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F1 Drivers Rally to Save Historic Imola Circuit

F1 Drivers Rally to Save Historic Imola Circuit

17/05/2024

F1 drivers cherish Imola for its rich history and challenge, fearing the loss of old-school circuits in favor of modern tracks.

30 years after the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, F1 returns this weekend to the scene of the tragedy, Imola.

The Emilia-Romagna circuit is steeped in history and legends, both dark and bright.

In any case, drivers feel the presence of F1 history at Imola… a circuit that could soon disappear from the calendar to make way for new events, like Madrid, for example.

“This is what we miss a bit in all the new circuits we go to – that feeling of being on an old-school track, feeling the history behind the circuits,” notes Carlos Sainz, thus criticizing the new circuits (such as Qatar, Miami, Las Vegas, etc.).

“I am happy that the calendar retains this kind of venues because I think it reminds us all of where we came from and why we all became fans of this sport. So, I am very excited to return to places like Imola or Monaco next week. I think there might be some work to do on some of these circuits to make them a bit better for the show, in terms of overtaking.”

“Imola is one of the top three circuits in the world where you can best feel the sensations of a Formula 1 car. Along with Suzuka and Zandvoort, it’s perhaps where you feel a Formula 1 car at its peak the most. And that’s what I love.”

Kevin Magnussen also prefers this type of circuits for pure driving.

“These types of circuits are a bit more intimidating than some of the newer circuits where you might as well be driving a simulator in terms of driving sensations. I love coming to these tracks.”

“We could work on the pit lane, make it shorter, to make pit stop times less significant – and thus make two-stop strategies viable. Also, today, the tires are not suited for racing and overheat when following a car. The cars have become harder to follow each other and are heavier. This could be resolved to make it easier to race here at Imola.”

Lando Norris, also at McLaren F1, calls for less bland and more challenging circuits. Old-school tracks like Imola, in other words.

“We want these circuits because they are more challenging for us as drivers. But generally, circuits like these are also a bit more difficult for overtaking. Sometimes, overtaking is better on other tracks. So, we need to find the right compromises.”

“We want more on-track battles. That’s why some of these old-school circuits are being dropped from the calendar, because the racing isn’t good enough, and they aren’t exciting enough. So, we need to improve certain aspects. Otherwise, eventually, we won’t have races here anymore.”

Gasly Pays Tribute to Senna, 30 Years On

At Alpine F1, Pierre Gasly loves Italy and especially the Imola circuit.

“It’s part of our sport’s DNA. This week, I saw all the history that happened on this circuit. There were some videos of Michael driving the Ferrari, winning, his lap from a few years ago. That’s how we all fell in love with this sport. When I was a kid, I remember seeing those guys racing here. And it’s one of the best circuits. The way you attack the curbs, the chicane is very iconic here. The history of this track is very impressive. And yes, I think it’s important for our sport to keep these circuits.”

For this weekend, Pierre Gasly is paying special tribute to Ayrton Senna: he will wear a suit and helmet in his memory. The Norman also recently drove Senna’s 1984 Toleman.

“I’ve always admired him since my childhood. Obviously, in France, I grew up hearing a lot about Alain Prost, who is the most successful French F1 driver of all time. And of course, Ayrton’s name has always been associated with Alain’s. I watched many documentaries, and it’s probably the most iconic rivalry in F1 history. I’ve always admired, I would say, his driving style, but also the person he was—the values, the way he cared for his community. And you know, he’s one of the greatest champions in our sport, and it was important to pay tribute to him, especially this year, 30 years on. It was important for me to honor one of the best of all time.”

And how was driving the Toleman, with a manual gearbox?

“I have to say it’s certainly easier nowadays. But it was a great exercise. It was the first time I had to drive with an H-pattern gearbox, and I won’t lie, in the first corner, I tried to downshift to second and ended up in fourth gear. Actually, I really loved it, simply because there is absolutely no electronics. There’s just the steering, three pedals, the brake, the accelerator, and the clutch. I felt like you focus solely on your line and your speed. There’s a lot less to manage than what we have today, with all the brake balance and differential settings, etc. It’s just very pure driving, similar to what it was in karting, but obviously with much more power.”

F1 Drivers Rally to Save Historic Imola Circuit

F1 Drivers Rally to Save Historic Imola Circuit F1 Drivers Rally to Save Historic Imola Circuit

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