Scuderia Ferrari believes its faculty to quickly adapt to “unusual” situations could provide the Italian outfit with an edge at Imola where teams will work within a compressed two-day schedule.
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix’s reduced format will provide teams with just a single 90-minute practice session on Saturday before heading into qualifying in the afternoon.
Participants were given an unexpected preview of the shortened timetable at the Nürburgring where poor weather forced organisers to scrap Friday’s running.
But the challenge will be enhanced at Imola where F1 hasn’t raced since 2006, forcing teams and drivers – several of whom have never visited the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari – to quickly get up to speed.
However, Matteo Togninalli, Ferrari’s chief race engineer, believes the Scuderia could fare well in the unfamiliar environment.
“I think we have shown during this very strange season that we are able to adapt quickly to unusual situations, to react to the unexpected and our level of preparation is very good,” said the Italian engineer.
“Overall, I’d tend to think it could be an advantage.”
So how is Ferrari approaching a race weekend that will offer several variables?
“It means that preparation prior to the event is even more important to try and perform as well as possible: that goes for the car, the drivers, the team and the tyres, everything in fact that goes into the entire package,” explained Togninalli.
“Without any data to work from, as is the case with Imola, the level of fine tuning is reduced and one has to look at the bigger picture.
“Clearly, the simulator helps, especially to allow the driver to quickly familiarise himself with the track, not just its layout, but also other features that can impact performance, such as bumpy sections, where to ride the kerbs, the right lines and braking points.
“It’s true the drivers learn a new track incredibly quickly and are soon on the limit, but it’s also true that when you go to a new track, the lap times tumble much more quickly than usual.
“It’s important therefore to do as many laps as possible to get to the optimum level as soon as possible.”
Ferrari isn’t planning any significant updates to its SF1000 for Imola, but that doesn’t imply that the Scuderia’s contender heads into this weekend’s round unchanged since Portimão.
“Apart from the introduction of updates, seeking greater performance is an ongoing task: even if there are no visible elements, the car is always evolving,” he said.
“In the final part of this season, that work is also aimed at 2021, with new solutions to try.
“This track is very technical, with a reasonably high average speed. The weather should be pretty good, with temperatures in the 18°-20° C range.
“Based on what we have seen in recent races, I think our package could suit this track well and that we will be able to get the most out of the car. As usual, the drivers play a key role.”
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