Sky F1 favourite David Croft chatted exclusively to us ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for our weekly In The Pit Lane feature, assessing the big storylines leading up to the race.
Crofty discusses the return to an iconic track, the effects of a shorter race weekend, the raging midfield battles, and tips Charles Leclerc to be one of the drivers of the season.
Check out what the Sky Sports F1 man has to say below.
Midfield battle could go either way (again)
DC: It’s 90 minutes as opposed to four hours. The teams have got a lot to get through, they obviously have great simulators back at base but for some of these drivers it will be the first time they’ve raced at Imola before.
The likes of Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Riccardo, Sergio Perez, they’ve never raced here. It’s going to be a chaotic day for them on Saturday to try and get their eye in.
Charles Leclerc is ‘one of the drivers of the season’
DC: I think Charles Leclerc has been one of the drivers of the season. He’s been superb. He had the loneliest of races in Portimao, but lonely because he was up there in a position where you wouldn’t have expected Ferrari to be a few races ago.
The upgrade package seems to be suiting him, there seems to be less drag on the Ferrari. I’m not sure how they’ll get on this weekend as it seems to be a bit more of power-sensitive, this track. Can you fault Leclerc’s driving this year?
There have been times he and Seb [Vettel] have tangled in the earlier races but he is slowly but surely driving the wheels off that car and taking the Ferrari to paces they didn’t think it would be. The car is improving, so is Charles Leclerc.
Reduced practice could hinder drivers
DC: Until they get out on the track it will be very difficult to say. I would imagine, given the amount of chicanes here, Renault could enjoy themselves in some of the slower-speed corners. It’s sunny, it’s not cold, that might help McLaren a bit.
Racing Point need a good weekend, I know they’re third but they’d like to breathe a little more easily. And I think you put Pierre Gasly in that midfield battle as well. He rightly needed a new contract with AlphaTauri and he’s having a superb season.
You’ve got seven drivers there and you expect to see them scrapping away, producing a really good show.
DC: It’s changed a bit since F1 was last here. They’ve taken out the final chicane which means it’s going to be very fast down the straights, we’ve never raced here with DRS before either, so it will be a very good indication of what DRS has brought to Formula 1.
It’s not a track where overtaking is very easy. We only had one move, one pass the last time we were here, although I still remember it was a really good race to commentate on because you had Schumacher and Alonso battling it out for goodness knows how many laps, pushing each other.
It was like a good goalless draw in football, even though you didn’t get that move in the end it was still thrilling to watch. Sometimes you get really good goalless draws and in F1 parlance, that was a great goalless draw. We’ll get some more overtaking this weekend.
How to watch the Eifel Grand Prix
The race starts at 11:10pm on Sunday 1st November live on Sky Sports F1.
For full TV details as well as timings of practice, qualifying and the race itself, check out our comprehensive guide to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
For the full breakdown of F1 races coming up check out our F1 2020 calendar guide.
If you’re looking for something else to watch check out our TV guide.