The fast character of Imola
Built in 1953 as a semi-street circuit, the Imola circuit was considered one of the fastest in the world for the first twenty years of its existence. Although the modern layout is still largely the same, several chicanes have been built over the years to get the speed out of it.
Although Formula 1 races were previously held at Imola, the first official Grand Prix was not held here until 1980. The circuit then replaced Monza for the Italian GP, and it was such a success that they decided to come back. From 1981, the San Marino Grand Prix was created especially for this purpose.
The history of Imola
With its beautiful location between the historic centre of Imola and the hills of the Apennines, the F1 race quickly became a classic here. Battles like the one between Ferrari teammates Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve became famous.
Unfortunately, it was also soon discovered that the circuit at Imola was not without its dangers. The crash of Gilles Villeneuve in the corner which would later be named after him, already showed this in 1981. Also Nelson Piquet and Gerhard Berger were lucky to survive their crash at Tamburello in 1987 and 1989.
It would all be a foreshadowing for that one dramatic weekend in 1994 when first Roland Ratzenberger crashed in the Villeneuve curve and Ayrton Senna crashed in Tamburello a day later. They both died from their injuries. So after that year, chicanes were built in those places.
The home of Ferrari
Although the track is named after Ferrari's founder, the team themsleves have been dry here for a long time. From 1984 to 1998, all victories went to British teams, with McLaren and Williams accounting for the majority.
The Tifosi, who turned the hills around the track red every spring, had to wait until 1999 before Ferrari could win here again. That was thanks to none other than Michael Schumacher. He won five more times until the last San Marino Grand Prix in 2006, and with a total of seven victories, he's also a record holder.
Changes for 2020
The circuit has changed a lot compared to the GP in 2006. The Variant Bassa has been removed. The straight between Rivazza and Tamburello is now at full throttle, taking the track back to its old character.
The San Marino Grand Prix has also been renamed. The race now gets the name of the region where the circuit is actually located: The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton won the first edition in 2020, but it was Verstappen who claimed victory in 2021 and 2022.