Imola is a track that boasts an impressive history, dating back to its first race in 1953: it’s a circuit born in Italy’s motorsport heartland, with the help of Enzo Ferrari himself – there’s no bigger endorsement for a track in this country.
Still, Imola was never a track to sit on its laurels: as a venue, it had to adapt, evolve, and keep in tune with the times – in its layout and its identity.
“Auto-motovelodromo Prototipo CONI di Imola” was always a mouthful, and the colloquial name of Circuito del Castellaccio – after a nearby hill – became Autodromo Dino Ferrari in 1970, and finally Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in 1988, as it played host to events such as the Italian and San Marino Grands Prix and, more recently, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Many a time its corners were changed, with chicanes added, turns reprofiled, sections amended: Imola is a work of evolution, never-ending and always morphing, but without ever losing its soul.
Imola is Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell; it’s Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher. It’s obviously Ayrton Senna. It’ll be the champions of tomorrow…
Home Away From Home For Valtteri Bottas
For Alfa Romeo veteran Valtteri Bottas, the focus at Imola is very much on the here and now at the first of two home races for the Italian outfit.
“I am really looking forward to getting back on track in Imola: the team has been flat out working on the car and we are bringing new parts for our car here – hopefully they’ll help us to make an improvement and get back in the fight for points.
“It is also one of our two home races of the season, and to do well for ourselves and Alfa Romeo in front of our home crowd would be great.
“I have good memories from last year in Imola: it was our best result of 2022 and one that proved to be very important by the end of the season.
“It’s always great to race here, on an old-school track with so much history. We already showed some progress in Miami, where our single-lap pace was definitely better than in previous races, but there is still work to do. We must keep pushing forward, aiming to continue improving in both qualifying and the race,” said Bottas.
No Upgrades For Williams
Williams, currently last in the 2023 F1 Constructor’s Championship standings, have decided not to bring any upgrades to Imola due to the uncertain nature of the Alternative Tyre Allocation event.
“The sixth race of the season sees us return to Europe for a triple-header. We start in Italy, at the Imola circuit, before moving on to Monaco and Barcelona.
“As well as a return to Europe, this weekend sees the introduction of a new tyre format. This Alternative Tyre Allocation (“ATA”) event – which will be repeated at the Hungaroring later in the year – will see each team have only 11 sets of dry tyres available for the whole weekend. The 11 sets of tyres this weekend are a mix of Pirelli’s softest compounds.
“As well as fewer sets of dry tyres this weekend, we also have the introduction of a new Pirelli wet tyre, which will run without heating blankets. Given the weather forecast, this may become very relevant this weekend.
“With fewer sets of tyres available, we have opted not to bring significant new items to this event, and we will instead focus on the new event format, the new wet tyres and the challenge of using the softest compounds at Imola.
The Imola circuit is a fast and flowing circuit that runs anti-clockwise. There is a single DRS zone and whilst this is one of the longest DRS zones on the calendar, overtaking remains difficult at this circuit, which is a consideration for the race strategy,” said Dave Robson, Williams Head of Vehicle Performance.
Alpine Seeking Points
After failing to score points in Miami, both Alpine drivers are looking to make amends at Imola this weekend.
“I always love driving in Italy. I spent so many years racing there in the junior categories and I have great memories from those years. Imola is a historic, old-school track with a challenging layout that us drivers really enjoy. Qualifying is key given it presents quite a narrow circuit width compared to other modern circuits. It therefore makes overtaking more challenging, putting more emphasis on strategy to make up places. We didn’t score any points there last year so we’ll need to correct that this time around. We’ll need to use the practice sessions as best as we can to be in a good position ahead of Saturday afternoon and have the best chance for strong points on Sunday,” said Esteban Ocon.
We’re in the middle of a very busy period of the Formula 1 calendar so we must stay focused on our job and add some consistency to our performances. We’ve shown the potential of our package without putting together consecutive results to show for it, so I think by showing we can perform to a high level on a regular basis over the upcoming three races is important. First up, though, is Imola, a proper classic circuit. It’s a challenging track but also a lot of fun with some very fast and interesting corners. We must maximise practice on Friday and put ourselves in a good position to qualify and race well with the aim of scoring double points,” added Pierre Gasly.
Max Verstappen Enjoying Home Cooking
With the paddock finally returning to Europe for a triple-header, two-time World Champion Max Verstappen is thrilled to be able to enjoy some time at home between races.
‘I’m looking forward to racing in mainland Europe again, it’s been a while. Imola is a great track and I always enjoy driving there. The weather has obviously been really bad there though and I know it is something that is being closely monitored. I hope everyone is okay. It’s of course the start of a triple header, luckily the three races are based in Europe, so we still get some time at home between races, which helps with recovery and training. The Team in Milton Keynes and trackside have been working really hard and it’s paying off with the on-track performance. Let’s see what we can do this weekend.’
However, as it stands, severe flooding in the region could see the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix postponed or cancelled. This article will be updated accordingly as official announcements are made.