Ferrari expect Imola to suit their car

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Ferrari’s Chief Race Engineer Matteo Togninalli expects the Italian team’s 2020 F1 car, the SF1000 to cope well with the demands of the Imola race track.

Just a few days after the Portuguese Grand Prix, Formula One returns to action at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari that plays host to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Round 13 of the 2020 F1 season. The Imola round will be the third race in Italy with Ferrari, AlphaTauri and the Sauber-run Alfa Romeo teams adamant to excel on home soil.

The race will take place on the back of three good races for Ferrari where the team delivered an improved form thanks to a raft of aerodynamic upgrades. Speaking ahead of the event, Ferrari’s Chief Race Engineer Matteo Togninalli expects the SF1000 to cope well with the relatively short Imola track.

„This track is very technical, with a reasonably high average speed.,” he said. „The weather should be pretty good, with temperatures in the 18°-20° C range. Based on what we have seen in recent races, I think our package could suit this track well and that we will be able to get the most out of the car. As usual, the drivers play a key role.”

The Maranello-based team introduced a series of new technical solutions as part of a three-stage upgrade programme at the last three rounds. The team wants to maximize the potential of the SF1000, fine-tuning its set-up with the modified package.

“Apart from the introduction of updates, seeking greater performance is an ongoing task: even if there are no visible elements, the car is always evolving. In the final part of this season, that work is also aimed at 2021, with new solutions to try,” Togninalli said.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend will feature a condensed schedule with only a single practice session before drivers and cars flex their muscles in qualifying. Ahead of the qualifying session, there will be a two-and-a-half-hour gap that represents a 30 minutes longer break than usual to give teams time to evaluate what they learned in the 90-minute practice session.

“The difficult circumstances this year have thrown up new challenges and everyone involved in the sport has shown flexibility and the ability to adapt and the Imola weekend format is an example of that,” reckons the Italian.

“With back-to-back races at European circuits over 2000 kilometres apart, the teams need the extra time to get the transporters from Algarve to Imola and have time to set everything up at the Italian venue, hence the lack of track activity on Friday. It is also true that another future goal of having 2-day race weekends is to reduce general costs, making this weekend an interesting experiment.

„It’s happened in the past that a day has been lost, as was the case at the Eifel Grand Prix three weeks ago, or in Japan last year, but that’s always been down to force majeure. In this case however, everything has been planned and organised in advance.”

Pirelli has also made adjustments to the tyre allocation. The Milan-based company will provide teams the three compounds in the middle of its range. While drivers usually have an allocation of 13 sets of dry tyres, they will have 10 sets at Imola: two sets of C2, two C3, and six C4. Three sets have to be returned after practice to prevent teams from piling up tyres for the qualifying session.

Not only the tyre manufacturer, but the teams also needed to work out a different approach to the race weekend as there will be little time to analyse the data between the sole practice session and the qualifying.

“With very little time available to analyse the data from free practice, we have reorganised our priorities, allocating resources in a different way both at the track and back in Maranello. We will also manage components, engines and gearboxes for example or the incorporation of components that have already been tested, so as to cut down time spent and to try and reduce the risks as much as possible,” the Italian concluded.