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Why Formula 1 must beware of Imola's loss of nostalgia

Why Formula 1 must beware of Imola's loss of nostalgia



Why Formula 1 must beware of Imola's loss of nostalgia

Why Formula 1 must beware of Imola's loss of nostalgia

Imola will again return to the Formula 1 calendar for a substitute appearance this season after making its return last year following a 14-year absence.

The historic Italian track will host the second round of the campaign on April 18 after the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix were postponed.

Rose-tinted spectacles were out in full force last year when Imola made its initial comeback, with fans and teams alike in awe at the prospect of returning, only for the race to fail to live up to such billing.

So what did F1 learn about modern racing's spectacle at Imola and what can we expect this time around?

What happened last season?

It was largely Mercedes dominance last year as Lewis Hamilton sauntered to victory with team-mate Valtteri Bottas second.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was running second after taking advantage of Bottas' run-in with aerodynamic-stalling debris, only to suffer a late tyre failure that put him out of the race and promote Daniel Ricciardo to third.

The safety car period that ensued closed the midfield and allowed for a scintillating lap from Daniil Kvyat as the Russian made up ground for fourth, whilst George Russell threw away points for Williams with a dramatic crash behind the safety car.

The worry of returning

The end of the race was exciting but the worry has to be that up until the safety car period, it was a pretty mundane affair. Of course, Imola is one of the most loved circuits in world motorsports and qualifying was certainly a thrill but the cars are too wide and produce too much dirty air for the narrow, fast-flowing nature of the layout.

What that means is without a well-timed safety car or some interesting strategy calls from teams, there is a big chance the nostalgic love affair of the first return last season will have worn off and people simply become bored during this year's event.

What could save the spectacle

There are a few saving graces. Firstly, there is the time of year. The average temperature in Bologna in November when last year's race was held is between six and 11 degrees celsius, whereas the equivalent for April is between nine and 17 degrees.

A six-degree difference is considerable in F1, with cooler temperatures providing a higher chance of grip-banishing graining on the Pirelli tyres. Warmer temperatures, therefore, should give the team's more grip to play with and perhaps more confidence when making a move.

But not just the temperature could play a part though. April is, on average, the wettest month of the year in Bologna. What F1 race hasn't been invigorated by a smattering of rainfall?

The sport has also had the benefit of seeing how effective, or otherwise, DRS was last season ahead of defining the zone for this year's race.

It appeared the zone was too short last year given the cars had to follow through the medium-speed Rivazza corner onto the main straight. A small adjustment could be beneficial to aid overtaking into Tamburello.

Pirelli could also take a softer range of tyre compounds to the race. Last season, the Italian manufacturer took the C2, C3 and C4 compounds to the event, so moving a step lower to the softest allocation could create an extra pit-stop and at least allow for a clever strategy call.

There is also the prospect that following another car may be easier this season due to the cuts to downforce levels enforced for this year.

Given all of that, there is the possibility the race is brilliant from start to finish.

It is worth noting that Verstappen was generally on pace with the Mercedes during last year's race whilst there was some action in the midfield to keep the interest alive.

Imola certainly deserves more of an event this year its history and splendour offer than was provided last season.


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