The Imola track was built in 1950 when the Formula 1 championship was founded. The first tests on the new circuit took place in 1952, with the participation of, among others, F1 champion Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari 340 Sport. The circuit was inaugurated in 1953.
Motorbikes and touring cars were the first to race on the circuit. Imola waited until 1963 for its first Formula 1 race, but only in a non-championship race. Enzo e Dino Ferrari's circuit waited until 1980 to host its first official F1 event as a replacement for Monza. From 1981 to 2006, the event was run as the San Marino Grand Prix and returned to the championship in 2020 as the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna, a region of Italy.
Originally a very straight circuit, it was gradually given more artificial turns. However, it was still one of the most dangerous. The Tamburello corner was critical as it was very fast to enter and had an uneven surface. Nelson Piquet and Gerhard Berger were injured in accidents here.
In 1994, however, Imola witnessed one of the blackest weekends in Formula 1 history. Rubens Barrichello crashed on Friday but escaped with only minor injuries. On Saturday, Roland Ratzenberger lost his life in the Villeneuve corner. But the most terrible thing came on Sunday. It was at the Tamburello corner that the legendary Ayrton Senna died. The tragic balance was then completed by several minor injuries to spectators who were hit by debris after a collision at the start of the race.
The tragic 1994 race at Imola transformed the entire Formula 1 championship and the circuit itself. Tamburello and Villeneuve were redesigned into chicanes, and the escape zones were also improved. Later, the circuit disappeared from the calendar due to an outdated paddock and pitlane. The wait for the return of Formula One at Imola stretched until 2020. Now a contract has been signed for the race until 2025.
F1 is not the only big event Imola has ever hosted. It has also hosted the World Championship of Road Motorcycles, the World Championship of Superbikes and even the World Championship of Motocross. Nowadays, the European Le Mans Series is also held here.
HISTORY OF THE CIRCUIT IN IMOLA