‘Highly-awaited Mercedes’ predicted to ‘make others pay a high price’ at Imola

Michelle Foster
The Mercedes of George Russell pursued at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes of George Russell pursued.

Never mind Ferrari and McLaren challenging Red Bull at Imola, former F1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi believes Mercedes could kick-start their fightback next Sunday.

Although Red Bull are leading this year’s championships having won four of the six races, Ferrari capitalised on Max Verstappen’s DNF in Australia before McLaren pounced on a Safety Car restart in Miami.

‘The highly-awaited team in Imola is certainly Mercedes’

It’s the first time since 2022 that Red Bull lost to two different teams.

Back in 2022, it was Mercedes who joined Ferrari in climbing onto the top step of the podium when George Russell led home Lewis Hamilton in a 1-2 at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The team has been unable to repeat that feat since, and this year they have not even managed to finish on the podium leaving them down in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

But putting several significant upgrades on the car in Miami, including a new floor, Minardi believes they could turn their fortunes around at the next race at Imola.

“The highly-awaited team in Imola is certainly Mercedes,” he told his website. “From what we hear their championship should start right from the Enzo and Dino Ferrari Circuit.

“With a sixth place, despite a car that was not at the highest level [in Miami], they showed that they did not win seven World Championships by chance, and could make others pay a high price.”

George Russell v Lewis Hamilton in the 2024 championship

👉F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

👉F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

Minardi awaits ‘Ferrari’s response’ as Red Bull lose ‘peace of mind’

The Miami Grand Prix also saw McLaren introduce a host of upgrades for the MCL38, 10 in total for Lando Norris’ car, which was billed as a ‘2.0’ such were the changes.

For Imola, Ferrari are expected to do the same.

The Scuderia will put a heavily-revised car on the track, one that includes Red Bull-styled sidepods and a new floor, with the team said to be testing the upgrades during a “filming day” later this week.

Minardi said: “McLaren made many updates that gave more than positive results.

“We are now waiting for Ferrari’s response. In Miami, they already introduced some updates with positive results in anticipation of the important package expected in Imola.

“Red Bull remains the car of reference, even if it seems to have lost the peace of mind that has constantly distinguished them in recent seasons due to the well-known internal issues.

“Verstappen, author of the double pole position, the win in the Sprint race and second place in the race remains the fixed point. I think that the Dutchman wanted to satisfy but without taking excessive risks.”

The Italian, revealing that “contrary to what was said in the TV commentary, there are still tickets available for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday” for Imola, added: “I look forward to seeing many of you at the Imola Circuit to cheer and support your favourites and to experience a weekend of motorsport with an intense race programme.”

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