It’s nigh on impossible to put into words the memories that flicker in the minds of Formula 1 fans at the mere mention of this fabled place. Of all the circuits F1 has visited over the years, from the modern marvels to the historic heroes, none stir the soul quite like this one. F1’s titans have bravely battled here on no fewer than 27 occasions. And yet, for all the admiration, we have not ventured to this track on the banks of the spectacular Santerno river since 2006, when a certain Michael Schumacher added grand prix victory number 85 to a tally that none of us even dared to imagine would be bettered. Records are there to be broken – sooner rather than later it seems.
Our reverence for Imola lies not only in the triumphs we have witnessed here but also the tears we have shed. It has given us so much, but it has taken away much more…
This weekend, as always, we race in the shadows of the great friends we have loved and lost on our fearless journey, in the hope that our efforts do justice to their memory, and in the knowledge that success in this incomparable sport requires a magnitude of courage at odds with an increasingly risk-averse world.
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix starts right here with our race preview, where you can get the latest from Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and McLaren F1 Team Principal Andreas Seidl; pick up a few pointers on what to watch out for this weekend; learn more about the new McLaren merch that’s marrying stealth with style; and find out about a competition that’s sure to have you getting your game on.
How to follow
|When||31 October - 1 November|
|Start time||13:10 local, 12:10 GMT, 07:10 EDT|
|Follow||TEAMStream and the McLaren App for exclusive commentary and insight|
What they say
“We come away from Portugal after scoring good points that are crucial for both championships. The car felt a step better last weekend, so we did a good job as a team in understanding the different upgrades and deciding which direction to take.
“It’s great to be heading to Italy for the third time this season with this weekend being in Imola. No running on Friday will be an interesting test as there will be limited time to get to grips with the track and less data to analyse ahead of quali. Personally, Fridays make sense as long as the number of races are reasonable. Looking forward to this weekend.”
“I’m excited to be going to Imola right after a race weekend. The last time Formula 1 went there I was only six years old. I’ve actually raced there before in Italian Formula 4 back in 2015 and it was an amazing track, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like in a Formula 1 car. With it only being a two-day race weekend, it’ll definitely make things interesting by missing out on two free practice sessions. Hopefully my previous experience there will give me a helping hand on Saturday and Sunday.
“Looking back on the past few races there are a lot of positives to take despite the results. It’s still very close in the Constructors’ Championship and I know the entire team is pushing hard to give us every chance to outperform our competition. The car is showing a lot of potential that can hopefully help us get some big points this weekend.”
“We round off this double-header by returning to Italy for a third race at another exciting track. Imola is a welcome addition to the calendar this season with the last Formula 1 race being held there in 2006. This weekend brings with it an exciting challenge of a two-day format. We welcome these types of formats in Formula 1. We’re prepared and eager to make the most of our limited running time to give us the best possible chance to score vital points.
“Our performance in Portimão was very encouraging with several positives to take away from the weekend that once again confirm we can challenge for strong points. Looking ahead, we need to build on last weekend and continue to extract the most out of the cars to keep us in the fight with our competitors. I know the entire team back home and at track are continuing to work hard to give us the best chance to compete.”
What the stats say
Neither Carlos nor Lando have much experience of Imola – no surprises there given F1’s lengthy absence – although Lando did race here in 2015, bagging a brace of top-five finishes in Italian F4. Lando is also putting together a tidy point-scoring run when it comes to racing in Italy: enjoying top-10 finishes at the Italian Grands Prix in 2019 and 2020, as well as at the Tuscan Grand Prix back in September. McLaren has tasted victory at Imola on six occasions. The first came in 1984 with Alain Prost behind the wheel of the MP4/2. The Frenchman followed up in 1986 before Ayrton Senna scored three more for the team in 1988, 1989 and 1991. David Coulthard secured our most recent win at the circuit in 1998.
What to watch out for
There’s been a lot of talk about upgrades in recent weeks and, with the chance to run more tests in Portugal, we have furthered our understanding of our new nose box concept. Carlos and Lando felt more comfortable behind the wheel of the MCL35 than they did at the Nürburgring, and the aim is to continue to make progress with the new parts this weekend as the race for P3 in Constructors’ Championship really hots up.
Those of you old enough to remember when F1 last raced at Imola will recollect, what Martin Brundle would aptly call, a ‘Mickey Mouse chicane’ before the pit straight. It added little to the spectacle – or driver enjoyment – but, thankfully, it’s not something the drivers will have to contend with this time around. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Imola is just one of three anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar this season – the other two are Istanbul Park and Yas Marina, so don’t be surprised to see a few drivers with sore necks by the end of the weekend.
Oh, and in case you hadn’t realised, there’s no running on Friday. Yep, that’s right, the on-track action starts with a practice session on Saturday morning before it’s maximum attack in qualifying, ahead of the race on Sunday. We would say this is completely new but, with no Friday running at the Eifel Grand Prix several weeks ago due to the weather conditions, it’s actually not. However, what happened at the Nürburgring was completely unexpected, whereas the format for this weekend has been on the cards for a while. Expect a busy Saturday morning as teams try to get up to speed and pack as much into the session. Time spent in the simulator and all the homework for this weekend is going to be even more important if teams are to kick things off with a baseline setup that really allows them to hit the ground running.
What to wear
So, you know those super-early mornings when an F1 race is taking place on the other side of the world? You know, the ones where you have to sneak out of bed, dodge a creaky floorboard, deftly sidestep an upturned LEGO brick or electric plug, and then turn on the television while simultaneously mashing the ‘minus volume’ button – because you’re not brave enough to play Russian roulette with the mute button – in the hope you don’t wake the entire house with sound of the late-night shopping channel? Yeah, those ones. Well, we’ve got just the item of clothing for your covert escapades.
Introducing, the…(drum roll please)…Lando Norris Stealth 9FIFTY Cap!
Yep, we bet Tom Cruise wishes he had one of these beauties for Mission: Impossible too.
Hey now, you're an all star
Get your game on, go play…
To us, every McLaren fan is an all star. So, this week, we want you to get your game on and go play by giving you the chance to win a Logitech wheel and headset, Alienware PC and signed McLaren cap. How do you enter? Just post a picture of yourself wearing the new McLaren Shadow 2020 Team T-Shirt using the hashtag #OutOfTheShadowsMCL.
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