Emilia Romagna GP: Our race predictions

Valtteri Bottas secured pole position for the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but how will they fare in the race?

Our F1 reporters predict what could happen in Sunday’s race.

Adam Dickinson – Russell can bag his first F1 points

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Valtteri Bottas was mightily impressive in qualifying, but he’ll have to step it up again tomorrow. Given Lewis Hamilton’s mastery of tyre wear over recent races I’m still backing him to prevail but it’ll be an interesting battle to follow if Bottas retains his lead on the first lap.

With such a long run down to the first braking zone the second and third rows of the grid might actually have the advantage so look out for Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo mixing it up.

I’ll back George Russell to get the first points of his career (can’t believe I’m saying this), and if Alex Albon can navigate the opening laps cleanly he could be on for a good result.

Also look out for the Racing Points; they’ve qualified lower down than they would’ve liked but will have chance to mix up their strategy and it’d be no surprise to see Perez to get a top six finish.

Andrew Wright – Midfield could be a feisty affair

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Hamilton’s post-qualifying comments didn’t give fans cause to be optimistic for a thrilling Emilia Romagna GP. According to the Briton, the straight at the end of the lap is where most, if not all of the action will take place. That makes a good start even more important.

It’s a long run to turn one, and such has been Hamilton’s dominance of his team-mate, I expect him to use the slipstream and set off into the sunset. I hope I’m wrong, though, and we get to see a good scrap at the front between the usual suspects.

Behind the top three is where it gets interesting. Pierre Gasly starts ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Albon and Charles Leclerc, and that has the makings of a feisty affair. Leclerc continues to outperform his Ferrari while Albon is driving for his 2021 seat, but I expect the in-form Gasly to bring home the best-of-the-rest crown.

Elsewhere, the battle for the final points places is tough to call given the lack of running we’ve seen. The Racing Point’s are likely out of position with Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll in 11th and 15th, while Esteban Ocon showed pace that belies his starting position of 12th. If overtaking is as tough as we’re led to believe, strategy could be key.

Rob Hansford – Hamilton to beat Bottas into the first corner

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Once again, Pierre Gasly put in another incredible performance, so it will be interesting to see if he can mix it up with the top three in the opening laps, but I expect him to be battling Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon all race long.

The two McLarens also looked to be close to the Renaults, so expect them to play a part at some point during the race.

But, my money is on Lewis Hamilton to win. Valtteri Bottas pulled it out when it mattered in qualifying to take pole position and this is a track that will be hard to overtake on, but I still believe Hamilton could have the lead by the first corner if he gets a good start off the line.