It's time for the fourth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, the Made in Italy e dell' Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, which takes place at Imola's Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. This will be the first time the new Sprint format is used, with a lot more points on offer on Saturday than was the case last year. This year, the winner of the 100 kilometre race picks up eight points, five more than the three on offer last year, while points are now allocated to the top eight, rather than just the top three as in 2021. Another change is that the record books will show that pole position goes to the fastest driver in Friday's qualifying, rather than to the winner of the Sprint. Saturday's race will still decide the grid order for the main event on Sunday, but the winner on Saturday will not be defined as the pole-man, unless he was also fastest in Friday qualifying.
Sprint format weekends are run to a much tighter schedule than a normal Grand Prix, with less time to set up the cars. On Friday, engineers and drivers will just have a one hour session from 13.30 to 14.30 CET, before what is normally FP2 is replaced by qualifying at 17.00 to decide the grid for the Sprint, which starts at 16.30 on Saturday. However, before that there's a final free practice hour, starting at 12.30, allowing teams some more race preparation time. The Grand Prix starts on Sunday at 15 and, for the second year running, it goes by the name of the Made in Italy e dell' Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
The Imola circuit remains unchanged and calls for a maximum downforce set-up, even if the track's current configuration has several full throttle sections, from the exit of Rivazza-2 all the way to the Tamburello chicane, as the Variante Bassa chicane is no longer there to slow things down. The only DRS detection zone, the point at which, if the gap between two cars is less than one second, the rear wing on the following car can open, is located before Rivazza 1. The race runs over 63 laps of the 4.909 kilometre track, for a total distance of 309.049 kilometres. That makes it the second longest race of the season, after the 309.69 km of the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard.
This is the third consecutive year that Imola is on the calendar, following a gap of many years. This year will be the first time that spectators will be back, packing out the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, after anti-Covid measures meant the race had to be run behind closed doors in 2020 and 2021. Therefore, after 16 years the wait is over and we cannot wait to see the fans back in the stands with Ferrari red as the dominant colour.
Three questions to...
The histories of Imola and Ferrari are inexorably linked. Why is the Made in Italy e dell' Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix more than just a home race for the Scuderia?
Alessandra Naldi, Head of Corporate & Sports Events: "Because the red thread that links Imola and Maranello runs the length of Emilia-Romagna, a region in which cars are a religion. Ferrari was born here in a part of the world where the most beautiful cars are made. So the link between Imola and the Maranello marque is an emotional one. The depth of support it gets here is the essence of the feelings of those who grew up in the area and those who come here from all over the world to share the energy, the cheering and the passion. Although it's a real race track, with changes of gradient and corners that provide the fans with thrills and excitement, it actually winds its way in between greenery and houses on the edge of town, which means their balconies become high-end viewing areas from which to watch the show and they are packed out during all the sessions. Then there's the noise that spreads through the streets of Imola. I was born and raised in this small town and I can remember from an early age how much the sound of the cars echoing around it made me shiver. The spectators here are very demanding and passionate: they are impatient to see the Ferraris and the other cars racing on such a demanding track."
We are racing in Imola for the third time in three years, but this year is the first time that the crowds have been allowed in. What do you expect to see in the grandstands and the general viewing areas?
AN: "Racing at Imola once again with our fans there to support us will be like having friends round at home after a long absence. We are at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit, so it's special and also a responsibility. I am expecting a unique show and more than a race, the Imola GP will be almost a ritual, beautiful and colourful with tens of thousands of fans. I was born in Imola and I'd say you can feel a very powerful energy in the air. The enthusiasm and passion are such that, in the past, it has often led to the fans pouring onto the track and then there's the roar of the crowd at Rivazza, loud enough to be heard above the noise of the engines. Not far from there is the house where I grew up and where my parents still live. So I have experienced this show since I was a little kid and rediscovering it will be unbelievably exciting!"
The Imola Paddock Club will feature the launch of the new Ferrari Formula 1 Club. What does it offer the guests?
AN: "The new hospitality, right above the Scuderia Ferrari garage, will be an environment in which our partners and customers can experience an unforgettable weekend. Imola is the first event at which we are rolling out this new concept, which will also be used at other rounds on the calendar. It will offer great views of the excitement of the race start and pit stops, the packed grandstands on the opposite side of the track and it's the perfect setting to show off the new cutting edge and futuristic style of our lounge. The design takes cues from the characteristics and colour of the F1-75, with a light show and LED screens showing special content created especially for our guests. Here they can also see live interviews with our drivers and key players from the world of racing, to explain what goes on behind the scenes, helping guests to get a good understanding of our sport. Guests will also be able to ask questions and enjoy discovering all the details and subtleties of this fascinating world. Using race headphones, they will able to listen to radio communications between our drivers and the engineers during the sessions, for a truly immersive experience. The guests also get the chance to go down into the paddock, to see the Scuderia at close quarters over the course of the race weekend and spend time in the pit lane in front of the Ferrari garage from where they can watch the cars being prepared and the team practicing pit stops. It will be a truly electrifying weekend!"
Ferrari at Imola
GP entered 29
Debut 1980, Italian GP (J. Scheckter 8th; G. Villeneuve ret.)
Wins 8 (27.59%)
Pole positions 6 (20.69%)
Fastest laps 10 (34.48%)
Total podiums 24 (27.59%)
Made in Italy e dell' Emilia-Romagna GP - Facts & Figures
4. The commercial sectors in which the Made in Italy brand is preeminent on the world stage. Known as "The four As" because in Italian they are abbigliamento, alimentare, arredamento, automazione (clothing, food, furniture, automation), the Made In Italy brands have been protected with specific rules since 1967 and according to latest estimates, are worth over 2,100 billion euros.
21. The average number of overtaking moves in World Championship races held at Imola. When Nigel Mansell (Williams) won in 1987, there were no fewer than 47 changes of position, while the most enjoyably dull from a Ferrari viewpoint was the 2006 edition, won by Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari 248 F1: there was just the one pass, when Tiago Monteiro overtook Takuma Sato on lap 20 to take 18th place.
127. "Made in Italy's" role in Formula 1. The category has seen 83 Italian drivers, 24 constructors, 16 engine suppliers and one tyre manufacturer take part in at least one Grand Prix. F1 races have been held at four Italian circuits, Monza, Imola, Ferrari-owned Mugello and Pescara.
317. The length of the current Via Emilia in kilometres, stretching from Rimini to San Giuliano Milanese, while also passing through Imola. It takes its name from the ancient Via Aemilia built in 189 AD by military commander Marco Emilio Lepido and is the main artery through the Emilia-Romagna region, which took its name partly from it. It is also known as the Strada Stradale 9 (SS9) and parallel to it run the Autostrada A1 and the Milan-Bergamo railway, both the old and the highspeed ones, and the A14 Autostrada Adriatica which runs from Bologna through Romagna, crossing the entire region before heading all the way to Puglia.
1963. The year of the first Formula 1 race to be held at Imola. The non-championship event was won by Jim Clark in a Lotus. Scuderia Ferrari did not take part and the best performance for an Italian came from Carlo Maria Abate, fifth in a Scuderia Centro Sud Cooper. 16 years later, Imola next hosted another non-championship Formula 1 race, the Dino Ferrari Grand Prix. Niki Lauda won in a Brabham-Alfa Romeo and Jody Scheckter was third in a Ferrari 312 T4. In 1980, the track hosted the championship Italian Grand Prix and as from the next year, was a fixture on the calendar until 2006, as the San Marino Grand Prix. In 2020 it ran as the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, before switching to its current name the following year.
At Ferrari 75 years ago
The race debut at the Piacenza circuit was fast approaching: Enzo Ferrari had picked the drivers to represent the Scuderia, driving the Ferrari 125Ss. The two were both from Piedmont; Franco Cortese and Emilio Giuseppe "Nino" Farina. Cortese began his career at the wheel of an Itala in 1926, racing with Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Bugatti. In 1938, he won the Italian Sports Car Championship and in 1937, established the Scuderia Ambrosiana with Giovanni Lurani, Luigi Villoresi and Eugenio Minetti. He was the first to test the 125 S. Farina was a well established driver, having first raced in 1925 and he drove for Maserati in the Thirties. In 1936, he got the call from Enzo Ferrari to drive the Scuderia's Alfa Romeos and came second in the Mille Miglia, before taking his first win on 25 April 1937 in the Naples Grand Prix at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 12C. In 1939, again with the Italian marque, he won the Swiss Grand Prix. After the war, "Nino" resumed racing and in 1946 won the Grand Prix of Nations in an Alfa Romeo 158.
Check out our Thursday gallery from Imola, here.