After a thrilling opening to the 2021 Formula One campaign in Bahrain, the season continues this weekend as the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix takes centre stage.
It was Lewis Hamilton who came out on top in the season-opener, exhibiting a defensive masterclass to hold off a late challenge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who looks ready to put up a serious fight this year.
Hamilton, who began his quest for a record-eighth world title in style, won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last year, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas finishing in second place.
It is a notoriously difficult race for overtakes on the narrow circuit in Italy, meaning qualification will be crucial on Saturday. And with Verstappen taking pole position in Bahrain after finishing a staggering 0.388 seconds quicker than Hamilton in qualifying, the Brit will be hoping for an improved performance this time round.
With the intriguing spectacle approaching, Sportsmail takes you through everything you need to know.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are set to go to battle once more after a thrilling opener
When is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix?
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is set to place on Sunday, April 18, with the race getting underway at 2pm BST.
The first and second practice sessions will take place on Friday, April 16. Each will be just one hour long, as opposed to the 90-minutes we’ve seen in the past, due to a rule change to the 2021 season.
The final practice session will take place on Saturday morning, starting at 10am, before qualifying gets underway on the same day at 1pm.
How to watch the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Sunday’s Grand Prix – just like every race in the 2021 schedule – will be able to watch on the Sky Sports Formula One channel.
Sky Sports subscribers can also watch the race online by streaming it on Sky Go.
Viewers can also buy Sky Sports day pass from NowTV for £9.99, with a month pass at £33.99.
Channel 4 will also provide highlights of the qualifying rounds at 7.30pm BST on Saturday and the race itself at 6.30pm on Sunday.
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix race schedule
The race schedule was rearranged earlier this week to avoid an overlap with the start of Prince Philip’s funeral.
With seven of the 10 teams based within the UK, the Formula One bosses made the decision out of respect to the Duke of Edinburgh, who served as president-in-chief of the British Racing Drivers’ Club for 42 years.
Friday, April 16
- Practice 1: 10am – 11am
- Practice 2: 1.30pm – 2.30pm
Saturday, April 17
- Practice 3: 10am – 11am
- Qualifying: 1pm – 2pm
Sunday, April 18
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix odds
Though it was Hamilton who won the first race of the season in Bahrain, Sunday’s race is certainly no easy pick, and that’s reflected in the odds.
The bookies have Hamilton and his rival Verstappen as join-favourites to prevail in Italy, with Mercedes’ Bottas in third.
- Max Verstappen – 5/4
- Lewis Hamilton – 5/4
- Valtteri Bottas – 13/2
- Sergio Perez – 10/1
- Daniel Ricciardo – 40/1
- Lando Norris – 40/1
- Charles Leclerc – 40/1
*Odds as per Betfair and correct at the time of publication.
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix race details
Hamilton won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last year, with Bottas finishing in second
2020 winner: Lewis Hamilton
Circuit length: 4.909km
Race distance: 309.049km
Race lap record: 1:15.484 (Lewis Hamilton, 2020)
First Grand Prix: 1980
What happened in the season opener?
Lewis Hamilton claimed the first race of the season in a thriller at the Bahrain Grand Prix
The first race of the season most certainly provided a glimpse into what is set to be a thoroughly exciting campaign ahead.
In what was a highly strategic race, it appeared to have been Verstappen who was in the driver’s seat (pardon the pun), as he converted his pole position into an early lead.
With Red Bull opting to pit Verstappen earlier than his Mercedes counterpart, the lead switched three times between the pair throughout, with the Dutchman actually overtaking Hamilton with just three laps remaining.
An unhappy Verstappen was forced to hand Hamilton the lead straight back however, after executing the overtake when off the track.
Hamilton then put in a defensive masterclass under significant pressure to win the opening race to a season for the first time since 2015, in what was the perfect start to his quest for an eighth world title.
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Bottas finished in third, with Brit Lando Norris behind in fourth.
Formula One driver standings
Hamilton sits top of the standings after winning the first race of the season in Bahrain
Formula One constructor standings
With Hamilton finishing first and Valtteri Bottas in third, Mercedes sit top after the first race