Teams breathing a sigh of relief at Imola this week as Formula One returns to Europe are sadly mistaken if they think that the Italian race will be a relaxing affair. It is certainly nearer to home for the teams than the first three races of the...
Teams breathing a sigh of relief at Imola this week as Formula One returns to Europe are sadly mistaken if they think that the Italian race will be a relaxing affair. It is certainly nearer to home for the teams than the first three races of the year, but Formula One has been coming to Imola for over 20 years and in that time, the circuit has developed a fearsome reputation as a "brake and engine-breaker."
The circuit buzzes too with the joy and excitement from the local fans who pour into the track in their thousands hoping to see a Ferrari victory and Michael Schumacher has not disappointed the tifosi, winning here in 1999 and 2000.
Named after the Ferrari founder and his son, the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola) is another chance for Michael Schumacher to extend his lead in the Formula One Drivers' World Championship following his win in Brazil a fortnight ago. He currently leads his brother Ralph in the world championship by 8 points. Michael also has the opportunity to set a new record at Imola as he is one of only three drivers to have won three times here (the others being Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna). For Rubens Barrichello, Imola could be the first chance to score some valuable points following three unfortunate non-finishes so far this year.
Along with Germany and France, Italy hosts two Grands Prix per season. The Italian Grand Prix outside of Milan at Monza is not until September so the first chance most European fans have had to see their favourite teams in action will be this weekend at Imola. The passion at this race is helped by the fact that the region is noted for its legendary commitment to motoracing - Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Ducati are all local marques of legendary status.
For the drivers and teams, Imola is a circuit where power is crucial. Cars have to accelerate away from slow chicanes as well as high-speed turns laying as much power on the track as possible. Shell provides Ferrari with a fuel that combines the power necessary for such a track with the fuel economy needed to find the best strategy.
"The circuit is smooth with a mix of medium and high speed corners" says Shell Global Motorsport Business Manager, David Barnes, "Aerodynamics become really important here. We will be working with Ferrari on pit stop strategy to give them flexibility over the timing of the pit stops."
"The fuel we will be using at Imola is very similar to the fuel available in Shell service stations just outside the circuit and all around the world," continued David. "Shell V-Power was developed with Ferrari using their Formula One program as a test-bed. The thought of Michael and Rubens using Shell V-Power on Sunday on the race track and people driving home with the same fuel is what Shell's involvement is Formula one is all about."
Shell has won seven of the twenty-one races held at Imola and along with Ferrari is a strong contender for another win on Sunday.Whatever the result, thousands of fans will be willing the Ferrari cars to victory on Sunday waving flags and cheering fanatically as the European season begins in earnest.