Things we learnt from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

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Mercedes secured another double victory at last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix en route their seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship title. Seven days after the exciting race at Imola, we look back at Round 13 of the 2020 F1 season.

Excellent tyre durability at Imola - While the condensed nature of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend deprived Pirelli’s engineers and teams of conducting excessive tyre analysis during free practice sessions, each tyre compound worked as expected, giving the teams the flexibility of adjusting their strategies to the race scenario. Although the majority of the drivers were set to complete the 63-lap race in Italy with a one-stop strategy, only four of them covered the race distance with stopping only once. In fact, the change was induced by the appearance of the safety car at the end of the race that urged the strategists to call their drivers into the pit. In the end, only Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc, Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi opted for a single-stop strategy.

A mammoth stint – Alfa Romeo driver’s Antonio Giovinazzi completed an extremely long stint on Pirelli’s C3 compound – the Italian notched up a total of 53 laps, equivalent to 84 per cent of the entire race distance. The best lap time on that compound was registered by Lewis Hamilton with the Briton posting a time of 1m17.502 on the yellow-walled compound. It was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to register the longest stint on the hard rubber with the Monegasque completing a 50-lap run. It was once again Lewis Hamilton to post the fastest lap on the hardest compound available at Imola with a time of 1m17.279. When it came to the red-walled soft tyre, it was McLaren’s Carlos Sainz to register the longest stint with a 17-lap run. Demonstrating Mercedes’ utter dominance, Hamilton was the fastest on the red-walled boots as well, setting a time of 1m15.484 which became the fastest race lap.

Second win for Mercedes – The German marque recorded its first win at Imola, although it has already won once as an engine partner for McLaren. When it comes to the engine manufacturers, Ferrari and Renault are tied on eight victories, followed by Honda with the Japanese engine supplier having recorded a total of four wins.

Penalty – Romain Grosjean was handed a five-second penalty at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for leaving the track without a justifiable reason multiple times. The Geneva-born French driver also received a penalty point on his licence and he now has a total of 2 points in the 12-month period.

The bonus point – Hamilton secured the additional point for the fastest lap with a lap time of 1m15.484 posted on the red-walled soft compound. Despite losing a significant amount of downforce owing to damage to the floor of his car, Valtteri Bottas posted the second fastest lap time which was just over four tenths of a second off the fastest race lap. Following his teammate’s Max Verstappen’s puncture, Alexander Albon posted the third fastest race lap at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with a time of 1m16.177. All three drivers achieved their best time on the very last lap of the 63-lap race.

The fast bulls – Although the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix ended in tears for Red Bull Racing, it was once again the energy drink company-owned team to impress in terms of pit stops. Red Bull changed the tyres on Alexander Albon’s RB16 in just 1.93, the only sub-2 seconds tyre change at Imola. The second fastest change also belonged to Red Bull when they served Max Verstappen – that change lasted only 2.16s. Mercedes registered the third fastest stop with a time of 2.40. Williams’ work was once again impressive in the pit lane with the Grove-based team changing the tyres on George Russell’s car in just 2.46s and on Nicholas Latifi’s FW43 in just 2.55s.

Podium finishers – Hamilton continued his impressive run of results by clinching his 9th victory in 13 races. The Briton stood on the podium on 11 occasions in these 13 races, failing to secure a podium finish only at the Austrian and the Italian Grands Prix that he could have also easily won. His second-place finish was the tenth podium appearance for Valtteri Bottas while Max Verstappen continued his streak of either finishing on the podium or retiring from the race. The Dutchman was on course to secure the second spot at Imola until his sudden puncture on Lap 50.

Insurmountable lead – With its fifth one-two finish in the season, Mercedes secured its seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship title. The Anglo-German squad has a total of 479 points, 253 points more than the second-placed Red Bull Racing. In the Drivers’ Championship, Hamilton sits on 282 points followed by his teammate Bottas who has collected a total of 197 so far. The third-placed Max Verstappen is 35 points behind Bottas after losing his mathematical chance for the title at Imola.

The increasing fights – The battle is gearing up both in the Constructors’ and the Drivers’ Championship for the third and the fourth place respectively. Renault is currently third in the Teams’ Standings on 135 points, but McLaren and Racing Point are just a single point behind. Scuderia Ferrari is currently sixth in the standings, 32 points behind the Enstone-based French outfit.

Best race of the season – Alfa Romeo celebrated the 110th anniversary of its history at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Although the qualifying session delivered less then encouraging results for the Swiss-Italian outfit, Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi could stay out of trouble in the race and capitalize on others' mistakes or misfortunes. The 13th race of the season saw the team finish in the point-scoring spots with both its drivers, collecting a total of three points. The team is now five points ahead of its closest rival Haas.