Located just a few kilometres from the centre of Imola is the picturesque park land circuit known as the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Less than an hour’s drive from the Adriatic coast, the historic Emilia-Romagna region is known for its rolling hills, vineyards and delicious cuisine. The Imola circuit held its first motor race over 75 years ago. It all began after the end of the second World War, when a group of friends mapped out a course to race bikes.



The original layout featured no chicanes. With the pits alongside the Santerno river, the anticlockwise track ran flat-out around Tamburello to the Tosa hairpin, before looping back up the hill — peaking at Piratella — before another dip (where the modern-day Acque Minerali is located). It then rises to Variante Alta, before the two downhill left-hand Rivazza bends return competitors on to the pits straight once more.



A non-championship Formula 1 race was held at Imola in 1963 and was won by Jim Clark in his Lotus. A second non-points scoring race was held in 1979, but by this stage chicanes had been introduced to slow the cars down at Variante Alta, Acque Minerali and two more were situated before the pits straight at Variante Bassa.



The one and only time Monza hasn’t held the Italian Grand Prix was in 1980 when Imola hosted a World Championship F1 race for the first time. The popularity of the event led to the formation of the San Marino Grand Prix (named after the tiny Republic near Rimini) which enabled Italy to hold a second F1 race on the calendar every year until 2007. During the 1980s the track was virtually unchanged, but a number of big accidents at the Tamburello curve, including those of the tragic weekend 30 years ago, that claimed the lives of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, led to modifications.



The introduction of a five new apexes between Tamburello and Villeneuve slowed the circuit up significantly, but when Imola returned to the F1 schedule in 2020, the bends at Variante Bassa had been removed, bringing a touch of the old flavour to the track.



Imola in the spring is always popular with teams and drivers, especially as the first European race on the road features the happy return of the team’s motorhomes. If you’re spectating with the tifosi, one of the most popular locations on the track is the inside of Rivazza. On the opposite side, the bends back onto a neighbourhood of Imola. Residents fly flags from their balcony, which hang next to their washing drying in the warm Italian sunshine.



For this year there has been additional tweaks to the famous Imola circuit with asphalt run-off removed and reduced at Piratella and Acque Minerali — which will be less punishing for the drivers if they make a mistake and run wide — while a gravel trap has now been added on the exit of Gresini at Turn 15.