Formula One is back at Imola for the first time since 2006 as the circuit plays host to this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (Race: 8:10am ET Sunday).
The former venue of the San Marino Grand Prix is the fourth of the five new or previously utilized circuits added to this season’s reorganized calendar. It will be the third Italian circuit to stage a Grand Prix this year and that is the first time since 1982 that one country has hosted three races.
Keep reading for our full Emilia Romagna Grand Prix preview and predictions, wrapping up with hopefully sportsbook-defying betting picks at the end.
Instead of the usual three-day weekend, with two practice sessions on Friday before another on Saturday morning before qualifying, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be run over two, with just a single practice session on Saturday. That could, in theory, help to shake up the field, although it would still take a brave punter to back anyone but Mercedes for victory.
The team claimed their 10th victory of the season by converting first and second on the grid to a one-two finish in Portugal last weekend. Lewis Hamilton led home Valtteri Bottas for his eighth win of the year and the 92nd of his career, the most by any driver in the history of the sport. Hamilton cannot quite confirm the seventh drivers’ title of his career at Imola, but Mercedes are highly likely to wrap up a seventh consecutive constructors’ championship.
The odds from the USA sports betting sites clearly reflect the likelihood of another victory for Hamilton and Mercedes this weekend. So, too, the probability of them being joined on the podium by Max Verstappen, who took a third consecutive top-three finish and his ninth of the season for Red Bull in Portugal. Value will have to be sought elsewhere.
Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz finished fourth through sixth in Portugal. Sainz has a solid chance of again getting himself into the top six on Sunday.
The Spaniard has finished there in each of the last two races and five times in total this season. He hasn’t always had the best of luck, but he still only trails his teammate Lando Norris by six points in the drivers’ standings. A strong end to the season could see Sainz come out on top in that battle prior to his move to Ferrari for 2021.
The relative pace of McLaren, Racing Point and Renault, the three teams fighting it out for third in the constructors’ championship seems to vary from race to race. With no useful previous data to turn to, it is difficult to predict which will be the fastest of that group at Imola. If McLaren are at least in the mix, Sainz can be fancied to finish in the top six.
Sergio Perez took seventh for Racing Point in Portugal, ahead of the Renaults of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo and the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
It was only the fourth time this year that Ferrari have got both of their cars into the points in what is on course to be their worst season in 40 years. It was a result that they might be able to replicate on Italian soil this weekend. The circuits at which they have achieved those finishes have all had relatively similar characteristics and Imola does also look to be the kind of track at which their power deficit won’t be quite as obvious as it is at other venues.
Ferrari managed to get both of their cars into the top 10 at the Tuscan Grand Prix in Mugello in September. Again close to headquarters, at a circuit whose full name carries those of both Ferrari’s founder Enzo Ferrari and his son Dino, they may just do so again.
Kimi Raikkonen only just missed out on what would have only been his second points scoring finish of the year for Alfa Romeo after showing that his racing instincts haven’t been diminished too much by age in a superb opening lap that saw him make up 10 positions from his starting slot of 16th.
Raikkonen is the only member of the current grid to have previously raced at Imola in Formula One. While that experience may not count for much given the myriad rule changes over the last decade and a half, he still has a decent chance of getting into the points this weekend. As already noted, the relative lack of power of the Ferrari shouldn’t be quite so much of a handicap as it has been elsewhere, and so points are not out of the question.
As a result, USAbetting’s F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix predictions and betting tips verdict for this preview are:
- Back Carlos Sainz to finish in the top six @ +175 with Bovada, Intertops & BetOnline.
- Bet on Ferrari to secure a double-points finish (two cars in the top 10) @ +150 (6/4) with Bovada.
- Back Kimi Raikkonen to finish in the points (that’s a top 10 finish) @ best odds of +350 (7/2) with Bovada or BetOnline.