Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Ferrari enter this quick stop in Europe with all the momentum on their side. That, in turn, will mean that Sunday's race at Imola will also bring with it a tremendous amount of pressure for Leclerc, Sainz and the Prancing Horse side as the expectations of the Ferrari faithful, the tifosi, will be at a high it hasn't experienced since the days of Michael Schumacher's dominance.
Coupled with the fact that fans have not been in attendance the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, and it is little wonder that the 62,000-seat circuit has been sold out for Sunday's race.
How to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Imola
- Date: April 24
- Location: Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, 3.050 mile, 19-turn circuit
- Time: 9 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to watch for
After his win at Melbourne, Leclerc leads the driver's championship with 71 points, followed by Mercedes-GP driver George Russell at 37, Sainz at 33, Red Bull's Sergio Perez at 30, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes at 28 and defending series champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull at 25.
A large part of this is simple: Ferrari has been bulletproof, while Verstappen (two DNFs) and Perez (one) with Red Bull have suffered mechanical issues, and Mercedes has been struggling to come to grips with their cars' balance. The mechanical edge being enjoyed by Leclerc is such that he says he has never been more relaxed in the car and doesn't have to overdrive it any more to extract every bit of speed out of it he can.
On the back foot
Aston Martin: Nico Hulkenberg was out of the seat as Sebastian Vettel returned at Melbourne, which was pretty much a disaster for Aston Martin. Vettel and Lance Stroll combined to crash four times over the weekend at Albert Park, and while Stroll worked his way to a 12th place finish in Australia, Vettel scored a DNF in his first race back.
Red Bull Racing: It's hard to comprehend, but Verstappen and Perez are indeed on the back foot. One gets the impression that if they don't turn things around quickly, it will come too late for Verstappen to put up any challenge to the Ferraris and successfully defend his title. Red Bull rebounded well after the double DNF at Bahrain with a win at Saudi Arabia, so expect them to put up a similar fight at Imola.
Running in place
Haas: They've come under fire once again for the amount of help they are receiving from Ferrari (sharing of wind tunnel data and personnel), but team boss Gunther Steiner says it is all water off a duck's back to the team and that they are more focused on recovering lost momentum from their difficult race in Australia.
Best foot forward
Ferrari: We can overlook Sainz's DNF at Australia as just one of those bad weekends that most drivers have at some point in the season. Certainly, Leclerc's pace and domination at this point in the season shows that Ferrari has finally gotten all the right buttons pushed -- for now.
McLaren: A fifth- and sixth-place finish for Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, respectively, has quieted the critics for the time being. Ricciardo said that the car is coming on but seems to be at its best on high-speed circuits, so perhaps we should expect the two will come back to the front of pack at Imola and not soar again until Azerbaijan on June 12.