Formula 1 completes its latest back-to-back action in the shaken-up 2020 season with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Following Lewis Hamilton’s historic victory to surpass Michael Schumacher’s all-time F1 grand prix wins record, with the British driver taking his 92nd career triumph at the Portuguese GP last weekend, the six-time F1 world champion leads the standings by 77 points with five rounds to go.
Mercedes has the opportunity to create further F1 history this weekend by sealing a seventh consecutive world constructors’ championship, beating the existing record it currently shares with Ferrari of six straight titles. Mercedes needs just one of its cars to finish in the top four to secure the title in Imola given it currently holds a 209-point lead with only 220 still to play for.
Max Verstappen continues to act as the only driver able to compete against the dominant Mercedes duo having taken his ninth podium of the season with third place at Portimao.
Meanwhile, focus is growing on the Red Bull race seat next to Verstappen as Alex Albon fights for his future at the team. Pierre Gasly won’t be replacing the Anglo-Thai driver at Red Bull in 2021, though, after being retained by sister squad AlphaTauri.
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 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 Nurburgring’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 Schumacher for Ferrari.
Imola’s most infamous F1 moment remains the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend, where Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna both lost their lives.
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.
Will fans be allowed at the Emilia Romagna GP?
In September, race organisers had been granted permission to open the circuit to spectators with numbers capped at 13,000 as approved by the local government, but following new COVID-19 restriction measures, the F1 race will be held behind closed doors this weekend.
2020 Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP session timings
F1 is opting for a new two-day race weekend format of one free practice session lasting 90 minutes on Saturday morning – with no official track action taking place on Friday.
A range of minor F1 schedule tweaks have also been introduced, highlighted by two drivers’ briefing rather than the usual one on Friday night. Instead, a Friday night briefing will go over points raised from the previous race in Portugal, while a one-off briefing will be held between Saturday’s practice and qualifying session to discuss the Imola circuit and any safety issues.
The Q1, Q2 and Q3 knockout-style qualifying format is being retained on Saturday afternoon to decide the grid for the 63-lap Emilia Romagna GP on Sunday.
Saturday 31st October 2020
Free Practice: 09:00am-10:30am GMT (10:00am-11:30am local)
Qualifying: 1:00pm-2:00pm GMT (2:00pm-3:00pm local)
Sunday 1st November 2020
Race: 12:10pm GMT (1:10pm local)
How can I watch the Emilia Romagna GP?
Channel: Sky Sports F1 HD
Channel numbers – Sky: 406
Channel numbers – Virgin Media: 506 (Sky Sports F1 HD)
Sky Sports has live and exclusive broadcasting rights in the United Kingdom with the build-up to the F1 race starting from 10:30am ahead of lights out at 12:10pm.
When can I watch the highlights?
Channel: Channel 4
Start time: Saturday qualifying 5:15pm, Sunday race 6:30pm
Channel 4 has the rights to show Emilia Romagna GP highlights of qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Weather forecast for the Emilia Romagna GP
Imola is set to enjoy warm and dry conditions for the majority of the race weekend, with a low chance of rain. Across the two days of planned track action highs of 18 degrees Celsius are forecast – three degrees Celsius cooler than the Portuguese GP.
Pirelli tyre allocation for the Emilia Romagna GP
Pirelli has opted for its middle range of compounds for the Emilia Romagna GP, with the hard tyre C2, medium tyre C3 and soft tyre C4.
For all of the races in the reshuffled 2020 F1 season each driver will be given the same allocation of tyres per race – while for Imola a slight tweak of 10 sets of tyres instead of the usual 13 sets will be available due to the reduction in practice – meaning each driver will have six sets of soft tyres, two sets of medium tyres and two sets of hard tyres. Pirelli will also supply a range of wet and intermediate tyres for each driver.