Imola's journey back to F1 | How Imola returned to Formula 1

10-04-2021 18:00

We are now less than a week away from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, the second edition of the race which was first held last season as part of the chaotic 2020 season. It proved to be a popular pick and has made an unexpected return this year but how exactly did we get here? It has been a crazy series of events so here is a recap of everything that happened in the lead up to this year’s race at the famous circuit!

Scrapped from the calendar

Let’s start all the way back in 2007, Imola had just been removed from the Formula 1 calendar despite making their case to the FIA World Council. The track had hosted the San Marino Grand Prix until 2006 and there were short-lived hopes of a quick return provided changes to the circuit were made, but nothing ever came to fruition. 

Potential return

Eight years later in June 2015, with Monza’s contract for the Italian Grand Prix running down, circuit bosses sensed an opportunity and were in talks for the venue to return. On July 18th 2016, the day had come, Imola was announced to return in 2017, F1 was to return to the iconic location… But not for long. In September that year, Monza agreed a new deal and hopes of a return to Imola faded once again. Officials took legal action against this decision questioning the legality of government funding awarded to Monza but eventually withdrew their case.

The pandemic provides fresh opportunity

It took another 3 and a half years for another opportunity to arise. In February last year, the track submitted an application to replace the Chinese Grand Prix which was in serious doubt with coronavirus sweeping the globe and the sporting calendar with it. 

Formula 1 was eventually put on hold as we all know, with the season restarting in Austria in July. That same month, the moment fans had been waiting for. Imola was confirmed to host the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on the weekend of the 1st November, named in honour of the region the circuit is situated in. In a break from the normal race weekend, it was held over just two days, with one practice session of 90 minutes on the Saturday before qualifying. Valtteri Bottas qualified on pole but as was so often the case on race day last year, Lewis Hamilton was the man to take the victory as Bottas suffered with damage from early in the race eventually finishing second. There was a famous podium for Daniel Ricciardo of Renault, his second of the season.

A second chance

Hamilton would go on to dominate the season, securing the title not long later in Turkey and with things set to return to normal in 2021, it looked like a short spell for Imola. However, with the Chinese Grand Prix scrapped again, and the Vietnam Grand Prix also removed, it opened two doors which the circuit gladly walked through. Portimao took the place of Vietnam, whilst Imola secured the place of China as the second race of the year. 

And that’s where we are now, the famous circuit of Imola is preparing to host the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for the second time. It has been a lengthy break since Lewis Hamilton won the season opener, but we can’t wait to get going and we hope you’re looking forward to it too! If you want to stay up to date with the latest news around next week’s race and everything F1 check out all the links in the description below, and I will catch you next time!

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