Formula 1 returns to the European continent this weekend with Italy staging the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. This fourth round of the 2022 campaign is the first race of the year to take place on European soil.
The tradition-steeped Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit returned to the F1 calendar after a break of 14 years in 2020, with the revived fixture being designated the title: ‘The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix’.
This is now set to be contested for a third consecutive year. The 2020 race was won by Lewis Hamilton ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Last year Max Verstappen was a convincing winner. The Dutchman qualified in third but took an uncontested lead at the opening turn.
Legends, Records and Imola
The 4.9-kilometre circuit has previously hosted the Italian Grand Prix (in 1980) and the San Marino Grand Prix between 1981 and 2006. San Marino is a small independent nation that is located around 100-kilometers to the south of Imola.
Michael Schumacher has the record for race victories at the circuit. The German won here seven times.
Lewis Hamilton won the race for the first time on its return to the F1 calendar in the 2020. It was his first visit to the circuit. This was also the first win for a Silver Arrow (Mercedes) at Imola. The only other victory for a Mercedes-powered car at the circuit was achieved by McLaren’s David Coulthard in the 1998 season.
Williams and Ferrari lead the team winning statistics with eight victories each. In terms of pole positions, the legendary Ayrton Senna leads the way on eight, ahead of Schumacher on five.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas each recorded a pole for the Mercedes works team during the last two years. The team that has recorded the most poles at the circuit is McLaren with nine.
But the Big Question, What We Expect in 2022?
Because Imola is an older track, it has a narrow width compared to modern tracks. This makes overtaking difficult and puts extra emphasis on tyre/pit-stop strategy to make up places.
Imola has one of the longest pit lanes of any Formula 1 track on the 2022 calendar. It measures 549 metres. This translates to one of the longest pit lane times, too, taking around 25 seconds. This is an interesting strategic factor as drivers lose more time making a pit stop compared to other races.
Under the circumstances a strong qualifying performance – which is a sprint race in 2022 – is vital and, dare we say it, the likelihood is of a processional race is strong. However, the latest weather forecast suggest there could be rain on race day and that could make for some exciting action.
* Imola Grand Prix odds correct at the time of writing. All odds subject to changes.