Significant rear wing change for Ferrari catches the eye in Imola paddock

Uros Radovanovic
Charles Leclerc sits in the Ferrari SF-24.

Ferrari will race a heavily-revised SF-24 in Imola

After six flyaway race weekends, F1 is officially back in Europe.

Imola is a legendary track to start with, so let’s see what characterises this circuit, how teams are preparing for it, and who it will suit the most.

Emilia Romagna GP – Everything you need to know

The Imola GP is a true old-school track where Formula 1 has raced since the 1980s. The track has remained almost the same with minor changes, while the sport itself has changed significantly which can pose certain problems.

Most importantly, the track is not really wide enough for today’s dimensions of Formula 1 cars, which results in very difficult overtaking.

The former San Marino Grand Prix track has only one DRS zone on the main straight, which is quite long and practically the most common place for overtaking.

Additionally, the track is characterised by medium-speed corners with several slow ones. If you follow the driver in front well and stay close enough throughout all the corners, only then can you fight for overtaking on the straight. Imola is a true test of driving abilities.

This also means that qualifying on Saturday will be of utmost importance and will largely determine who will take how many points home on Sunday.

Unlike some previous tracks, Imola is one where lap time minimally increases with more time spent on the track. This means that we will get a true picture of the teams’ performances during the practice sessions.

For this race in Italy, Pirelli has prepared the softest tyres available – C3, C4, and C5. Similar to the race two years ago, teams will base their strategy on a one-stop, solely because of the difficulty of overtaking and the much larger time lost in the pit stop compared to other tracks.

Teams’ aero packages

Engineers face a tough job finding the right balance between downforce and softness needed for this specific track configuration. Being stable enough in slow and medium speed corners will be key to maintaining the gap and not allowing the driver behind you to overtake in the DRS zone.

This is exactly where the Red Bull team excelled in Imola two years ago. They were by far the fastest on the track then, although some predictions suggested that this track would suit the home Ferrari team better.

The Red Bull team continues its trend with the most loaded rear wing. This configuration seems to suit them the most, and more downforce on such a track certainly matters. Although they haven’t had problems with it so far, the only area where they might lose out is the long straight, punishing weak maximum speeds.

However, considering Max’s excellent form in qualifying this season, Red Bull remains the absolute favourite.

On the other hand, we have Ferrari, which has changed the design of the rear wing for the first time this season. What remains the same is the fact that they are still one of the teams with a low-loaded rear wing.

Imola will be a real test for Ferrari given the lower temperatures, as it was in Suzuka and Shanghai. During these two races, they had big problems with heating and maintaining the optimal tyre temperature later on. Therefore, this will be an excellent test for the Italian team that has prepared a large number of upgrades.

McLaren is again in the middle in terms of rear wing design. Excellent upgrades have raised expectations for this team, which could suit this type of track considering they have improved in the segment of maximum speeds.

Among other teams, attention should also be paid to teams like Aston Martin and Sauber. They have also prepared a long list of upgrades hoping for better performances.

Aston Martin is chasing Mercedes for fourth place on the constructor’s list, while the only team based in Switzerland are chasing their first points of the season.

We are in for a very interesting period of F1. The European tour has always been a turning point in the season, showing the true performances of the teams.

This is a real opportunity for teams like Ferrari and McLaren to try to stop Red Bull’s complete dominance and make the season even more exciting.

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