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14 years after last hosting a FORMULA 1 race, Imola, in Northern Italy returned to the grid albeit with a cracker of a result. On the one hand, there was the usual Mercedes dominance in full swing- the team winning a seventh (consecutive) Constructors championship- it wasn’t all smiles for the battling duo of Hamilton and Bottas, the latter failing, once again, to convert a fine pole into a win.
So as Lewis took yet another win, marked by consistent- not bursts of pace- which other moments truly made the return of Imola truly special?
KyroSports present you the key talking points from the Imola GP:
Merc Shine As Expected, Take 7th Constructor’s Title
The sport’s strongest team entered Imola only inches away from the ‘expected,’ which was to do just enough to pick another well-deserved Championship Crown. And that’s what transpired as the Toto Wolff-led side picked a seventh constructor crown, as the team left Northern Italy.
In establishing an utterly dominant streak of picking seven back-to-back Constructor crowns (starting 2014) the Mercedes-AMG F1 team didn’t put a foot wrong in round thirteen of the 2020 FORMULA season.
While it might not have been another pole-to-checkered flag win for Lewis Hamilton (who begun Imola from P2), the IMOLA GP unfurled yet another Mercedes 1-2, with pole-sitter Bottas finishing in a strong second.
In the end, a Mercedes 1-2 in qualifying, became the dominant theme in the race result, only the orders reversed, King Lewis Hamilton working an excellent overcut in his favor to collect a handsome win.
Though it must be said that Bottas, winner at Austria (season-opener) and Sochi, did well enough to chip away right at the start, but it would eventually lead the Finn to an undercut that proved to be his undoing as the fan found out.
Business as usual, one noted from the high-speed twisty Imola!
Crashes and Heartbreaks, But Thankfully Nothing Dangerous At Imola
It’s not too difficult to get the thrill of FORMULA 1, given the smashing pace of the cars. But then it’s also not very difficult to get emotional given the sad results races unfurl every now and again. And if there’s one young driver, in particular, whose experienced more heartbreaks than any around him then it’s Williams’ George Russell, who yet again failed to finish inside points. Beginning strongly from thirteenth on the grid, the driver of the Mercedes-powered Williams, proved yet again on Saturday that he’s got what it takes to succeed at the highest level in FORMULA 1. Russell was running well inside the points when his race took a turn for the worse and rather unexpectedly so, come lap 54, with just 9 to go.
Deciding to generate heat in the tyres by weaving the car, an idea he might not think too highly of, Russell, only had himself to blame for spoiling all the good work he’d done so arduously until then. Crashing out with just a handful of laps remaining, his exit left Kimi Raikkonen with a pretty straightforward move northwards , Imola unfurled yet another emotional moment, having already seen the retirements of Verstappen, Ocon, Magnussen, and Gasly.
But you couldn’t help but feel for a guy who’s beaten his teammate (Nicholas Latifi) consistently, in all qualifying sessions and races, besides emerging the faster (and the best) than the rest of the pack trailing the midfield.
But chin up George, we try again!
Though, make no mistake; Imola wasn’t light on Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly either- the only FORMULA 1 race winners in 202o not driving a Mercedes.
While Verstappen, due to finish second, when he suffered a massive problem in his right rear tyre was a major turning point in the race, Gasly’s exit from the 63-lap race was equally painful as well. The young Frenchman has not only raised his game in what’s been another emphatic Mercedes season. This is first thanks to his incredible win at Monza, but even with the strong qualifying result on Saturday, that saw the Alpha Tauri driver claim a second row start on the grid, courtesy his fighting P4, a position he’d be robbed of eventually owing to sudden car problems for no fault of his own. Meanwhile, in the latter stages, Verstappen, running determinedly in second, poised to collect a tenth podium (in thirteen races, including Imola) would crash out owing to tyreware he may never have expected. But then the Dutchman had been racing hard on those tyres for no fewer than 32 laps.
Alas, not everything always works out the way it should. Perhaps, something that K-Mag (driving with a splitting headache, only to retire mid-way) might identify with! Such was the drama at Imola that one experienced both highs (yet another Mercedes 1-2, Renault’s second podium) but sudden very heartbreaking lows.
Dazzling Daniel- Oh That Move On Lap 28
For a driver who wasn’t even sure to collect a single podium this year, Daniel Ricciardo, has collected two, his latest one culminating in a fantastic P2 meaning his second podium in three races.
There are smiles, there are ravishing smiles, and then, some that define FORMULA 1. So the smile of the sport made for one of the most fitting sights upon the completion of a dramatic 63-lap contest, with the Honeybadger claiming, a bit unexpectedly you’d say, a fantastic podium for his team yet again.
That there still a handful of races to go augurs well for Daniel Ricciardo, whose P2 earned him the 31st career podium, the highlight of his race being his stunning move around the outside of Kevin Magnussen in the run around Tamburello. This is to take nothing away from McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr., whose move around the inside of Lando Norris earlier on in the race was just as ballsy as Daniel’s late lunge at Imola.
That Ricciardo defended equally well and that too from a fast-and-attacking Daniil Kvyat made his maiden drive in Imola in FORMULA 1, even more special.
Driver Of The Day- Iceman Kimi Shows He’s still got it
No sooner had Kimi Raikkonen been confirmed for a drive for the upcoming (2021 season) than the Finn proved just why it was the right thing to do by collecting the ‘Driver of the day’ at the just-concluded Imola GP.
At a time where the Iceman of FORMULA 1 isn’t getting any younger, with calls to make the ‘right decision in the future becoming slightly pronounced than before,’ Kimi Raikkonen’s inspirational drive at Imola served a disclaimer that often comes wrapped around a cliche.
That maybe it’s not over until it’s already over. Or how should one put it? Maybe that age is just a number, for had not been the case then maybe, the 41-year-old, who began from P18 may not have ended P9- right?
But from a team perspective, Imola presented a very pleasing 9 and 10 finish for the two Alfa Romeo drivers, Antonio Giovinazzi finishing right behind the unflustered Finn, on P10.
This is when Raikkonen had struggled in qualifying a day earlier, finding his lap time deleted within moments of the curtains falling on the final quali run.
But Bwoah, who cares! Right, Kimi!