For the second consecutive season, Formula 1 heads to the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The drivers return to racing three weeks after the Bahrain Grand Prix, which opened the season. In that race, Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling duel over Max Verstappen to pick up the season-opening win by a margin of 0.7 seconds.
Hamilton, who lost to Verstappen in qualifying at Bahrain, earned his first pole position of the 2021 season and the 99th in his career as he defeated the two Red Bull Racing drivers in Q3.
Sergio Perez, who missed Q3 in Bahrain after poor tire management from Red Bull, defeated his teammate, Verstappen, and for the first time in his career, “Checo” qualified on the front row. Perez will start second after having to start the Bahrain GP in last place. He ended up finishing in fifth place in his Red Bull debut.
There is a lot of pressure on Verstappen in this race as his track record at Italy has left a lot to be desired. Last season, he did not finish in any of the three races at Italy and has never finished higher than fifth (Monza 2018) in a race at Italy in his career.
Charles Leclerc will start fourth for the second-consecutive race to start the season after qualifying fourth at Bahrain. He looks to improve from his sixth-place finish at Bahrain and give Ferrari a quality finish as his teammate, Carlos Sainz, failed to reach Q3.
Pierre Gasly will start fifth for AlphaTauri once again in 2021. He is looking to turn around his recent misfortunes after qualifying in the top five. Last season during the Emilia Romagna GP, Gasly qualified fourth, then had to retire from the race due to engine issues on lap 8. In the last race at Bahrain after qualifying fifth, he lost his front wing a few laps into the race and dropped toward the back of the pack, finishing 17th. AlphaTauri is looking for a points finish for the second race in a row as Yuki Tsunoda, who finished ninth in the Bahrain GP, crashed out of Q1 and will start 20th.
The two McLaren drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, qualified sixth and seventh place. Ricciardo finished third in the last Emilia Romagna GP and hopes to build on his seventh-place finish in Bahrain. Norris had to settle for seventh in qualifying after his lap that got him on the front row was deleted due to him exceeding track limits.
Valtteri Bottas qualified eighth, the lowest start for him since he qualified ninth for the Turkish Grand Prix last season. He will look to work his way into the top four as his teammate will have to deal with Red Bull cars right behind him at the start of the race.
Esteban Ocon, who didn’t make it out of Q1 in Bahrain, will start ninth, six places ahead of his teammate Fernando Alonso, who will start 15th. Alpine looks to earn their first points of the season after both drivers finished outside the top 10 in Bahrain.
Lance Stroll will start 10th once again this season after starting and finishing 10th in Bahrain. He qualified three spots ahead of Aston Martin teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who will start 13th.
Williams, who did not finish with a single point in the 2020 constructor’s championship, had George Russell and Nicolas Latifi make it out of Q1. Russell will start 12th after crashing out of the last ER GP during a safety car and Latifi will start 14th as Williams attempts to get their first points since the 2019 German Grand Prix.
If you are watching in the United States, coverage for the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will begin at 9:00 a.m. EST. You can catch the race on ESPN.