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HomeSportsF1 news: The 6 biggest storylines as the grid heads to Imola

F1 news: The 6 biggest storylines as the grid heads to Imola

The Method One world shifts to northern Italy this week, for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. This Grand Prix was added to the F1 calendar in the course of the COVID-shortened 2020 season, initially supposed to be a stop-gap alternative for that season. Nonetheless, as further races had been canceled in 2021 it remained on the calendar, and in March of 2022 F1 added the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as a everlasting fixture till a minimum of the 2025 season.

Lewis Hamilton gained the inaugural Emilia Romagna Grand Prix again in 2020, however since then it has been — and cease me when you’ve got heard this earlier than — an all-Crimson Bull affair. Max Verstappen has gained probably the most two editions of this Grand Prix, and final season noticed Crimson Bull lock out the entrance row with Sergio Pérez coming in second. Lando Norris of McLaren scored his solely podium of the 2022 marketing campaign a yr in the past at Imola, coming in third behind the duo of Bulls.

Listed below are the six largest storylines to comply with as F1 heads to Italy.

The way forward for Nyck de Vries

F1 Grand Prix of Miami

Picture by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Pictures

F1 followers know full nicely that “foolish season” is at all times lingering. Whereas now we have but to listen to any concrete information relating to drivers dropping their seat for the 2024 marketing campaign, final week noticed the primary rumblings {that a} workforce was sad with one among their drivers, and their place on the grid was turning into unsettled.

AlphaTauri rookie Nyck de Vries has struggled by way of the beginning of the season, and is coming off an 18th-place end two weeks in the past in Miami. Previous to that, de Vries notched a DNF when he slid off the observe in Baku within the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

His latest struggles have led to hypothesis that he might be changed this season if his type doesn’t enhance. One report famous that Daniel Ricciardo might be given the possibility to slip into his seat if de Vries couldn’t proper the ship, and whereas these reviews had been subsequently dismissed, Crimson Bull advisor Helmut Marko has reportedly issued a “yellow flag” to the rookie, giving him till mid-June to enhance his efficiency.

“Nothing will occur within the subsequent three races. We spoke to de Vries and he agrees with us: he wants to enhance,” mentioned Marko to F1 Insider. “The space to teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who’s doing an important job, is simply too huge. To make use of footballer jargon, Nick received the yellow card, however not the crimson but. If he improves, a driver change won’t be a problem.”

The driving force may benefit from a package deal of upgrades AlphaTauri is bringing to Imola. In line with Guillaume Dezoteux, the workforce’s Head of Car Efficiency, the AT04 will see some upgrades this week, together with a brand new ground. “We’re trying ahead to introduction,” mentioned Dezoteux to Motorsport. “It is a crucial step, it’s a huge step, so we hope it is going to meet expectations. There may be at all times a query mark over the standard of correlation. However to date, the updates now we have completed meet expectations.”

Whether or not these updates convey aid for de Vries, nevertheless, is a unique query.

The grid turns into a grind beginning this week

Imola kicks off the primary of two triple headers on the 2023 F1 calendar. Following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this week, the groups will head to Monaco for the crown jewel of the F1 calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix. Then it’s to Barcelona the next week, for the AWS Spanish Grand Prix.

The one different triple header comes later this fall, when the groups will head from Texas to Mexico, after which Brazil, for three-straight races.

The compressed schedule over the following few weeks will make life tough for the drivers and the groups, significantly when you think about the variations between the three tracks themselves. Whereas Imola and Barcelona are extra conventional racing circuits, Monaco is a punishing road course the place qualifying is important.

How the groups, and the drivers, deal with these subsequent three weeks might inform the story of your entire 2023 F1 season.

Can Haas make an Aston Martin-style leap?

F1 Grand Prix of Miami - Practice

Picture by Dan Istitene – Method 1/Method 1 by way of Getty Pictures

The success so removed from Aston Martin has been one of many main storylines to the younger F1 season, and we’ll get to them extra in a second. However as somebody who additionally covers the NFL — and is aware of full nicely how when one workforce has success, 31 groups look to emulate their progress — it’s no shock to see different lower-level groups seeking to manufacture an Aston Martin-style leap of their very own.

As soon as such workforce? Haas.

The workforce at present sits seventh within the Constructors’ standings for the time being, one spot forward of the place they completed a yr in the past. Haas can be coming off a powerful efficiency in Miami, the place Kevin Magnussen certified fourth forward of the Miami Grand Prix. Magnussen couldn’t problem for the workforce’s first podium, however his tenth-place end earned Haas one other hard-fought level within the standings.

Nonetheless, think about this. A season in the past Haas completed behind Aston Martin within the standings, with Aston Martin on 55 factors and Haas on 37. Now? Aston Martin is in second, having vaulted nicely forward of Haas and different midfield groups.

Now Magnussen is hoping that Haas can create their very own leap up the desk.

“We knew we had been going to take a step with the automobile this yr and we had been assured about that and it reveals on the observe,” mentioned Magnussen to RaceFans. “We do have that efficiency that we had been hoping for. Different groups have simply completed a extremely good job, too. So we’re nonetheless in that blend of the midfield. After all, we’d like to be in the direction of the highest, taking an enormous step like Aston Martin. However that’s what we’ve received to purpose to do sooner or later.”

Talking of Aston Martin … 33 quickly? And might they stress Crimson Bull?

Following the end in Miami, the place Fernando Alonso notched his fourth podium in 5 races, the veteran driver had this to say trackside: “I feel firstly of the yr a podium was wonderful. Now after 4 podiums we would like clearly extra and a minimum of a second place. However, you recognize, the 2 Crimson Bulls they’re at all times unbreakable and they’re at all times super-fast. However as I mentioned, possibly Monaco, possibly Barcelona now we have a chance.”

Then within the formal post-race press convention, Alonso elaborated.

“Clearly, we wish to step on step greater on the rostrum for P2 and finally someday now we have a chance to win a race – however for the time being it didn’t occur as a result of Crimson Bull is best than us. It’s stronger, it’s sooner and the reliability has been at all times excellent for them as nicely, ending each vehicles in each race. So, yeah, if someday there’s a crack there, if there is a chance, we’d like to verify we’re in that place and we’re nonetheless not making errors at any level within the weekend,” he mentioned in Miami. “I feel in Imola it’s going to be an fascinating battle once more. As you mentioned, loads of groups will convey upgrades to the automobile. Mercedes, in all probability Ferrari as nicely and we’ll attempt to preserve ending in entrance of them on Sunday.”

Alonso appears to be eying the upcoming triple-header as an opportunity for Aston Martin to make some strikes, and maybe transfer up the rostrum. In the event that they pull that off, it’d simply begin to put some stress on Crimson Bull on the entrance of the sphere.

Can a workforce — or groups — discover the proper upgrades in time?

F1 Grand Prix of Miami - Practice

Picture by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Pictures

As famous by Alonso, the opposite groups on the grid proper now are searching for the proper arrange upgrades to push them up the sphere, and nearer to the pair of RB19s on the entrance.

In line with one report, Aston Martin is a type of groups, seeking to convey their first huge improve package deal to Imola this week. Following the Australian Grand Prix, Workforce Principal Mike Krack famous that Aston Martin deliberate upgrades for upcoming races, together with Imola. “The largest enhancements will come later within the yr. We’ll have some new elements in Baku, Imola, Montréal, and a few at Silverstone however we’ll convey every small increment as quickly because it’s prepared, fairly than ready to bundle every part up into huge packages,” mentioned Krack after the Australian GP. “It’s an strategy that labored nicely for us final yr with the AMR22.”

After all, they aren’t the one workforce eying enhancements. Mercedes has been struggling to seek out the proper setup for the W14 all season lengthy, with each George Russell and Lewis Hamilton battling their challenger all through the younger marketing campaign. Whereas their efficiency up to now is a large enchancment from the porpoising points the Silver Arrows endured a season in the past, they’re nonetheless making an attempt to ship the mandatory upgrades.

“We have to handle our personal expectations, as a result of we’re bringing an replace package deal that’s going to consist of latest suspension elements, bodywork and another issues,” Mercedes workforce boss Toto Wolff mentioned after the Miami Grand Prix.

Nonetheless, whereas Hamilton is hoping for a “one-second improve,” Wolff cautioned that there are not any fast fixes in F1.

“However I’ve by no means in my 15 years in F1 seen a silver bullet being launched, the place all of the sudden you unlock half a second of efficiency,” added the Mercedes Workforce Principal. “So, I very a lot doubt that that is going to occur right here.”

Then there’s McLaren. When SB Nation spoke completely with Lando Norris forward of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the driving force outlined how Baku and Miami had been going to be the beginning of their upgrades.

“We’ve received a pair new bits on the automobile which is sweet, the workforce’s completed an excellent job to get them for now. However I feel these are the issues I feel we mentioned we should always have began the season with. However we’ve received them now, which I feel is the principle factor,” mentioned Norris forward of Azerbaijan. “They need to undoubtedly transfer the automobile ahead. It’s not possibly the perfect observe to point out that, and to show that precisely. It’s a bit extra biased, and the locations it’ll assist enhance the automobile possibly aren’t proven that a lot on this observe, possibly slightly bit extra in Miami. It’s undoubtedly going to be a step ahead, undoubtedly going to be some issues to assist the automobile give me some extra confidence and Oscar too.”

Workforce Principal Andrea Stella mentioned that minor upgrades will likely be coming to the MCL60 for Imola, with the following huge set of enhancements arriving forward of the summer time break. “There will likely be small developments at Imola,” mentioned Stella final week to Crash.web. “However solely minor ones in comparison with the step we have to take to be constantly within the factors, which is our aim.”

As for Ferrari, the Scuderia introduced a brand new ground to Miami, however Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc complained of inconsistency from the SF-23. The workforce is planning on some minor upgrades for Imola, however they did discover a silver lining of their efficiency in Miami, and particularly Leclerc’s crash close to the top of Q3.

Jock Clear, Ferrari’s Senior Efficiency Engineer and the driving force coach for Leclerc, noticed an enormous optimistic in Leclerc’s crash. “We noticed Charles backside out on the kerb in flip six. In that situation, the automobile will likely be very tough,” mentioned Clear. “However as I say, I feel fairly paradoxically it’s a testomony to what we’ve completed to enhance the automobile by way of the high-speed that Charles felt he might go for it on that final lap in qualifying and simply pushed too far.”

The final word query: Can anybody catch the Bulls?

The final word storyline this F1 season this season is a straightforward query.

Can anybody catch Crimson Bull?

Proper now, that appears unlikely. Verstappen and Pérez have pushed Crimson Bull to the highest of the Constructor’s standings, a full 122 factors away from Aston Martin. Verstappen leads his teammates 119 to 105 within the Drivers’ standings, and the duo are the one drivers to achieve triple digits to date this season, as Alonso sits third with 75 factors on the yr.

Can any of the groups put stress on Crimson Bull, or are they already crusing to a different title?

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