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Formula 1 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen will ‘not have it all his own way’ at Imola - RacingNews365 predictions

RacingNews365 give their predictions for the 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from Imola, in race that might not go the way Red Bull is used to.

Max Imola
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To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen will start the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from pole, but the Dutchman faces more pressure that usual.

After McLaren's step forward at the Miami Grand Prix, the driver starting alongside the Red Bull, Lando Norris, will be looking to make it two wins from two after taking 110 GPs to claim that allusive first grand prix win.

Ferrari occupy the second row of the grid following an expectations-raising Friday practice slate. With its own upgrade package, many predicted Charles Leclerc would take pole, but he had to settle for third on the grid with team-mate Carlos Sainz next to him.

Oscar Piastri had been due to start from second-position, but a penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen dropped him to fifth. The Australian will hope to get past the Ferraris early to support Norris in beating Verstappen again.

It is likely to be a one-stop race, with increased likelihood of a safety car given the re-introduced gravel traps at Imola - so that strategy could quickly be thrown off kilter. As a circuit that it is notoriously difficult to pass at, strategy will be king, with a little bit of luck thrown in, too.

Ian Parkes

If qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix proved one thing it is that Red Bull and Max Verstappen will not have it all their own way for the 63-lap race.

Red Bull has to be applauded for its turnaround in performance after the “bad day” for Verstappen in Friday practice, albeit the three-time champion landing pole position thanks to “tow buddy” Nico Hulkenberg in his Haas.

What was evident, though, is that McLaren’s race pace, and that of Ferrari, appear stronger so Verstappen can expect to come under heavy pressure from Lando Norris, joining him on the front row, and Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz directly behind on the second. Even Oscar Piastri, fifth on the grid after a penalty, is a threat.

Verstappen is without wing-man Sergio Perez who starts a disappointing 11th, but he has one aspect in his favour - that it is notoriously difficult to overtake at Imola.

I’m still going for Norris, though, to make it back-to-back wins after breaking his victory duck in Miami last time out, with Verstappen holding off Leclerc for second.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Samuel Coop

It is essentially a one-lap race. Until the first safety car, that is, which could be the determining factor strategy-wise.

If Lando Norris can get a good launch, he will be well-positioned to manage the race and control it from the front. If team-mate Oscar Piastri can dispatch of the Ferrari pair, he might be able to return us the race his penalty robbed us of.

Had it not been for that qualifying sanction, the McLaren duo could have used an off-set strategy against Max Verstappen, who is without his rear gunner in Sergio Perez, or even the pincher move - had one of them got the early jump on the Dutchman.

Ferrari might have better race pace than thought after qualifying brought expectations back down to earth slightly, but realistically, I think this is a straight battle between Verstappen and Norris.

Whoever gets to the second corner (the first rear one) first will take the victory. Unless we see a Norris-esque safety car advantage like we did in Miami. If that does happen, I would not be surprised to see Oscar Piastri back in the mix.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Nick Golding

The 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has all the ingredients to potentially be an absolute classic! Whilst Verstappen is on pole, a victory for the Dutchman is absolutely not a guarantee.

Red Bull has not been at the races in Imola, with only a "magical" lap, according to Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko, having secured Verstappen pole. Verstappen will not cruise into the distance, instead, McLaren and Ferrari will keep him honest.

Lando Norris joins Verstappen on the front row and is a bit of an Imola magician, the Briton has an incredible chance to claim back-to-back victories. 

For me, I fancy Norris for victory. Should McLaren defeat Red Bull again, then a title fight could remarkably be on the cards. We are in for a fascinating 63 laps!

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Fergal Walsh

An air of uncertainty hangs over this race, formed by the strong pace McLaren showed in Miami, which was backed up by the Woking-based team’s strong qualifying speed. 

In many ways, this race is pivotal for the outlook of the remainder of the season with so many upgrades being introduced at Imola. Red Bull should still be considered the favourite, but its task will be made more difficult by Perez’s absence from the head of the field. 

It’s a great chance for McLaren and Ferrari to pile on the pressure - but if anyone can hold off the threat, it’s Max Verstappen.

Therefore, I feel the top three will ultimately stay the same come the chequered flag. There will postering and strategy at play, but it will all come out in the wash.

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look ahead at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The trio discuss last season's cancelled race at Imola, whether McLaren's Miami pace is genuine and if Mercedes teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli will make his debut before he turns 18.

Want to watch the podcast instead of just listening? Check it out here.

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