The historic history of Formula 1 at Imola did not fail to disappoint over the weekend. From Max Verstappen winning his first race here, to Lewis Hamilton not coming in first in what seems like years, to the helmet slaps and the middle fingers that were given between racers Valteri Bottas and George Russell made it feel more like a circus than a professional sporting event. Not only was this race exciting because of the historic and tragic history that Imola has, but the usual pole position was not achieved by the usual pole setter. Hamilton, who struggled all throughout practice and qualifying at one point found himself halfway down the grid due to something that the fans of the sport never see do. Hamilton made what seemed like a costly mistake. In Hamilton’s defense, the weather was not the best and he was not the only one who spun out or crashed for that matter. Bottas and Russell had a heated on-track exchange that resulted in fingers being thrown and helmets being slapped.
As the race continued so did the drama. Not only did the weather progressively get worse over the race but for the teams with new drivers, running this historic track seemed troublesome. The main problem that these few drivers had was with the track limits. For teams like Aston Martin and Alpine who have a brand new driver line up seemed to have the same problem of getting the car to grip coming out of the corners. According to Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, who had a good qualifying and put his car on the first row of the grid, called the track conditions after qualifying “brutal” and ” a learning process.”
After the first two races, the grid is already more mixed up than it has been in the last few years of the first month of racing. Mercedes, who usually have a big lead right now lead by just a few points and that is something that they are not accustomed to. Red Bull, who is led by Verstappen has already begun to make a push for the driver’s championship with over-the-top aggressive racing that is somehow working out for them. In the chase for the constructors’ points, Mercedes is also leading by a very slim margin and with the way that Bottas drove over the weekend, they could be in some serious trouble in the latter part of the season with Red Bull passing them in the points.
This season is unlike any other season in Formula 1 because of new regulations that restrict the teams from dumping huge amounts of money into research and development to create a more even playing field and that can already be seen just two races into the season. It would just take one good race for any of the top three teams to slingshot past their rivals and get that coveted second-place spot going into the next few races.
We will have to see what happens at the next race in early May to really get a grip on who will be battling it out with Mercedes who is led by the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.