The sport of Formula One has long taken the highest class of open-wheel racing to some of the globe’s fastest, most exciting tracks. Of those, few have left a lasting impression quite as much as Imola. Formally known as Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the Italian circuit has been one of the most unforgiving in F1’s history, taking the lives of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger on the same weekend back in May 1994. Although Imola remained on the calendar until 2007, it was replaced by the Belgian Grand Prix, but has this year made its long-awaited return. So, let’s take a look at the significance of this.
A Historic Track That’s Part of F1’s Identity
Imola’s impact on F1 will be felt for many, many years. Despite the action-packed racing that the track has previously delivered, the 1994 race weekend understandably dominates modern-day perceptions of the circuit. Crucially, the following years saw protection measures reach new heights, further enhancing the safety of the sport. Although it’s impossible for all risks to be eradicated fully from the sport, the recent steps forward show why an annual return to Imola should be on the cards.
According to a report by F1 Fansite, Andrea Corsini, who is the tourism chief in the Emilia-Romagna region, hopes to see the Italian-based circuit retain its place as a go-to track beyond 2020. From an identity standpoint, securing Imola for the long-term would see F1 recapture part of its past that made it what it is today. Regarding layout, with its fast, sweeping corners and technical bends, Imola is physically demanding and unpredictable, which can culminate in producing memorable races.
Modern-Day Excitement Proves Imola Still Has It
When the chequered flag emerged as Lewis Hamilton crossed the line to win the 2020 Imola Grand Prix, few could argue that the Italian-based circuit’s return after 14 years was anything but exciting. After securing a one-two following the retirement of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Imola once again became an integral piece of the sport’s history, with it being the track that Mercedes clinched the constructors’ championship for a record seventh consecutive year, as per CNN.
Despite starting from second and predicting a boring race, Hamilton played his role in highlighting the wonders of Imola. After falling behind Verstappen on Lap One, the Englishman capitalised on a Virtual Safety Car on Lap 29 to jump both his teammate and the Red Bull driver in the pitlane, who had pitted earlier on. As a result of his win, and as of November 2nd, Hamilton is 2/5 in the F1 betting to secure victory at the upcoming Turkish Grand Prix.
A Place in Spectator Hearts and On the Calendar
Whether or not Imola stays beyond 2020 remains to be seen. However, the track certainly didn’t harm its chances after it’s action-packed return. While the circuit’s past will, of course, live long in the memory, there’s new history to be made at Imola, and that can only be achieved through looking to future possibilities