The massed ranks of Ferrari followers might be hoping to have fun a triumphant homecoming at Imola on Sunday after Charles Leclerc’s early season domination raised expectations to the best ranges in years.
The Monegasque has taken 71 of a attainable 78 factors and Imola, a circuit named after workforce founder Enzo and son Dino, provides a scoring bonanza as the primary dash race of the marketing campaign in addition to first European spherical.
This yr the winner of Saturday’s 100km dash will take eight factors, which suggests Leclerc might gather a most 34 — together with a bonus for quickest lap — as a substitute of the earlier finest accessible 29.
The Ferrari driver’s present lead over Mercedes’ George Russell can also be 34 factors after three of a scheduled 23 races, that means that even when Leclerc attracts a clean he’s certain to be nonetheless main the standings after the weekend.
Leclerc has up to now taken two pole positions and all three quickest laps.
The Ferrari ’tifosi’ haven’t flocked to Imola with such sky-high expectation since seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher took a document seventh win there in 2006, his final season with the Italian workforce.
“It’s troublesome to consider the championship, however to be trustworthy, we’ve acquired a really sturdy automobile, a really dependable automobile too,” the 24-year-old stated after profitable in Australia.
“I hope it continues like this and if it does, then we in all probability have possibilities for the championship.”
Earlier on Thursday, Ferrari introduced that Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who has additionally made a robust begin to the season, will race for them till the top of the 2024 season no less than.
Workforce boss Mattia Binotto has dominated out introducing important upgrades for this race, given the hectic format with follow and qualifying on Friday, and Mercedes and Purple Bull are considering alongside the identical strains.
Purple Bull’s reigning champion Max Verstappen received at Imola final yr however has completed solely one of many three races, with the workforce in a battle to make the automobile extra dependable, and desires one other victory.
“The workforce trackside and again on the manufacturing unit in Milton Keynes are working extremely onerous, hopefully we’ll have an easy weekend and that we rating some good factors as a workforce,” stated the Dutch teen.
Lewis Hamilton was the 2020 winner for Mercedes however the seven-times world champion’s workforce are struggling this time with a bouncing automobile.
“Imola goes to be a difficult occasion,” stated Mercedes’ motorsport technique director James Vowles, whose workforce are second general regardless of their issues to resolve.
McLaren took a step ahead in Australia after struggling within the Bahrain opener earlier than recovering barely in Saudi Arabia, and may be contenders with Lando Norris, third final yr, and Daniel Ricciardo.
Alpine might be testing a brand new ground improve and are on the up with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon whereas Pierre Gasly is AlphaTauri’s massive hope in that workforce’s house race.