Autosport (UK)

TRACKSIDE VIEW

- JAKE BOXALL-LEGGE

To reach Acque Minerali, you actually have to walk up a slight hill. It’s counterint­uitive, but that’s the nature of the undulating Imola course. It’s one of F1’s classic venues, wrapped in parkland, with a thin ribbon of Tarmac weaving between trees along the back end of the circuit. Why Acque Minerali? The worthy answer is that there are three distinct phases that we get to watch here: how each driver exits Piratella and meanders down the hill, determine how each car is sprung as they reach the compressio­n at the bottom, and how much rear-end downforce they have on the corner exit. In reality, we’re here it’s because it’s shaded and it’s a sunny day.

FP1 opens, with a variety of cars carrying aero rakeage and other measuring devices, so they trundle into view at moderate speeds.

Then there’s a loud cheer that suffuses the atmosphere around the double right-hander: a Ferrari comes into view and induces an almost-pavlovian reaction from the scarlet-robed fans. Charles Leclerc generates one round of audible fervour, and Carlos Sainz the other almost immediatel­y after the noise dies down slightly.

How about the compressio­n at the bottom of the hill? The Mercedes is running lower as it rattles the ground at the apex

“A Ferrari induces an almost-pavlovian reaction from the fans” of the first part of Acque Minerali, sparking profusely under the load. Haas reserve Ollie Bearman comes through as a comparison point, and the VF-24 is generating fewer specks of tangerine-tinged embers, while Yuki Tsunoda’s RB proves even more parsimonio­us with the fireworks display. Even the Ferrari isn’t as low-slung as the Merc.

Max Verstappen then comes through on a lap. A loud backfire rings through the trees as the Honda powertrain’s throttle is closed, before he returns to the gas pedal. Although his RB20 isn’t generating the lap time at this point of the day, he still looks inch-perfect on the exit kerb and the suspension absorbs the rumble strip like a sponge.

There’s a red flag shortly after; Alex Albon slaps a kerb and his car shuts down as it seemingly knocks a sensor loose. There’s a slight wait in proceeding­s because the marshals can’t touch the car to begin with, so for the restart we make the very short walk to watch how the drivers take Piratella. Fernando Alonso comes out wide and bolts on the steering to draw his Aston Martin to the left for the next corner. George Russell, by comparison, has taken far less exit kerb and is pretty much set for Acque Minerali before the halfway point of the descent.

With the added bonus of grass and gravel, it’s great to watch the drivers being challenged here. Track limits are clearly defined now – if you’re off, you’re off…

 ?? ?? Albon’s Williams trundles off track out of Acque Minerali after thump-induced shutdown
Albon’s Williams trundles off track out of Acque Minerali after thump-induced shutdown
 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Vantage point offers view downhill to Acque Minerali
Vantage point offers view downhill to Acque Minerali
 ?? ?? Grass and gravel make track limits properly meaningful
Grass and gravel make track limits properly meaningful

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom