| Autodromo Internazionale "Enzo e Dino Ferrari"|
|Location||Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy|
|Active from||N/A - present|
|Major events||WTCC, San Marino Grand Prix|
|Length||3.050 mi (4.909 km)|
|Lap record||1:20.411 ( Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004, Formula One)|
The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari is an auto racing circuit near the Italian town of Imola, 40 kilometres (24.9 mi) east of Bologna and 80 kilometres (49.7 mi) east of the Ferrari factory in Maranello.
It was the venue for the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix (for many years two Grands Prix were held in Italy every year, so the race held at Imola was named after the nearby state) and it also hosted the 1980 edition of the Italian Grand Prix, which usually takes place in Monza. When Formula One visits Imola, it is seen as the 'home circuit' of Ferrari and masses of tifosi (Ferrari supporters) come out to support the local team.
Imola, as it is colloquially known, is one of the few major international circuits to run in an anti-clockwise direction. (Istanbul Racing Circuit, Singapore's Marina Bay, Autódromo José Carlos Pace at Interlagos, Brazil, and the Yas Marina Circuit, for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are other counter-clockwise circuits used recently by Formula One.)
Despite the addition of the chicanes, the circuit was subject to constant safety concerns, mostly regarding the flat-out Tamburello corner, which was very bumpy and had dangerously little room between the track and a concrete wall which protects a creek that runs behind it. In 1987, Nelson Piquet had an accident there during practice and missed the race due to injury. In the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix, Gerhard Berger crashed his Ferrari at Tamburello after a front wing failure. The car caught fire after the heavy impact, which in fact split the monocoque, but thanks to the quick work of the firefighters and medical personnel Berger survived and missed only one race (the 1989 Monaco Grand Prix) because of burns on his hands. Michele Alboreto also had a fiery accident at the Tamburello corner testing his Footwork Arrows at the circuit in 1991, but also escaped any injury whatsoever. Riccardo Patrese also had an accident at the Tamburello corner in 1992 while testing for the Williams team.
In the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, the dangers of the Imola circuit, and of Formula One in general, became tragically apparent. During Friday practice Rubens Barrichello was launched over a kerb, and into the top of a tyre barrier, flipping the car and knocking the Brazilian unconscious. He was not seriously injured. During Saturday qualifying Austrian Roland Ratzenberger crashed head-on into a wall at the Villeneuve corner after a front wing failure, and according to autopsy results found by the Italian authorities, was killed instantaneously. The nightmare continued the next day, when the legendary 3-time World Champion Ayrton Senna went straight on at the Tamburello corner on Lap 7. He may not have been badly injured by the impact with the wall itself, but a suspension piece broke off in the accident, and the front-right wheel was catapulted at an immense speed onto Senna's helmet and killed him. In two unrelated incidents, several spectators and mechanics were also injured during the event.
The circuit continued to host Grands Prix, but revisions were immediately made in an attempt to make the circuit safer. The flat-out Tamburello corner was reduced to a 4th gear left-right sweeper, and a gravel trap was added to the limited space on the outside of the corner. Villeneuve corner, previously an innocuous 6th gear right-hander into Tosa, was made a complementary 4th gear sweeper, also with a gravel trap on the outside of the corner. In an attempt to retain some of the quickness and character of the old circuit, the arduous chicane at Acqua Minerale was eliminated, as was the corner at which Barrichello crashed. Many say that the new circuit configuration is not as good as it used to be as a result of the new chicanes at Tamburello and Villeneuve.
Some are also critical of the circuit's deteriorating facilities, and there had long been talk of the San Marino Grand Prix being taken off the Formula One calendar. In 2007 it was not on the Formula One calendar.
Another modification made to the Imola track is that of the famous Variante Alta which is situated at the top of the hill leading down to Rivazza and has the hardest braking point on the lap. The Variante Alta, formerly a high-kerbed chicane, was hit quite hard by the drivers which caused damage to the cars and occasionally was the site of quite a few accidents. Before the 2006 Grand Prix, the kerbs were lowered considerably and the turn itself was tightened to reduce speeds and hopefully reduce the number of accidents at the chicane.
Following an FIA decision in August 2006, Imola did not host a Grand Prix in 2007, because the race was removed from the calendar. SAGIS, the company that owns the circuit, hoped that the race would be reinstated at the October 2006 meeting of the FIA World Motorsport Council and scheduled for the weekend of April 29, 2007, provided that renovations to the facility were completed in time for the race, but the reinstatement was denied.
The circuit has undergone serious revisions to the pitlane, pit garages and the final corners. The final left-right chicane has been removed, thus making the run from Rivazza 2 to the first Tamburello chicane totally flat-out, much like the circuit in its original fast-flowing days. The pitlane has been extended and revamped - and the old pit garages and paddock have been knocked down and a completely rebuilt. The circuit hopes to rejoin the F1 calendar within the next few seasons. The reconstruction has been designed by German track architect Hermann Tilke.
In June 2008, with most of the reconstruction work done, FIA gave the track "1T" rating, meaning that official F1 test can be held there. But still the track needs the "1" homologation to again host a Formula One race. The track also hosted the 2008 WTCC Race of Europe, on September 21, 2008.
- ↑ BBC (2006-02-17). "Circuit Guide - Imola". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/circuit_guide/4244433.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ The Guardian (2003-03-03). "Imola, San Marino". London. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2003/mar/03/formulaone3. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- ↑ "San Marino loses Grand Prix race". news.bbc.co.uk. 29 August 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/5294664.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- ↑ "Imola hopes to get back on 2007 calendar". f1.gpupdate.net. 30 August 2006. http://f1.gpupdate.net/en/news/2006/08/30/imola-hopes-to-get-back-on-2007-calendar/. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- ↑ "Imola receives '1T' FIA rating". en.f1-live.com. 30 August 2006. http://en.f1-live.com/f1/en/headlines/news/detail/080623094510.shtml. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
- Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari
- Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari History and Statistics
- Info from BBC's circuit guide
- Track info from race-game.org
- Satellite picture by Google Maps
- Re-Opening ceremony in may 2008 (article in Italian)
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