Just hours after we published this article, F1 has just announced that the 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been cancelled amid heavy floods in the Emilia Romagna region. It’s not clear as of yet if the race will be pushed back to a later date.
Following the first of three US races which was held in Miami, we now anticipate one of the most renowned venues on the 2023 Formula 1 calendar, the magnificent Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. As we embark on the first European leg of the season, there are a multitude of topics to discuss leading up to the Imola race.
2023 has so far given us a thrilling battle between the two Red Bull drivers. Max Verstappen’s remarkable performance in Miami, where he fought his way from ninth on the grid to secure his third victory of the season, was truly impressive. However, even though Sergio Perez admitted he wasn’t at his best throughout the weekend, he still made Verstappen work hard for the win.
As we head to Imola, there’s only a 14-point difference between the Red Bull duo in the championship standings. Imola is a type of circuit where Perez needs to shine, as he has mentioned that his strong start to the season is not solely due to his proficiency on street circuits, but also a higher level of comfort with the RB19.
With the ability to better adapt to the car compared to previous seasons, Perez remains optimistic about maintaining his form and challenging Verstappen for victory once again. Red Bull achieved a one-two finish in Imola last year, and they will be determined to uphold their early-season advantage, ensuring that their two drivers engage in another intense battle this weekend.
Unless you’ve deliberately avoided the latest news, you must be aware of the buzz surrounding Mercedes’ upcoming enhancements for Imola. Since their challenging start in Bahrain, Mercedes has been actively pursuing updates to turn their season around. They have pursued a new development path over the past few months, and the fruits of their labor will be showcased at Imola. Toto Wolff has confirmed that Mercedes will introduce fresh bodywork, a new floor, and a revised front suspension, marking a significant step forward for the team.
The Brackley team has a considerable number of new components which will undergo testing on Friday, Which they hope will bring them to the front of the pack. So how competitive can Mercedes truly become? This inquiry may be of particular interest to Aston Martin, as they perceive the threat posed by their rivals. Nevertheless, Aston Martin continues to pursue their own upgrades in an effort to narrow the gap to Red Bull and provide Fernando Alonso with the best possible opportunity to end his winless streak, which has surpassed a decade since the Spanish Grand Prix held on May 12, 2013.
Ferrari are aiming for greater consistency in their weekend performances, and they’re not the only ones. While Mercedes prepares for their major update for this weekend, Ferrari has been introducing new parts in recent races, including a new floor in Miami, as they strive to find something specific to aid in their troubles. It’s not just about improving performance (although that’s also a priority), but about achieving a consistent level of performance.
Both the Scuderia drivers and Team Principal Fred Vasseur have openly expressed their frustration with the car’s unpredictable behavior. There are times when the car displays impressive speed, but inexplicably lacks it at other moments. Take the example of Baku, where Charles Leclerc managed to secure pole position twice over the weekend but struggled to maintain his position during the race, narrowly avoiding being overtaken by Alonso.
The issue became even more apparent in Miami, with Leclerc admitting that he is finding it difficult to build confidence in the car, as evidenced by his two crashes during the weekend.
Leclerc explained, “What we’re missing is consistency in the car. It’s not just different from one corner to another; it can vary within the same corner. Our car is heavily influenced by the wind…”
Ferrari is not the only team seeking greater consistency. McLaren also faces challenges that need to be addressed. They made significant updates to the floor in Azerbaijan, bringing them closer to their initial expectations for the car’s performance. Lando Norris managed to secure points in a solid performance. However, both drivers struggled in Miami, failing to advance from Q1 and struggling to make progress in a race without incidents. Team Principal Andrea Stella described it as “a reality check.”
Ferrari and Mercedes aren’t alone in seeking improvements as Alpine is determined to respond to the criticism received from their CEO, Laurent Rossi. Rossi expressed a strong dissatisfaction with the team’s performance at the beginning of this season, putting significant pressure on Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer. Interestingly, Rossi voiced his concerns during the Miami weekend, where Alpine achieved double points for the second time this season.
The CEO’s frustration seems to be rooted in missed opportunities, but it’s worth pointing out that Alpine has demonstrated competitive pace on several occasions throughout 2023. They have challenged the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari in Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Miami, although they ultimately fell short.
Azerbaijan proved to be a disappointing weekend for Alpine, as both the team and the drivers made errors while evaluating an updated car. However, following a more promising performance in Miami, Alpine holds genuine optimism that they can build on their points haul and reclaim fifth place in the constructors’ championship, currently occupied by McLaren.
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