[“I Don’t Get F1 Theme” by Ray Tsao]

Malena: Hey guys, my name is Malena Ramnath, and I'm your host here at I Don't Get F1. Just like everyone else this past year, I got caught up in the craze that is Formula One thanks to Netflix's hit show Drive To Survive. However, I know literally nothing about the sport beyond the hot guys, that I like Ferrari and it's a race. So, I decided to start this podcast as a way of recapping the races and researching the different technical aspects of the sport that aren't mentioned in Drive to Survive during the 2022 season alongside the timing of the races. While I'm learning, you guys can listen in and see if there was anything I missed or if there was anything helpful for my journey to get to know the sport for you. Each race week I’ll recap the last race and some new things I learned along the way. So with all that said this week, I'll be recapping the Imola Grand Prix, and yes, I'll be pronouncing it as Imola for the whole podcast, please forgive any wrong pronunciations. And I'll delve into the 2022 race changes at the first rainy race of the season. Also, the timing of this podcast actually releasing might not be super aligned with what I'm saying due to editorial stuff. But as I'm recording this, Miami has not yet happened. So that's where we're at. And let's get started.

[“I Don’t Get F1 Theme” by Ray Tsao]

So this race, the Made in Italy race, in Ferrari's home country is a bit different from the classic F1 race, in that it includes a F1 sprint. So there's fewer practices and they're all crammed together. Qualifying happens on Friday after one practice and then on Saturday morning, there's another practice for the F1 sprint. Qualifying, instead of setting the starting positions for the Grand Prix on Sunday, sets the places for the F1 Sprint. The F1 Sprint is a 100 kilometer dash with no mandatory pit stops. So in a way, it's a shorter, faster Grand Prix that happens the day before. The top eight who place in the F1 Sprint split 36 points amongst themselves with the top scores obviously scoring more. This is then the order of the starting position in the Grand Prix on Sunday. So in the F1 Sprint, Max Verstappen came in first, then Charles Leclerc, then Checo Perez, then Sainz, with the Red Bull Ferrari Red Bull Ferrari back and forth the rivalry was back in effect more than ever. This was an extraordinary outcome from Sainz, who had not even qualified beyond tenth place in qualifying due to a small mistake, and Checo similarly was in seventh place in qualifying, which just demonstrates the true pace of the Ferrari and the Red Bull in the actual race setting. So with some points already gained and very little drama from the F1 sprint, the teams are ready to move on to the main race. The main race results had Verstappen in pole, Perez in second, and Norris in third, claiming his first podium of the season. Two honorable mentions were Russell in the Mercedes coming in fourth and Bottas in the Alfa Romeo coming in fifth.

So the first thing I want to unpack here is Ferrari’s performance. This was a rainy track, so it's a lot, there's a lot of room for slip ups. There's a lot of room for people spinning out, because the track is wet and it makes for more dangerous driving conditions just like in real life. This is after all, the main Italy race though and so plenty of tifosi – by the way tifosi is fans in Italian and it's what the Ferrari fans call themselves – were out in the stadium hoping to see a big Ferrari win after their impressive comeback to first place this season. Unfortunately, Leclerc ended up placing sixth and Sainz didn't finish at all. They were definitely the losers in this race. Leclerc not only had a bad start, which sent him from second to fourth, but after he clawed his way back to third, he ended up making a rare error due to the rain in the chicane lane and smashed into the barriers. This forced him back into the pit lane and extra time to get another front wing of the car. The front wing is the front bottom section that kind of looks like a vacuum cleaner, and this sunk him into ninth place. From there, he fought back up to sixth as he had much more pace and skill than most other drivers, but it was still a disappointing outcome for Ferrari. In addition, this allowed Max Verstappen to take a relatively uncontested win, which breathed new life into his dreams of a second World Championship as he moved to only 27 points behind Leclerc in the drivers standings after his win. With a 1-2 finish at Red Bull, Christian Horner, their team principal, was all smiles.

Sainz, on the other hand, didn't get to finish for his second consecutive race seeing as he crashed into Ricciardo who made an error in the first lap and sent him into the gravel on the side of the track. He was forced to retire and was quoted saying later that he paid for Ricciardo’s mistake. The tifosi went home largely disappointed, but the Ferrari drivers will get a second chance to redeem themselves later in the season at Monza, another Italian race.

Beyond the season’s big rivalry, however, it is also worth noting that Lando Norris has done well consistently when racing in Italy and brought home his first podium for McLaren. This race pushed him above this countryman Lewis Hamilton in the drivers standings, and continues to highlight his potential going forward. In addition, Haas had their best ever qualifying with Kevin Magnussen coming in fourth, and they added two more points to their score after this race. The Aston Martin's finally got into the points with both Stroll and Vettel scoring finally, but Alpine was unfortunately not successful in that department.

I also really wanted to unpack the Mercedes situation. George Russell has always been at the head of the new young talent despite being stuck for years at Williams, but is performing insanely well this season. He's one of the two drivers this season to have always finished with points, the other being Charles Leclerc – who's currently leading the championship – and he's killing the game so far. And despite Mercedes’ fall from the top of the leaderboard, he's doing a lot to stay high up in the points. However, many people say that one's biggest competition is one's own teammate seeing as the skill of the driver can truly be compared without the factor of a better or worse car. So my question to you all is: what is going on with Hamilton? A seven time world champion finishing in 13th place at Imola, while his teammate is in fourth? I'd be interested if George Russell starts to take the lead despite Hamilton’s experience on this team. And not to mention Bottas finishing in fifth, which is an incredible position for the once lower midfield team of Alfa Romeo. Having been dropped from Mercedes for Williams – Williams’ George Russell – in an effort to change the supporting lineup for Hamilton, these consistent scores for him must be quite sweet especially as he beats out and truly competes with his former team. Okay, guys, so that was Imola. Super interesting race as we see rivalry cement themselves in a dynamic shift in a more permanent way during the season, especially at a rainy race.

But before I head off, let's talk about something a bit more technical – the 2022 rule changes. The thing about the rule changes is that honestly, they were super technical and had a lot to do with the engineering of the cars. I don't fully understand some parts, I'll be honest, as I think it takes almost a mechanical engineer to understand how these cars run fully, and how certain changes in aerodynamics, for example, or different parts can affect the race and the car. However, the main takeaway here that I want you guys to have is that the changes were created to increase safety, reduce costs, increase sustainability, increase chances for rookies and increase potential for competition on the track. Some of the key changes in more detail are that the power units or the engines are no longer allowed to change unless for reliability, safety or cost saving reasons to limit budget requirements and to create a focus on the sustainably fueled 2026 engine that is currently in development. Teams are also not allowed to test the car's aerodynamics as much and cannot spend as much time in wind tunnels. And teams also have to use larger Pirelli tires which require less pre rescuing to warm up and thus increase sustainability and safety. Along with the lower budget cap, these regulations have increased sustainability and reduce costs for the teams, making the less funded teams much more competitive. If the bigger teams can't spend or test as much, the playing field is leveled. Seeing as the car parts are all being changed up, F1 had also added a two part pre-season test with one in Barcelona and then one in Bahrain rather than one in Bahrain only so that teams and drivers get used to the new car with more room to breathe, increasing safety and comfort. Finally, there are now mandatory practice outings for the rookies, which means that drivers that are new to F1 must drive in at least some sessions of the first practice, which some large outfits choose not to do so as not to waste time during race preparations. This gives the rookies more time to practice and time to show off their skills to other teams that might be recruiting. In another attempt to make the drivers’ lives nicer, practice on non-F1 Sprint weekends happens later on the Friday evening to make sure drivers get enough time at home between races. So F1 is taking care of their drivers, making the sport more enjoyable by increasing competition, promoting sustainability and reducing costs with the changes in the 2022 rules.

That's all I've got for you guys today. But thank you so much for listening, and I hope you learned a lot about the Imola race and the rule changes. I'll see you soon to talk more about Miami and Spain and hopefully more about Gasly, my love, and Ferrari. This has been I Don't Get F1 brought to you by me and NBN Audio. Bye guys!!

[“I Don’t Get F1 Theme” by Ray Tsao]