Setting the standards for the season was going to be a challenge for all teams this season, but the results of Bahrain show it is proving a bigger challenge for some than it is for others.
With that, the question that lies – Who needs a big weekend in Imola?
One driver who had a disastrous opening weekend is Nikita Mazepin. Losing control of his Haas in Q1, the rookie started his first race as an F1 driver in 19th position.
On top of this, Mazepin kicked off his F1 career with a DNF as he spun off the track after just 3 turns of the first lap of the race.
Mazepin was brought into the team for the 2021 season along with his teammate, Mick Schumacher, to help Haas get back on their feet financially. With the lack of interest from sponsors for the independent team along with the introduction of a spending cap for next season, Haas’s budget needed the financial aid that is Mazepin’s billionaire father, Dimitry Mazepin.
But after the performance in Bahrain, a question mark hangs over Mazepin’s ability to deliver unless he, along with the Haas engineers, decipher a solution to combat the braking issues experienced last weekend.
Likewise, if Dimitry Mazepin’s efforts to find an opportunity for his son in F1 are not fulfilled by Haas, the American team may find themselves in a precarious financial situation in the coming years.
Haas is expecting better results for the Russian driver this weekend in Imola as Guenther Steiner, Haas F1 team principal, stated to Haas reporters:
“It was one weekend from 23. We need to get better and better, work on getting more laps in, and keep learning – that’s the mission.”
With that being said, Let’s hope the mission goes as planned entering this weekend’s race!”
Guenther picks through the opening race of the season.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) March 28, 2021
Not only was Bahrain a washout for some of the rookies, but for those who are more familiar with the trade too.
Sebastian Vettel took a hard hit as he started at the back of the grid last Sunday. Vettel managed to claw his way up to 15th position, but still a much longer way out of the points than expected from Vettel.
All of Aston Martin’s hopes are pinned on the 4-time world champion to bring home the points. But – finishing with only 33 points last year – and after the disaster of a weekend in Bahrian, Vettel needs a good run at Imola to get back into his stride.
On the topic of the ex-Ferrari driver, Ferrari themselves seem to have a problem. In an ideal world (ideal being somewhat like the outcome of 2019), Ferrari’s biggest rival is Red Bull as the two battle for 2nd place in the Constructor’s Championship.
However, as seen last season and again in Bahrain, Ferrari’s biggest worry this season appears to be McLaren.
With the leading Ferrari of Charles Leclerc sandwiched between the new pairing of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren are not showing lenity for anyone on the grid this season. The pressure is on for Ferrari to regain their status in the Constructors Championship. For that to happen, the drivers need to pull off something special this weekend at their team’s home track.
With the Imola Grand Prix being absent from the schedule since 2006 until 2020, the race will be refreshing for all drivers on the grid to say the least. The question is, can the teams that need it most pull it off?