Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: UK start time, how to watch, qualifying changes

F1 returns to one of its most historic venues this weekend for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Here is the start time, alongside other crucial information, on how to enjoy all the action at Imola.

Round six of the 2023 season spells an opportunity for numerous teams to bring upgrades to their cars. Firstly, Mercedes are promising wholesale changes to their W14 challenger as they look to close the gap to Red Bull.

Meanwhile, both Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri also have new parts for the race in Italy. Zhou Guanyu expects Alfa to find “ a few tenths” with the upgrades – so, maybe he and Valtteri Bottas can challenge for points once more.

All the teams are likely still in the shadow of Red Bull, though. The Milton Keynes-based squad have won all five races in this campaign, with four of those being one-two finishes. Although their qualifying pace is matchable, the RB19 currently looks untouchable in a Grand Prix.

That is if we have a race at all this weekend. The Emilia Romagna region in Italy has endured incredible amounts of rain in recent weeks. This has prompted the Department of Civil Protection to issue weather warnings – thus putting the GP at risk of cancellation.

Despite this, per Motorsport.com, F1 management believe that the round shall go ahead as planned. But the weather could cause disruption for spectators and those travelling to the Imola.

Still, as it stands, fans can get excited about the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Now, what time does each session start?

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: weekend schedule

What will likely be a damp FP1 gets the weekend at Imola underway at 12:30pm UK time on Friday 19 May. Later that same day, FP2 commences at 4pm.

On Saturday 20 May, FP3 precedes qualifying, with the last practice session beginning at 11:30am. Meanwhile, we will find out the grid for the race from the qualifying session at 3pm on Saturday.

Lastly, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will start at 2pm UK time. As the first race of the season in mainland Europe, this is a more traditional time slot for British F1 fans.

How can I watch the action?

As is the case throughout the 2023 F1 season, UK viewers can watch the action unfold exclusively on Sky Sports. Their designated F1 channel will broadcast every single session live throughout the weekend.

Sky’s expert crew will also be on-hand to provide build-up and post-race analysis, too.

But, if you do not have Sky, there are other options. For instance, NOW TV allows users to purchase a day pass to watch live Sky Sports events. In addition, NOW TV offers a monthly pass that gives you access to Sky Sports channels without a Sky TV subscription.

Alternatively, Channel 4 will be showing highlights of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for free. Channel 4 will broadcast a qualifying recap at 7:30pm on Saturday 20 May – a few hours after the live session.

The following day, the broadcaster will also show highlights of the race. These will air at 6:30pm on Sunday.

A potentially rain-affected round six could throw some chaos into the mix at Imola. If it is dry, a new qualifying feature could play havoc, too.

What is the new qualifying change at Imola?

Unlike sprint weekends, the Emilia Romagna GP is sticking with the typical Q1/Q2/Q3 elimination format to decide the grid. However, there are some changes in tyre allocation.

Normally, teams have free choice to choose whichever compound they want to run in qualifying. And, as the soft is the fastest, this is the compound that gets used during all dry qualy sessions.

At Imola, though, this will not be the case. The teams will be locked into using a different compound in each session. So, in Q1, all drivers will have to use the hard tyre. In Q2, the 15 cars left will only have the medium available. Then the top 10 left in Q3 will battle for pole position on the soft tyre.

Per PlanetF1, this will allow tyre supplier Pirelli to reduce the number of sets that they have to bring to the race. This goes down from 13 sets of dry tyres for each car down to 11.

The rain that is expected in the region this weekend means that the qualifying tyre changes may be a moot point, though. But don’t worry, there are more innovations with the wet compounds as well.

Pirelli are introducing a brand new full wet tyre at Imola. The manufacturer claims that this new compound does not need bringing up to temperature using tyre warmers before going on track – unheard of in modern F1.

The unpredictability of both the tyre performance and weather could spring a few surprises in Italy. Therefore, make sure you do not miss any of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix action this weekend.

Featured image credit: Getty