Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: PreviewOctober 28, 2020
The next stop on the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes Haas F1 Team to Italy for a third time this year, with the returning Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola set to feature a revised weekend format.
Following on from September’s sojourn to Monza and Mugello the upcoming round at Imola will be the third Formula 1 World Championship event to take place on Italian soil in 2020. This matches the record from 1982, when a trio of circuits in the United States – Long Beach, Detroit and Caesars Palace – were present on the schedule. Imola has not featured in the championship since 2006 and for its 2020 return it will be known as the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, after the province in which the circuit is located. It will also be the 100th Formula 1 World Championship round to take place in Italy – the first country in the world to reach such a milestone.
It is a new venue for Haas F1 Team while drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were too young to be racing in Formula 1 the last time the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari graced the championship’s schedule. Magnussen has never competed at Imola but Grosjean visited the top step of the circuit’s podium when he clinched the GP2 Asia Series title with victory from pole position in 2011.
The challenge will also be enhanced by a change in the usual grand prix weekend format. Ever since Haas F1 Team joined the championship in 2016 there have been four scheduled hours of free practice prior to qualifying. But for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Formula 1 drivers will have just 90 minutes to get up to speed on Saturday morning, with all the on-track action condensed into two days. There was an unexpected early trial at the Nürburgring when bad weather forced the abandonment of Friday’s running – and Haas F1 Team went on to score points. A repeat this weekend would be a very welcome outcome.
Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will take place across 31 October – 1 November, with one 90-minute practice session on Saturday ahead of qualifying, prior to Sunday’s 63-lap race at 13:10 local time (07:10 EST/12:10 GMT).
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
Imola marks Formula 1’s first official two-day race weekend. You’ve been vocal about such a format affording the opportunity perhaps for Formula 1 to increase the number of races moving forward while others are opposed due to the strain on personnel. How does Formula 1 balance the desire for growing its platform versus the human elements involved – notably team personnel, that make up the running of the sport?
“First of all, I want to see how Imola pans out with just the one practice session. We had it at the Nürburgring, and it didn’t work out badly for anybody. I think it’s doable. If we know that, then we can go in and see if we can do more races and still not overwork team personnel and so on.”
Formula 1 has visited several tracks either new to Formula 1 or perhaps not utilized by the series in a long time – such as Imola. Where do you stand on the possibility of ‘wild card’ circuits rotating in and out of the Formula 1 calendar? Could such a format work or is calendar stability year-on-year a more pragmatic approach?
“I’m all for getting something new in and spicing things up. Obviously, the financials need to work. If you just do it to spice things up, but there are no benefits, then we cannot do it – we cannot afford to do it. But otherwise, I’m fully for it that we maybe add in one or two races from a different place every year.”
The flip side to visiting those venues in 2020 is that you’re missing out on visiting some favoured F1 tracks normally found in the latter half of the calendar. Which circuits are you missing the most from the regular F1 schedule and why?
“I’m not really missing any – we did them before and we’ll do them again. The only thing is, living in the United States, I’m obviously missing going to Circuit of The Americas this year – my other home race. It’s a fantastic place and Austin is a fantastic city.”
While the team has been candid about its lack of development on the VF-20 this season, can you detail the work that’s been going on with regards to the permitted developments for 2021?
“As I’ve said before, we had to stop development work on this year’s car due to the pandemic – we didn’t know what our finances would be. We started up again two months ago with adapting our car to next year’s revised aero rules for the rear downforce. With that development, hopefully we make some steps for next year and make some big gains. That’s what we need.”