George Russell, Williams, Imola, 2020

“We need to come to more tracks like this”: Drivers thrilled by F1’s Imola return

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s return to Imola for the first time since 2006 was widely praised by drivers following the first day of running at the circuit.

Valtteri Bottas, who took pole position for today’s race, had not previously raced at the track which once held the San Marino Grand Prix.

“I didn’t have much experience of this track but once we got down to the qualifying session and the laps keep getting faster and faster, you really start to appreciate this track more and more,” he said.

“Towards the end of qualifying when you are flat-out on this track it’s really beautiful and enjoyable to drive. A proper old school track and that’s what we all like.”

Daniel Ricciardo, who was also pleased with his qualifying effort after taking fifth on the grid, said it was “really fun” to drive at Imola for the first time, despite the limited running in the compressed, two-day event.

“I’ve never competed around here so to try and learn everything in a few hours made it probably even more fun. It was really cool. I’m actually still buzzing from it.

“The first chicane is really cool. I think it actually sets the tone for the lap, if you nail that. In Q3, I went nearly two tenths quicker in the first chicane than I had all weekend.

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“Even the chicane at turn 14/15 [Variante Alta], the slow speed chicane, it’s got kerbs that you can attack and that’s fun. You can really muscle the car and you see even some guys taking the bigger yellow parts of the kerbs and sacrificing a bit of a headache for a shorter track. So I really loved it all.

“And Piratella at the top of the hill, that’s cool. It’s really nice because it’s banked. It kind of cambers in and then drops downhill and it’s got a lot of grip. So that one’s nice.

“Then you go into Acqua Minerale – good old ‘sparkling water’. It’s honestly all fine. And I don’t want to just say it because I’m riding off a good qualifying. Regardless of result, it’s a really good circuit.”

The track is largely bordered by grass and gravel, with barriers in closed proximity in several places. George Russell said it is rewarding to drive on a track where mistakes have consequences.

“It was a proper thrill out there,” said the Williams driver. “We need to come to more tracks like this because it’s just so exhilarating for the driver pushing the car right to the limit.

“Knowing you’ll be in the gravel or in the wall if you make one little error is mega.”

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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on ““We need to come to more tracks like this”: Drivers thrilled by F1’s Imola return”

  1. I am sure it’s great for the drivers and it’s even good for all of the fans. Like I’d said before, something positive came out of Covid-19 as otherwise, Formula 1 would’ve never gone to places like Mugello, Portimao or even the outer circuit at Bahrain or return to tracks like Nurburgring, Imola and Turkey.

    I know that economic benefit is the key to satisfy the shareholders but I just wish and hope that the sport continues to return to these tracks every once in a while to mix things up and keep these circuits visible to the world.

    1. The thing is, the new tracks could be as good as these but they insist of the Tilke design office to design them, with their established practice of long straight and heavy breaking, and cookie cutter constant radius turns that only have one racing line through them. We saw at Portugal (not designed by Tilke by the way) that having alternative lines through corners can lead to excellent racing, preferably without DRS (which was not needed, again as we saw last week).
      I’m afraid it doesn’t matter what we write on here though, I’ve been writing similar things for years wasting my time and venting my frustration at a multitude of daft things such as too long DRS zones, lack of static cameras, insistence on huge front wings, too long wheelbase etc. for years and nothing happens. The only good thing has been a return to wider cars with wide tyres to increase mechanical grip, but then they make the cars so long!

      Sorry, that’s a longer rant but the return to these tracks just highlights what many have been saying on F1F and Racefans for I dunno, over 10 years and then earlier than that elsewhere. Anyway, hope it’s a good race today.

  2. Ricciardo likes the chicanes? Of all things?

    Fun for the drivers, but not so for the fans. I very much doubt there will be many overtakes here, if at all, even with DRS.

    The only time I’ve been happy with this track is when it finally came off the F1 calendar.

    1. How long have you been watching F1?

    2. I can see how a track like this is much more fun for the drivers, especially if they remove another bit of run-off area’s in turns 9 and 15 for example and just have gravel there. It would make start making the difference between drivers who are able to use maximum of their cars without going over the limit.

      With regards to overtaking … let’s wait and see what it will be. However regardless of that, even though the track is not as wide as Portimao for example and thus will not allow for side by side racing like we saw there, I think that it is also the cars characteristics that are ruining the racing (as we all know).

      1. Although that is true, it is also true that the FIA are incompetant at making good uae of the tools they have at their disposal.

        In my opinion the drs zones at imola should have been everywhere, but NOT on the main staight. This would help cars follow better. Simple.

        Not to mention the uneccesarily long pitlane times that prevent contrary stategies. Althought this is understanble that they would like to reduce pit speeds, the length of the imola pitlane under speed limit was completly ridiculs

  3. It’s not sparking water, is it? it’s mineral water.

  4. It seems to me that drivers are ‘excited’ or ‘thrilled’ by every unusual track.

    There is a growing trend in all of F1 including TV commentators, to simply praise the bosses and their actions or stay dumb. How often have we heard a hard nosed appraisal of tracks, rule changes, FIA behaviour from the ‘establishment’? Not very often and then it is muted. From fans on the other hand, we get freewheeling commentary.

    Some real debate in the open from the insiders would be welcome, rather than cabals discussing things behind closed doors. It would be healthier.

  5. The calendar this year has been fantastic, but as good as some of these tracks are good for the drivers, they really are not that good for us viewers

  6. Imola is like racing at your grandma’s farm. I’s a beautiful environment and the track is interesting with cars racing by beautiful homes. Let’s just have F1 race there 22 times a year. It would seriously cut down on costs! :-)

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