Daniel Ricciardo looking forward to the ‘challenge’ of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1 returns to the historic Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola this weekend for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. It is the first F1 race at the circuit since 2022, as flooding in the region a year ago forced the cancellation of last season’s race.

For Visa Cash App RB F1 team it is also a home event, with the circuit just 15 kilometers from their Faenza factory. That means a lot of familiar faces in the stands, and a lot of expectations for the team.

“This weekend sees the start of the European season for Formula One and it’s a special race for Visa Cash App RB as the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola is only 15 km from our base in Faenza,” said Alan Permane, the team’s Sporting Director, in their media preview. “It’s very much our home race and we will have the pleasure of seeing a lot of our factory staff in the grandstands over the weekend.”

As for the circuit itself, Permane outlined the challenges that the drivers face this weekend.

“The circuit features very high-speed changes of direction, plenty of elevation change and some tricky kerbs to master. A compromise between a stiff car for the high speed and some compliance to ride the kerbs is required,” added Permane. “Pirelli are bringing their softest [tires] in the range which is one step softer than has been used here in the past. We will be looking to maximise mileage with both drivers on Friday to optimise qualifying and race performance.”

Daniel Ricciardo is looking forward to those challenges.

“The circuit is fun and challenging, really fast and quite narrow, really high-speed chicanes and a qualifying lap around there is so much fun,” said Ricciardo. “It’s really on the edge with some undulations in the chicane where you kind of really smash the kerbs, so it does create a tricky race, making qualifying important.

“Overtaking, although possible, is trickier around more of this kind of old school circuit. It can create a difficult environment when you’re trying to be aggressive and overtake around there, but this is a challenge that we all face and try to enjoy. All of us haven’t raced there for a couple of years now, so it’s going to be good,” added Ricciardo. “I really loved my first time there in 2020; it was just a really enjoyable circuit to drive and a really good experience so, I’m excited to go back.”

The return of the grid to Imola brings back memories for Yuki Tsunoda, who recalled the flooding in the region a year ago. Tsunoda was one of many residents of the region who lent a hand during the recovery effort.

“The flood had a massive impact, there was mud everywhere and there are people that have lost everything: their house with everything inside; their belongings and memories, photos. It’s pretty incredible how the whole city and whole region of Emilia-Romagna recovered right after, how people worked together to at least clear the roads so that you can travel around,” recalled Tsunoda.

“It was impressive to see how the people were helping each other. People who were not affected just went around town with shovels and baskets asking if they could help people they didn’t even know,” added the driver. “My house was not affected, but I couldn’t just stand still and look at the others helping, so I took the shovel and went to the city centre, which was massively affected, and started to clean the streets.”

As for the race itself, Tsunoda loves both the technical elements of Imola, and the chance to race in front of the entire organization.

“The track itself, I really like it. It’s very technical, lots of medium-high speed corners and high-speed chicanes so it’s a bit like Suzuka but slightly narrower. It’s always enjoyable to drive and I have a lot of good memories there,” added the driver. “I’m excited to go back and see especially our VCARB grandstand filled with the people who work so hard back in the factory so I can drive a fast car. We’re finally able to drive in front of factory people alongside those who support us, and I hope the team can achieve a good result in front of them!”

The team is coming off a very productive week in Miami, that saw both Ricciardo and Tsunoda finish in the points in the F1 Sprint Race with six points between them, and then Tsunoda tacked on six more points for the team with a seventh place finish in the Miami Grand Prix itself. VCARB heads to Imola sitting sixth in the Constructors’ Championship with 19 points on the year, 12 points clear of seventh place Haas.

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