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Imola - five things to expect from the Emilia Romagna GP

Imola - five things to expect from the Emilia Romagna GP

F1 News

Imola - five things to expect from the Emilia Romagna GP

Imola - five things to expect from the Emilia Romagna GP

The new Formula 1 season made a stunning start under the lights in Bahrain a few weeks ago as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were finally able to take their gloves off in a straight battle.

Red Bull was expected to be strong at the season-opener in the blustery conditions, but ultimately it was Mercedes who came out on top after strategically out-foxing its rival.

As the sport returns to the magnificent Imola circuit for the second successive year, Verstappen will be hoping to exact revenge for his controversial second place last time out.

But with polar opposite conditions in Italy, who will come out on top? Here are five things to expect from the Emilia Romagna GP.

Mercedes v Red Bull - part two

Much has been made of the difference between Mercedes' low-rake and Red Bull's high-rake aerodynamic philosophies, with the latter seemingly profiting in Bahrain from the enforced downforce cuts.

The Silver Arrows is expecting the high-speed nature of Imola to hurt them even more, which will provide Verstappen in particular with a boost to his confidence.

In last season's race, Hamilton's strategy allowed him to jump ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas but Verstappen was more competitive than at other races on the schedule before a tyre failure forced him into retirement.

So with encouraging form at the circuit anyway, should we expect a Red Bull victory? The early pointers appear to indicate as such, and don't be surprised to see Sergio Perez at the sharp end after his courageous fightback through the field in Bahrain.

Could AlphaTauri be best of the rest?

The midfield looks as tight as ever after several multi-car battles in Bahrain. AlphaTauri looked strong in the desert but hurt themselves with a risky tyre strategy in qualifying, failing to reach Q3 on the medium compound.

With Daniil Kvyat in the driving seat last year, the team enjoyed its second-best result as the Russian finished fourth.

Heading into this season's race, the team has plenty of information to draw upon after conducting pre-season running at the track, notably with rookie Yuki Tsunoda.

With one of the few overtaking opportunities at Imola being down into Tamburello with DRS, the strong performance of Honda's power unit will give the team hope that best of the midfield will be achievable.

Aston Martin in for more pain?

Where Mercedes is struggling with a low-rake set-up, at least the team understands almost every intricacy of the car. Aston Martin, however, is not quite in the same boat.

It is only the second season of the team running the concept and the performance in Bahrain perfectly demonstrated this fact. Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel 10th and 15th respectively was a blow to a team that only missed out on third in last year's constructors' championship because of a points deduction.

Hopes will not be high given Mercedes' forecast of struggles themselves in Imola, whilst results of just sixth th and 13th from last season suggest more pain is on the way for the Silverstone-based team.

The one light at the end of the tunnel for Aston Martin is what should be less-breezy conditions for the weekend's running.

Who sits where in F1's pecking order?

With just a sample of one race to try and figure out F1's order of running, it is nigh-on impossible to decipher where each team lies.

With a completely different track layout at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari to that of the Bahrain International Circuit, if cars filter out in similar positions then we should have indicators as to who is strong and who is in trouble.

Red Bull and Mercedes will be expected to continue as top of the class, but between McLaren, AlphaTauri, Alpine, Ferrari, Aston Martin and even Alfa Romeo, after a strong first race of the season, the midfield is up in the air.

Normal conditions to provide engineering solace?

With such rigorous changes at the rear of the car to cut the downforce on this year's cars, engineers at all teams would have been eager to see exactly how the car's performance on track correlates to simulation work.

That would have been made difficult in the extreme winds of Bahrain but Imola provides a good all-round challenge in smoother conditions.

The Tosa hairpin will offer ideal low-speed data, whilst the high-speed Piratella and Acque Minerali corners will assist with high-speed correlation.

The trees around the track will provide shelter from most of the wind, meaning true airflows will be able to be logged by the teams across the weekend.

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