Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari: Imola Circuit

Racing at Imola
Racing at Imola (PHOTOMDP /

Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, also referred to as Imola for its location, is another iconic racetrack that sadly isn’t on the main billing for Formula 1 any more. It’s seen some amazing races over the years, but it’s probably best known for its affiliation with Ferrari and the fact it’s named after Ferrari’s founder, Enzo Ferrari.

Located just 80km away from the Ferrari factory and just outside of Bologna, the track played host to the San Marino Grand Prix. It was named this due to the fact that Italy hosted tow Grand Prix’s for many years, so this differentiated between the two, being named after a nearby state. The race was often run in the height of the Italian summer, which mean that temperatures were often hot, and the chance of rain was fairly low. 


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Imola 4.909km 17 60,000 1953

Circuit Layout

Imola Circuit
Imola Circuit (Marpol /

The 4.9km track is one of the most iconic layouts in F1. The track was built for speed and for many was regarded as the fastest in F1 rotation. Whilst this proved to be exciting for both drivers and fans, ultimately it was this speed that led to the demise of the Imola track. 

There have been several designs of the track that have taken place over the years since they opened their doors in 1973. The length has remained pretty much the same throughout the years, but a few little inclusions that have slowed cars up somewhat have been addressed. 

The track is one of few that actually run in an anti-clockwise direction. It’s worth noting as this offers a strain to drivers that they aren’t necessarily used to. You see, most drivers are used to taking right handed corners as these make up the layout for most grand prix tracks. The g Force of these corners then pushes their heads to the left. But, a left hander does the opposite, meaning the strain is different to what they are used to and often much harder on the body throughout. 

The pit straight sends the driver into a tight S bend included for corners 2, 3 and 4. The bend leaves a run right up to Variante Villeneuve, which are corners 5 and 6, before a sweeping hairpin in turn 7. Turn 8 has been amended to offer a tighter left hander than first designed. 

The next stern test for drivers is negotiating the tight chicane at turns 11 and 12. They are very slow corners and require great strain on the cars due to their low speeds from a flat out acceleration phase from the straight leading to this corner.

Turns 13, 14 and 15 may look fairly simple, but this is one of the most important parts of the track. A good run through here can cause an almost slingshot effect to cars to send them down the pit straight. The removal of the corner at Variante Bassa means that the pit straight has been lengthen and whilst officially two corners are apparent, drivers tend to take this pretty much flat out. 

Other Races at Imola

Formula 3 Racing at Imola in 2014
Formula 3 Racing at Imola in 2014 (PHOTOMDP /

Whilst the track has always hosted other motor sport events, it’s always been heavily focussed around F1, especially with the links to Ferrari. That being said, races within the Superbike World championship, World Touring Car Championship and Le Mans Series have all taken place at some point in time. 


Imola Circuit Reconstruction
2007 Reconstruction (KaragouniS /

The original layout of the Imola circuit was a frighteningly fast design. It had no chicanes throughout the straights, which meant it was run pretty much flat out for large chunks of the race. This was the design right from when they opened their doors in 1953 to the revised layout in 1973, designed to slow cars up a little in the midst of safety corners with the track. 

Italian Grand Prix

The first few races that were held at the track were actually motorcycle races and it wasn’t until 1963 that it hosted the Formula 1 racing it had long craved for, albeit as a non-championship race. 

The track didn’t get the nod to host a full championship race until 1980, where it was awarded the Italian Grand Prix. It was the first time that Monza hadn’t held the event and wasn’t initially met with particular joy with Italian racing fans, especially given that it was the 50th anniversary of the Italian Grand Prix. Nonetheless, the success of the race almost forced the heads of Formula 1’s hand and the following year in 1981 they were awarded a new Grand Prix fixture, in the form of the San Marino Grand Prix. 

Safety Concerns

Safety concerns over the track and the death of sporting great Ayrton Senna prompted changes to be made. The 1994 Grand Prix will always be remembered for this, but what people forget is that the weekend include several other accidents including the death of Austrian, Roland Ratzenburger. 

Changes were immediately made following the crashes and as such, safety was massively improved. But, the Grand Prix was to be removed from the F1 season in 2007, as a lack of funding and a deterioration of the track including safety concerns were added to the reasoning.

Since then a number of changes and improvements have been made to Imola. The grand stands and pit lanes have all seen huge overhauls and they’ve been trying desperately hard to get the F1 back to the circuit. It was thought that they were going to be able to return as the Italian Grand Prix in 2017, but in the end, lost out to Monza, who won the bidding war.