Formula 1 returns to action after a three-week gap for the Imola Grand Prix. The qualifying session will take place on Saturday, the 17th of April, 2021. It will be followed by the race on Sunday, the 18th. After the Bahrain Grand Prix, it is quite clear that Mercedes and Red Bull will be the two teams who will battle it out for pole position on Saturday.
Imola Grand Prix Qualifying Preview
Just like every other Formula 1 season, the qualifying session is divided into 3 parts, namely Q1, Q2 and Q3. These sessions will decide the starting grid for the race on Sunday. Each qualifying session lasts for 45 minutes. Q1 takes up 18 minutes, Q2 takes 15 minutes and Q3 is 12 minutes long.
Qualifying is the most important session of the Imola Grand Prix. Similar to the race in Monaco, overtaking in minimal at the iconic Italian circuit. Excluding the opening lap overtakes, only six took place at last season's Imola Grand Prix. That means Saturday's session will be one of the most intense in the 2021 season.
Meanwhile, Red Bull had a roller-coaster of a day. Max Verstappen finished third in FP1 but had to retire early in FP2 after reliability issues forced him to pull up at the start/finish line. In FP1, the Dutchman was a mere 0.058 seconds behind the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
The qualifying session at the Imola Grand Prix could have some surprises in store. Home teams AlphaTauri and Ferrari looked deceptively quick. Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc looked fast and got into the top 4 during practice.
Imola Grand Prix Qualifying Predictions
Based on the results from practice on Friday, it is difficult to look past Mercedes for pole position during the qualifying session at the Imola Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas will look to remain ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton. However, he must be wary because the Briton usually leaves his best for last.
If Hamilton takes pole on Sunday, it will be the 99th of his stellar Formula 1 career. It would also put him in the best place to win his 97th Grand Prix race.
Red Bull are also in contention for pole. The team dominated at the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, despite not getting the win. However, they haven't been as quick this weekend. Therefore, they're not the favorites for pole position at the Imola Grand Prix.
The midfield battle is tight, as usual. Ferrari have brought some aero upgrades for the Imola Grand Prix which seem to have worked well for the Scuderia. The team from Maranello look set to be the best of the rest and could aim for a podium if luck comes their way.
Haas, unfortunately, look set to qualify P19 and P20. The American team have already declared that they are not going to develop their VF-21 any further.
When is the Imola Grand Prix qualifying?
The qualifying session for the Imola Grand Prix is going to take place on 17th April 2021, at 13:00 PM local (CET) time.
For fans in the UK, the qualifying session begins at 1 PM BST.
For viewers in the United States, qualifying will begin at 8 AM Eastern Time.
For fans in India, qualifying begins at 5:30 PM IST.