Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes crew count on Max Verstappen and Red Bull to bounce again and provides them a torrid check of velocity at this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the second spherical of this 12 months’s world championship. Three weeks on from the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the place Hamilton dug deep into his reserves to conjure up his report 96th Formula One victory forward of the Dutchman, the seven-time champion is aware of it will likely be a problem to repeat his 2020 win on the previous Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
Mercedes crew boss Toto Wolff was delighted to see Hamilton triumph within the opener, however mentioned he’s beneath no phantasm that Mercedes have proved they will match the apparent velocity of this season’s Red Bull automotive.
“We may have won the first round, but we are under no illusions that this is going to be an easy season,” he mentioned.
“Our car still lacks speed on a single lap and Red Bull have the edge at the moment.”
In Bahrain, Verstappen secured pole by three-tenths, however Hamilton made essentially the most of technique and race-craft to win, with the help of a pricey error by the Dutchman, by simply seven-tenths of a second.
Hamilton’s Bahrain victory showcased not solely his velocity, however his expertise and supreme race-management, qualities that he’ll want once more this season as he seeks to fend off the problem for his crown from Verstappen.
Hamilton rode his luck to win the 2020 Emilia Romagna race at Imola with some aplomb – and the assistance of a well timed Safety Car intervention — final November as he roared in the direction of the drivers’ title.
His win was the third triumph in a run of 5 as he took benefit of Mercedes’ superiority and team-mate Valtteri Bottas’s unwell fortune to take command of the title race on the slender and bumpy previous monitor, again in use for the primary time since 2006.
Hamilton made it plain final 12 months that he liked the “old school” nature of the circuit set within the rolling vineyards of Emilia Romagna and Wolff shared his emotions.
“It’s where won secured our seventh constructors championship that weekend,” he mentioned.
“And it’s such an historic and iconic venue, which the drivers really enjoy – twisty and fast with a variety of corners.”
Apart from Hamilton, just one different driver has beforehand gained at Imola – two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who has returned to race for the Alpine-branded Renault crew this 12 months.
Alonso might be searching an enchancment on his pointless run in Bahrain, the place he retired, as will fellow veteran and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel after a laboured first outing for Aston Martin.
Their expertise might assist at Imola, however it’s more likely to be Red Bull setting the tempo in an exhilarating duel with Mercedes – with McLaren, Ferrari and AlphaTauri in sizzling pursuit.
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