Sunday, November 1, 2020

Bottas Outpaces Hamilton for Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Pole

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd


Leaving Portugal after completing the country’s first Formula 1 grand prix since 1996, the premier open wheel racing group has landed back in Italy for its third race in the nation in the 2020 season. The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari (commonly referred to by the name of the nearby town of Imola) is the venue for the first-ever Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Last hosting a Formula 1 event in 2006 (one year prior to the debut of both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel competing on the tour), the Imola race track has previously played host to the 1980 Italian Grand Prix and the San Marino Grand Prix from 1981 to 2006. 

The 4.909-kilometer Italian race track presents relatively new pavement (presenting a similar challenge to drivers when competing at the Algarve International Circuit for the Portuguese Grand Prix) resulting in a smooth yet bumpy surface. The Imola circuit is also noteworthy for being particularly narrow presenting the likelihood for a tight racing line and difficulties in passing.

The first race at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari for Formula 1 in the Turbo-Hybrid era, piloting the massively powerful machines around the circuit also involved the nuance of the event operating on a modified two-day routine. Only a single 90-minute practice session would occur ahead of the grid-setting qualifying show for Sunday’s 63-lap race. The combination of unique circumstances presented some difficulty to competitors throughout Saturday. Time deletions caused by drivers exceeding track limits plagued a number of drivers during practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with 60 lap times taken off the time sheet. After drivers disputed the situation with the FIA sanctioning body, the rules were amended ahead of qualifying. 

Once again, the Mercedes-AMG race car drivers led the way through all three sessions of the Saturday qualifying. Resulting in the defence of their undefeated streak of pole positions for the 2020 Formula 1 season, drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton battled each other for which one would stand at the top of the time chart in Q3 at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Cranking out a 1-minute, 13.609-second lap time, the #77 of Bottas was able to out-hustle teammate Hamilton by almost one-tenth of a second. The Finnish driver’s fourth pole position this season, Bottas has so far won just a single race from the spot in 2020 (the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix). Finishing second after Q3, Lewis Hamilton cautioned in an interview that Sunday’s race may be a boring affair due to the narrow Imola circuit. 

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Max Verstappen’s third-fastest time in the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying was a hard-fought team effort. The Dutch driver experienced a loss of power in the early part of Q2 but his garage crew was able to repair the issue allowing the #33 Red Bull Racing car to set a time in order to advance late in the session. Verstappen will start alongside the vehicle from Red Bull Racing’s affiliate team Scuderia AlphaTauri. Churning out an impressive time with his #10 car, Frenchman Pierre Gasly recorded one of his best qualifying performances for a season where he and his team have exceeded expectations

Daniel Ricciardo will start in fifth place with his Renault machine on the third row with the second Honda-powered Red Bull Racing car fielded for Alexander Albon. Continuing to make a familiar appearance as the highest-qualifying Ferrari-powered race car for the 2020 Formula 1 grand prix season, Charles Leclerc is positioned seventh for the start of the race at Imola. Teammate Sebastian Vettel was only able to obtain a fourteenth place position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix’s grid. Russian Daniil Kvyat placed a strong personal effort with AlphaTauri resulting in an eighth-fastest time in Q1 just 0.080 seconds slower than Leclerc’s Ferrari. The McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. Round out the top-10 starters for the 2020 race at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Every vehicle qualifying in the top-10 for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will start the race on soft compound Pirelli tires. 

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/ LAT Images/ Pirelli

Beyond the top-10, a superb qualifying effort was recorded by the Williams Racing team and George Russell. Breaking out of Q1 once again in 2020 with his Mercedes-Benz powered #63 machine, Russell threatened to be a contender for Q3 at Imola. The Brit ultimately fell short of posting a top-10 time concluding Q2 in 13th place. George Russell’s qualifying performance comes on the week that where Williams Racing announced his services as driver for the team is retained for 2021.

The only driver on the current Formula 1 tour who had driven in the San Marino Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in 2006, Kimi Raikkonen’s experience was unfortunately not enough to lift his Alfa Romeo Racing team beyond Q1. Raikkonen was one of several drivers that had a time disallowed for exceeding track limits in qualifying. This week, the Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen organization confirmed both Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi are returning as drivers for the team next season.

The 63-lap Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is set for a 1:10 P.M. local start time (7:10 A.M. Eastern time). 

2020 Formula 1
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Starting Grid

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