Formula 1: 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Preview

Antonio Giovinazzi and Frederic Vasseur, Alfa Romeo Racing. Copyright: Mandoga Media

Dimidium facti qui coepit habet, wrote Horace once upon a time: he who has begun is half done. As we head to the country from which the Roman lyrical poet hailed for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, those wise words ring both true and foreboding. The first race of the season, in Bahrain all of more than two weeks ago, was indeed a solid beginning, with both cars in the fight for the points for the duration of the event – a far cry to where we were in 2020.

The team has made a big step forward over the winter, rejoining the midfield pack in a battle for a place in Q3 on Saturday and a top ten finish on Sunday. With the margins razor-thin, every small detail becomes crucial, every gain means a leap over a rival and every mistake takes you back rows on the grid. It’s early days, but the season is shaping up to be one of marginal gains at every end of the grid (and right in the middle, too) – which, in turn, makes it fun for the neutral viewer.

A still very long way ahead awaits, though: early signs remain such until they’re confirmed by further evidence of improvement, and a single event is obviously not enough to guarantee the sunlit uplands lay in front of us. Indeed, at best we’re only halfway through our work (if not even before that): the other dimidium facti still remains to be completed. For, despite the steps forward we made ahead of our 2021 debut, we still have to work to bring home points. Every push for a thousandth of a second, every little gain in the garage, in the cockpit or under the pit gantry – everything pushes us closer to where we want to be.

It will take hard work, dedication and commitment, knowing our rivals are toiling just as hard to nudge ahead of us: but hard graft need not scare us. As Horace himself also said, nil sine magno vita labore dedit mortalibus – life grants us nothing without hard work.

As they said it

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport: “We had a solid start of the season and that’s a good basis upon which to build, starting from this weekend. We have made a considerable step forward in performance, possibly one of the biggest across the field, and we are now in the midfield fight, but the top ten is where you have to finish to bring home the points so that has to be our objective for Imola. Last year, we had our best result of the season here and we can take that as an encouragement, although we know the form we showed in 2020 is only a vague indicator of what we can expect this time around. We have seen how difficult it is to overtake around this circuit, so our Saturday performance will be crucial to make sure we get to the race in the best possible position to bring home points.”

Kimi Räikkönen (Car #7): “We are confident we can be in the middle of the fight for points in Imola as well, but we are under no illusions it is going to be easy. We saw in Bahrain that even a good weekend doesn’t mean a top ten finish, so we know we have to keep pushing to improve everything we do from Thursday to Sunday: the difference between finishing just behind the top teams and outside of the top ten will be very small. Hopefully we can do our homework, have a good weekend and we get to be in that first group: we know what is in our control and what isn’t, so we just have to make sure we perform as we know we can.”

Kimi Räikkönen (Car #7). Copyright: Mandoga Media

Antonio Giovinazzi (Car #99): “What we saw in Bahrain gave us a big confidence boost and we are looking forward to seeing how competitive we can be in Imola. We know we can be in the fight, but we also know we need to deliver a flawless weekend to maximise our returns: the margins are very small in the midfield, especially in qualifying, and every little detail makes a difference. I would love to open my scoring tally in Imola, on home soil: having three home races last season didn’t spoil me, it’s always a special feeling to race at home and this weekend will be no different.”