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Emilia Romagna Grand Prix predictions: Leclerc can thrill the Tifosi
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Adam Scriven
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc will look to build on his strong start to the season
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc will look to build on his strong start to the season

- Max Verstappen has started the season with a record-breaking six pole positions
- Charles Leclerc is the only driver to have finished in the top four in all six races this season
- Recommended bet:
Charles Leclerc Podium Finish
- Recommended bet:
Fernando Alonso top-six finish

After a globetrotting opening chapter of the season, Formula 1 pays its first visit to Europe for this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Imola circuit in Italy.

Lando Norris became F1's latest new winner in Miami last time out. A timely safety car appearance helped deliver him to the front of the pack. Still, thereafter, his upgraded McLaren proved more than a match for the usually dominant world champion Max Verstappen and his Red Bull.

At Imola this weekend it is Ferrari's turn to unveil their long-awaited updates, and the fanatical Tifosi will be hoping that will allow Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to challenge for victory.

The stats

Max Verstappen leads the Championship by 33 points, and he will look to return to winning ways in Italy, especially after last year's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled due to catastrophic flooding in the area.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton picked up his first top-six finish of the season in Miami last time out, while McLaren's victory in Miami made them the third different winning constructor this season. Red Bull won all bar one race in 2023.

Norris' Miami win was his third podium appearance in four races, while Yuki Tsunoda has three points finishes in the last four events.

Fernando Alonso has every chance of pushing for a top-six finish this weekend
Fernando Alonso has every chance of pushing for a top-six finish this weekend


It is a rare sight indeed to see Verstappen simply unable to keep up with a rival, but that is what happened in Miami last time when Norris led the field away after a mid-race safety car and disappeared into the distance.

Verstappen was later found to have floor damage on his Red Bull, while Norris' McLaren team have tended to excel on sprint weekends, so it is no surprise to see Verstappen a hot favourite to start a new win streak at Imola this weekend.

However, that apparent vulnerability will have raised the hopes of the whole paddock, not least Ferrari. Monza is often considered the Scuderia's spiritual home, but Imola's Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari is named after their founder and his late son and is the track closest to their factory in Maranello.

A long-planned significant upgrade is ready for the scarlet cars and the team have looked much more organised in the second year of team principal Frederic Vasseur's tenure.

After struggling in qualifying in some races, Leclerc was much sharper in Miami, grabbing a front-row starting berth.

The Monegasque driver finished third, securing his third podium of the season and keeping up the grid's longest active run of top-four finishes, stretching back to last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, where his car conked out on the warm-up lap.

Clearly McLaren have taken a step forward, and Red Bull are guaranteed to be strong, but if Ferrari's upgrades deliver the expected improvement, there is no reason Leclerc should not be fighting for the top three once again.

Aston Martin veteran Fernando Alonso has had a couple of difficult weekends, but you write off the wily Spaniard at your peril.

Alonso started 15th in Miami after a disastrous qualifying session, but he climbed to ninth by the finish. In China, a strategic gamble backfired, and he finished seventh after running as high as second in the early laps.

The competition is getting tougher but granted a straightforward weekend, Alonso looks capable of grabbing a third top-six finish of the season.

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