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Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari

GrandPrix Circuit San Marino 2006.png
Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari
Location 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Events Formula One; SBK; GP2; WTCC; Italian GT
Length km 4.933
Length mi 3.065
Turns 17
Record time 1'19.664
Record driver Michael Schumacher
Record team Ferrari
Record year 2004


The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari is a racing circuit near the Italian town of Imola, 40 Km east of Bologna and 80 Km east of the Ferrari factory in Maranello.

The circuit is named after late Ferrari's founder Enzo and his son Dino who had died in the 1950s. Before Enzo Ferrari's death in 1988, it was called 'Autodromo Dino Ferrari'.

It is the venue for the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix (usually, two Grands Prix are held in Italy every year, so the race held at Imola is 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 minority of non-oval circuits which go in an anti-clockwise direction. With Istanbul Racing Circuit a third anti-clockwise track was added in 2005 to the well-known Autódromo José Carlos Pace at Interlagos.

Built in the 1950's, Imola was popular with drivers due to its fast, flowing layout. In 1973 and 1974 two chicanes were added in order to slow the cars. A third chicane was added in 1981. However, 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 without serious injury.

However, 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 was killed instantly. The nightmare continued the next day, when the legendary 3-time World Champion Ayrton Senna mysteriously 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, pierced Senna's helmet and killed him. In two unrelated incidents, several spectators and mechanics were also injured during the event.

Diagram showing the differences between the 1994 and 2006 circuit layouts

In response to the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Senna, revisions were 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 attempt to retain some of the quickness and character of the old circuit, the arduous chicane at Acqui Minerali 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.Template:Fact

Some are also critical of the circuit's deteriorating facilities, and there has been talk of the San Marino Grand Prix being taken off the Formula One calendar. However, the San Marino Grand Prix looks set to keep its place on the Formula One calendar in the short-term at least, and Imola will be used as a Formula One venue until at least 2009.Template:Fact

Another modification made to the Imola track is that of the famous Varianta Alta which is situated at the top of the hill leading down to Rivazza which 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. However, before the 2006 Grand Prix, the kerbs were lowered considerably and the turn itself was tightened to reduce speeds and hopefully reduce the amount of accidents at the chicane.

Following an FIA decision in August 2006, Imola will not host a Grand Prix in 2007, as the San Marino race was removed from the calendar.[1] SAGIS, the company that owns the circuit, claims that the race will 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 are completed in time for the race. [2]

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