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Race Recap: 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Lance Stroll continued his fine start to the 2021 Formula One season with an eighth-place finish in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, while Sebastian Vettel was unfortunate to suffer a late retirement.

As it did on its return to the calendar last year, Imola provided another dramatic race as the old-school circuit punished errors in what proved to be an attrition-filled race.

A downpour before the race only added to the thrills as the wet circuit began to dry and open up the racing and strategy options.


On the formation lap, Lance suffered a brake-related issue, although Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team expertly rose to the occasion to ensure he started the race in 10th after a swift repair.

“All credit to the crew on the grid for getting my car repaired after the brake problem,” praised Lance.

Lance made one of his characteristic strong launches to immediately make progress, judging the conditions well to rise to seventh through the opening corners.

He spent the opening lap in an on-the-edge duel with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr, re-passing his rival when the Spaniard ran wide at Acque Minerali.

The duel was briefly halted when Nicholas Latifi crashed and caused a Safety Car, but the battle continued on lap six of 63 before Lance began a new contest with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

Lance attempted to gain eighth through the Tamburello chicane, but rode the kerb on the exit and allowed his rival through. Not to be deterred, Lance would make a move around the outside of the same corner on the following lap to move ahead.

Lance Stroll Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Sunday
The car was nicely balanced this weekend, but we still have some work to do to catch the teams ahead of us. That is where our focus is now as we get ready for Portugal.
Lance Stroll

Lance settled into the position for the remainder of his first stint and pitted on Lap 27 to switch from the Intermediate tyre onto a set of new Mediums.

He would soon return to eighth after moving past the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas before the latter was involved in a sizeable crash that brought out the red flag on Lap 33. Bottas was thankfully unscathed.

Lance would remain on the same tyre for the restart and had to be on his toes to avoid the spinning Yuki Tsunoda in front of him to take seventh.

The Canadian then began to report gearbox-related issues, but the driver and team were able to manage it to the line.

“We overcame a gear shift issue, which cost us lap time,” explained Lance. “But we managed to hang on until the end.”

Despite concerted pressure from Gasly, Lance was able to draw himself into DRS range of Daniel Ricciardo, which helped him hold onto seventh at the flag.

“That was a lot of fun with some exciting racing,” enthused Lance. “We have scored some important points and I really enjoyed myself today. The weather made things a little bit interesting and we made the most of it.”

Sadly, Lance was hit with a five-second time penalty following the race that moved him down to eighth.

“The car was nicely balanced this weekend, but we still have some work to do to catch the teams ahead of us. That is where our focus is now as we get ready for Portugal.”

Race Report

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

The dramatic Emilia Romagna Grand Prix had its fair share of twists and turns in a wet-to-dry thriller. Explore the Imola race with our in-depth look at the talking points and key numbers behind Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team's weekend in Italy.

Imola insight
Uncover the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix story


 While Lance was able to start the race in his intended grid slot after the brake-related issue, Sebastian was unfortunate to miss the five-minute cut-off to the beginning of the race as the team fixed the problem.

He was, however, later hit with a stop-go penalty due to the pre-race setback, which hindered progress.

Sebastian would start from the pitlane on new Intermediate tyres and he quickly made progress on the first lap to rise to 17th.

Sebastian opted to make an early stop on the third lap, making the most of the limited time loss to the field to have a fresh tyre advantage on a new set of Intermediates.

It initially paid off as he rose up to 14th through the opening phase of the race before making his second stop on Lap 22 for a set of new Mediums.

It was a strategic gamble from Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team as Sebastian became the first driver to switch from wet-weather tyres to slicks and he quickly reported that the grip was increasing.

Sebastian Vettel Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Sunday
As the track dried more, there was a phase of the race where we were actually quite strong.
Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian looked set to climb further up the grid until the red flag arrived and the call was made to switch Sebastian to a new set of Soft tyres to take advantage of the restart.

“There was the red flag, which was the right decision,” said Sebastian. “And for the restart, we chose to fit the soft tyres and gambled on a standing start happening, but they (race control) decided on a rolling start.

“Those soft tyres obviously had higher degradation compared to the medium, which made things more difficult at the end.”

Sebastian was then forced to retire one lap from the end with a technical issue.

“Things did not go our way today,” added Sebastian. “Even before the race, we had issues going to the grid and I had to start from the pit lane.

“That was not too painful because it was a wet start to the race, but the time penalty changed everything, especially because it came 20 minutes into the race.”

Next up

Portuguese Grand Prix

Round two

Lance vs Sebastian