By Paul Healy
This weekend sees Formula One move to Europe. The first European race since the start of the 2022 Championship. The race takes place at The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo E Dino located in Imola.
F1 returned to Imola in 2020 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. It was initially planned as a one off race , however it is now a permanent fixture to the F1 calendar.
This weekend will feature a sprint race on Saturday afternoon which means Qualifying will be on Friday. This season points will be awarded to the top eight places in the sprint as opposed to the top three last year. Also any car that fails to complete the sprint race will start from the rear of the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
The results from the sprint race on Saturday will dictate the grid for Sunday. Pole position for the sprint race will go to the quickest driver in Friday Qualifying.
Drivers will get a single one hour practice session early on Friday before Qualifying for the sprint race in the afternoon. There is a second practice session which is an hour . This takes place on Saturday morning before the Sprint race in the afternoon.
The Imola circuit is a 4.909km anti clockwise track consisting of 19 corners. It is fairly narrow in places which presents challenges for overtaking. The surface is bumpy and it is a high downforce circuit with 70% of the lap taken at full throttle. The track sees a maximum speed of up to 311km/ph. The lap record here is a 1:13.609s set by Valtteri Bottas in 2020. Michael Schumacher has clocked up the most wins with seven victories at the Imola circuit.
The favourites without a doubt this weekend will be Ferrari as Imola is regarded as their home circuit , so expect the fans also known as Tiflis to be out in force this weekend.
Ferrari come into this weekend with Charles Leclerc leading the championship after having a great start to the season winning in Bahrain and Australia.
Hot on Leclerc’s tail is Max Verstappen of Red Bull.The 2021 World Champion won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Lerclerc and Verstappen are clearly rivals this season but Verstappen will be confident having wine in Imola last year in a cat and mouse battle with Lewis Hamilton.
After an eight year domination of F1 Mercedes this year still hasn’t won a single race of the 2022 championship thus far. The Silver arrows appear to have a problematic car with proporsing a clear issue which the team need to rectify in order to be more competitive this year. George Russell grabbed a P3 finish in Melbourne and Hamilton finished on the podium in Bahrain. How will Mercedes do this weekend in Imola ? Have they fixed the issues with the W13? Only time will tell.
2022 Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP session timings in the UK
Friday 22nd April 2022
- Free Practice 1: 12:30 – 13:30 BST
- Qualifying: 16:00 – 17:00 BST
Saturday 23rd April 2022
- Free Practice 2: 11:30 – 12:30 BST
- Sprint: 15:30 – 16:30 BST
Sunday 24th April 2022
- Race: 14:00 BST