With no Friday practice taking place for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the latest Formula 1 weekend begins with a very unusual outlook. Here’s how and when to watch qualifying.
As part of F1’s reshuffled 2020 race calendar and seen as an opportunity to try out a new race weekend format, F1’s return to Imola has been condensed into a two-day event of track action with no practice on Friday.
F1 drivers and teams will have only the 90-minute Saturday morning practice session to prepare for qualifying and the race at a circuit the series has not raced at since 2006, while both the three-stage qualifying format and race programme remain unchanged.
The key news from the Imola paddock on Friday was the confirmation Alfa Romeo will retain both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi as its driver line-up for the 2021 F1 season.
Further down the grid after “confusion” at the Portuguese GP, George Russell’s place at Williams for next season has been reconfirmed by the team following recent speculation Sergio Perez had been a candidate to replace the British driver.
Perez now appears to be a contender at Red Bull if the team choses to drop Alexander Albon for next season, but the Mexican says he cannot wait too long for the Milton Keynes-based squad to make a decision.
What is the Emilia Romagna GP?
The previous ‘new’ races on the redrawn 2020 F1 calendar were either part of double-headers at the same circuit (Styrian GP at the Red Bull Ring and 70th Anniversary GP at Silverstone) or races taking a new name as the national race title was already used or unavailable.
With different races not allowed the same name in the same F1 world championship season, the Nurburging’s F1 race, Mugello’s F1 race and the Red Bull Ring’s second race were named after the region the circuits are situated in. The second Silverstone race was named as a way to celebrate the 70th year of the F1 grand prix world championship.
With the Italian GP taking place at Monza earlier this year, Imola’s unexpected return to the F1 race calendar has been named after the area the circuit is located in.
The final unique race name for the unconventional 2020 calendar is the second Bahrain race, which will be called the Sakhir GP, which is also named after the region the track is based.
When did F1 last race at Imola?
F1 last hosted a grand prix at Imola’s Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in 2006, a race won by Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher.
Imola’s most famous F1 moment remains the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend which saw the deaths of both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.
While Imola hosted numerous non-championship races in the 1960s and 1970s, the circuit held its first world championship grand prix in 1980, the Italian GP, before the race returned to Monza a year later. From 1981 Imola hosted the San Marino GP and remained an ever-present fixture on the F1 calendar until 2006.
Why is F1 racing at Imola?
Due to the redrafted 2020 F1 calendar following the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent cancellation of 13 races, series bosses have scrambled to produce a campaign of a minimum of eight races to meet FIA world championship criteria along with reaching a minimum of 15 races to fulfil the TV broadcasting deal.
As well as hosting double-headers at the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone and Bahrain, F1 will also head to venues not on the original 2020 calendar, with Imola the fourth of the new destinations, following on from Mugello, the Nurburgring and Portimao. Later this year the paddock completes its one-off stint of unexpected races at Istanbul Park.
What time does qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix start?
Qualifying for the Emilia Romagna GP starts at 2pm local time (1pm GMT), using the regular Q1, Q2 and Q3 knockout session format.
Date: Saturday 31 October 2020
Start time: 2pm local time – 1pm GMT
How can I watch qualifying?
In the United Kingdom every F1 practice, qualifying and race is broadcast live on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying coverage starting at 12pm GMT.
Channel 4 is broadcasting highlights of qualifying for the Portuguese GP at 5:15pm GMT. Autosport will be running a live text coverage of qualifying.
What’s the weather forecast for qualifying at Imola?
Dry and sunny conditions are forecast for Saturday, with cloudy building throughout the afternoon at Imola, meaning there will be a very small chance of rain. Temperatures are expected to reach highs of 18 degrees Celsius – around two degrees Celsius cooler than qualifying for the Portuguese GP last time out.