Red Bull Can Make Speed Count at Imola

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After the fireworks in Bahrain, this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promises to be just as dramatic with both big names and local heroes out to make an impact.

Lewis Hamilton will be looking for a second win at Imola.

The opening round of the 2021 F1 season produced the one thing we’ve been craving for a number of years, Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen.

Red Bull have taken a big step forward from last season and the questions of whether Mercedes were hiding their true pace in testing were answered in a ding-dong tussle between the two throughout the weekend. 

Hamilton came out on top, with his brilliance shining through despite having the slower package. Verstappen will be hungry for revenge at Imola and a fascinating renewal of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is in the offing. 

Verstappen Looks To Set Record Straight

Taking pole position last weekend by three-tenths of a second, Verstappen and Red Bull proved that they were the ones to beat this season. The Austrian outfit usually starts the season slowly, before their development programme brings them into the equation late in the campaign. That doesn’t seem the case in 2021 and that’s a scary proposition for Mercedes. 

Hamilton ultimately won the race due to a driving masterclass and given that Imola should play to the strengths of the Red Bull, he may struggle to drag his car home in front this time around. Imola is a high-speed venue and with overtaking opportunities limited to the main straight, qualifying will prove crucial.

Given the strength Verstappen showed in qualifying last month, if he does dominantly take pole once again, available at 20/23, Hamilton’s immaculate driving may not be enough to stop the flying Dutchman grabbing victory at 13/10

AlphaTauri On Home Turf

This is the home race for AlphaTauri, who are based just down the road in Faenza. With Imola returning to the calendar last season, there is little data to look through, but the Italian outfit was very quick at the track in 2020.

Pierre Gasly qualified in fourth position and was desperately unlucky to retire early with a coolant leak. Daniil Kvyat showed the pace of the car, however, by coming home in fourth. AlphaTauri didn’t have the best of weekends in Bahrain, but their speed was evident and they’ll be buoyed by a return to home turf. 

Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda will both have high hopes of a top-six finish, with the latter putting on a dazzling display of overtaking in his debut F1 race. The AlphaTauri tends to be quick over one lap and that could set them up for a strong weekend with their team 16/1 to take the Constructors’ prize. 

Points On Alfa Romeo’s Radar

Alfa Romeo were one of the surprise packages in testing and the team were likely disappointed to come away empty handed in 11th and 12th three weeks ago.

The promise is there, however, and the team scored a double points finish at last season’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen was agonizingly close to scoring points in Bahrain, finishing just a few seconds adrift. At a track his consistent driving style suits, he should be threatening for points and is 7/5 to be in the top 10. 

The same can be said for an often underestimated Antonio Giovinazzi, also 7/5 in that market and will be gunning for a memorable performance at his home race. A few retirements could enable Alfa Romeo to take home a crucial haul of points early in the season. 

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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