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NEED TO KNOW: The most important facts, stats and trivia ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

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After a series of flyaway events to kick off the 2024 season, Formula 1 arrives in Europe this weekend for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Need to Know is your all-in-one guide for the week ahead with statistics, driving pointers, strategy tips and plenty more. You can also keep track of how fans have voted using our popular F1 Play predictor game.

The action will begin with first and second practice on Friday, May 17, followed by final practice and qualifying on Saturday, May 18, and then the main event, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix itself, on Sunday, May 19.

IT’S RACE WEEK: 5 storylines we’re excited about ahead of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Vital statistics

  • First Grand Prix – 1980 (Imola held the Italian Grand Prix in 1980, the San Marino Grand Prix from 1981-2006, and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from 2020 onwards)
  • Track Length – 4.909km
  • Lap record – 1m 15.484s, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2020
  • Most pole positions – Ayrton Senna (8)
  • Most wins – Michael Schumacher (7)
  • Trivia – The circuit’s president is Gian Carlo Minardi, formerly boss of the eponymous Formula 1 team that gave Fernando Alonso his debut in F1.
  • Pole run to Turn 1 braking point – 553 metres
  • Overtakes completed in 2022 – 55
  • Safety Car probability – 100%
  • Virtual Safety Car probability – 33%
  • Pit stop time loss – 29.01 seconds

FAN VIEW: Lando Norris breathed new life into the 2024 F1 season with that brilliant maiden race victory in Miami, and the impact of that is felt here. Max Verstappen still heads the F1 Play voting, but only just. Norris and Ferrari man Charles Leclerc are right behind him in what is virtually a three-way split so far.

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The driver’s verdict

Jolyon Palmer, former Renault F1 driver: Imola is a fantastic circuit. It’s steeped in history, and you feel that as you’re driving around it. It’s punishing – short run-offs of grass and gravel – so there’s not a lot of room for error, and plenty of tough corners as well.

The chicanes early on are probably slightly more straightforward than some of the other parts. Piratella is quite quick, blind towards the exit as well, and that can be a track limits issue if you drop too far wide out of there. And the fact is, a lot of the track is quite tricky.

PALMER: Norris’s first win was well deserved – now the challenge is on to battle Verstappen at Imola and beyond

Acqua Minerale is tough as you have to make sure not to carry too much speed into Turn 12, and then you have to get the kerbs right at Variante Alta. If you avoid the kerbs too much you lose performance, so it’s threading the eye of the needle through the kerbs, trying to get maximum performance, but not bouncing the car towards the wall, which is quite close on the exit.

And again braking for Turn 17 catches you out very easily, particularly early on in practice when you get used to it, because it’s quite steep and there’s gravel on the outside. It just lures you to brake too late. This is a classic challenge and a favourite for fans and drivers.

DHL Fastest Lap Award - 2022 Emilia Romagna GP

Emilia Romagna GP pole-sitters

  • 2022 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 2021 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2020 – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

F1 NATION: McLaren’s Imola excitement and Mercedes’ quest to transform their fortunes – it’s our Emilia Romagna GP preview

Emilia Romagna GP winners

  • 2022 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 2021 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 2020 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

FAN VIEW: It’s a similar story here, with F1 Play voting relatively tight compared to those early races where Verstappen absolutely dominated. He has the edge for Imola but there is excellent support for the Ferraris of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, along with Norris and Verstappen’s Red Bull team mate, Sergio Perez.

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Max Verstappen took pole position, Sprint victory and the Grand Prix win on the last visit to Imola in 2022

Strategy and set-up keys

Pirelli have chosen the softest trio of tyre compounds from their 2024 range for this weekend’s action at Imola, with the C3 serving as the white-marked hard, the C4 as the yellow-marked medium and the C5 as the red-marked soft.

The three softest compounds being in play could lead to more strategic options during the race, which has traditionally been a one-stop, reinforced by the track holding one of the biggest pit lane time losses of the year.

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According to the Italian manufacturer, “the track is not particularly hard in terms of the forces exerted on the tyres, even if the asphalt is still relatively abrasive”, despite the most recent resurfacing work dating back to 2011.

A packed programme across the Grand Prix weekend, which includes Porsche Supercup, Formula 3 and Formula 2, means the track surface should also grip up considerably as each session passes – providing no rain washes it away.

FAN VIEW: Absolute domination from the aforementioned front five, with literal slim pickings for the rest of the field. Outside of Norris, the Red Bulls and Ferraris, it is Oscar Piastri (McLaren) who is performing best on F1 Play. Meanwhile, there is virtually no support for seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

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Current form

Red Bull claimed victory in all bar one of the 22 rounds held during the 2023 season, but they have been beaten twice in six races this year thanks to sterling efforts from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Now the question is whether those occasional chinks in the Red Bull armour – which has simultaneously been dented by news that star designer Adrian Newey is to leave the team – will develop into anything more significant as the campaign wears on.

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As well as that maiden victory in Miami, Norris also has form at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on his side, having finished third on the last two visits to the Imola track in McLarens that were nowhere near as competitive as the recently-updated MCL38 now at his disposal.

And, with Oscar Piastri set to receive the rest of the updates that Norris took on last time out, McLaren could be an even stronger force around the fast, flowing 4.909-kilometre track this weekend.

Race Highlights: 2024 Miami Grand Prix

But the papaya cars will not be the only ones hoping to challenge Red Bull, with Ferrari fired up to perform on home soil, Mercedes set to unleash more updates of their own and Aston Martin aiming to build on flashes of pace.

Then there’s the tight battle behind, as RB currently hold the edge over Haas in the race for P6 in the constructors’ standings, Alpine take heart from their first points finish of the season and both Williams and Kick Sauber attempt to get off the mark.

READ MORE: Mercedes provide update on Imola upgrades as they identify issue ‘blunting the benefit’ of new parts

FAN VIEW: Yuki Tsunoda has been terrific in recent races, culminating in that P7 finish in Miami, and he’s expected by F1 Play gamers to go well again here. There is some strong support for Alex Albon of Williams and the Aston Martin pair of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, while Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) is also popular with voters.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Race winner Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates with his

Norris and McLaren will be pushing to build on their breakthrough win in Miami

Iconic moment

This is a track that has seen triumph and tragedy over its decades of hosting Formula 1 Grands Prix.

Back in 1994, Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger both lost their lives in separate incidents here on a fateful weekend that cast a long shadow on F1. But there have been joyous moments at Imola as well.

This week we thought it would be fitting to pick Fernando Alonso’s battle against Michael Schumacher in 2005.

Scroll down to join the two-time world champion as he watches it back.

Alonso watches back his epic battle with Schumacher in Imola 2005

Elsewhere in Emilia Romagna

There's more happening at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari this weekend that’s worth knowing, including the return of the Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships and inspiring initiatives in the F1 paddock...

  • Formula 2 is back, having last raced on the Australian Grand Prix weekend. Isack Hadjar and Campos Racing became the latest victors of 2024 in Melbourne, but it's Zane Maloney and Rodin Motorsport that remain the combination to beat heading to Imola. The Barbadian Sauber Academy racer tops the drivers' standings on 62 points, with Rodin topping the teams’ table on 78 points.

DESTINATION GUIDE: What fans can eat, see and do when they visit Imola for the Emilia Romagna GP

  • Formula 3 also returns to Imola this weekend after a visit Down Under, where PREMA Racing’s Dino Beganovic took victory in the Feature Race. PREMA stand alone atop the teams' standings with 83 points, but it's tight at the top of the drivers' championship. Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Luke Browning and Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli are both on 37 points after the opening two rounds.

  • Young people from the ‘Il Tortellante’ project, which teaches people with autism to make fresh pasta by hand, will demonstrate their pasta-making skills inside the F1 Paddock. Two-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura supports the project and will visit the group over the weekend. 

  • Imola has also partnered with a local course of female mechanics to showcase the world of Formula 1. Students will go behind the scenes to learn about the different areas of engineering skill needed to put on a successful F1 race.

  • The Awabot returns to the Paddock this weekend. The Awabot robots will be visiting garages and meeting drivers across the weekend connecting F1 fans from Montecatone Rehabilitation Institute and Bologna Children’s Hospital.

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