Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio Del Made In Italy E Dell’emilia Romagna 2021 (?!?) Preview

Before we talk about anything else, we need to address the elephant in the room. Why on earth does the race have such a complicated name? Genuinely, it’s official name is ‘Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio Del Made In Italy E Dell’emilia Romagna 2021’- instead of just the ‘Emilia Romagna Grand Prix’ like it was named in 2020. Imola is located in Italy, but as Monza holds the official title of ‘Italian Grand Prix’, the race at Imola has to be named differently. But surely, Formula 1 could have made it much simpler and actually called it the same as last year, instead of that Made in Italy nonsense.


And sorry to keep banging on about it, but why is the name mostly in Italian with the English ‘Made In Italy’ in the middle. I understand that the literal translation of ‘Fatto in Italia’ probably doesn’t translate well and make sense, but it begs the question; why bother at all? Just call it something different and make it much simpler. It’s a good thing the official hashtag is #EmiliaRomagnaGP and not #GranPremioDelMadeInItalyEDell’EmiliaRomagna; that would have been a nightmare for the social media admins.

Now onto the actual track. Imola has a long history with Formula 1, hosting 27 races from 1980 to 2006. Apart from one time in 1980 (where it replaced Monza as the official Italian GP), the race at Imola was named the San Marino GP- due to the fact it was close to the Republic of San Marino. It returned in 2020 after the pandemic forced the calendar to change and include more European races, as Covid restrictions meant it was easier to hold races in European countries. However, the race was no longer named the San Marino GP as locals were proud that F1 was back in Imola and wanted the name to reflect this. Hence, the race was named the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as Imola is located in that region. Simple as that (so why did they have to complicate it so much?!?)


Imola has hosted many iconic moments throughout F1’s history, including one that overshadows them all. F1’s darkest weekend, the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. This weekend involved 3 serious crashes, starting with Rubens Barrichello crashing heavily in Friday practice, injuring himself, several mechanics and several spectators. Thankfully Rubens only suffered a sprained wrist and a broken nose and was back racing at the next Grand Prix; the mechanics and spectators were also okay. Unfortunately, the other two drivers were not so lucky.


Roland Ratzenberger

During qualifying, Roland Ratzenberger suffered a front wing failure travelling at 195mph. He was airlifted to hospital and was pronounced dead later that evening. This was Formula 1’s first death since the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix and sent shockwaves throughout the paddock; Ayrton Senna was particularly shaken by his death and even considered not racing on the Sunday. Despite this, Ayrton raced on the Sunday starting on pole position. Sadly, this would also be the 3-times world champion’s last race.


Travelling at 190mph on lap 7 of the race, Senna’s car could not take the turn at Tamburello and continued in a straight line, hitting the barrier at 131mph. As was subsequently reported, Senna died instantly, with the car’s right front wheel dislodging on impact and striking the right frontal area of Senna’s helmet. This was the second death of the weekend (the first time since the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix) and brought about huge changes in the safety of Formula 1. In fact, there wasn’t a death in F1 for a further 20 years until Jules Bianchi’s fatal incident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. However, this weekend left many people around the world shocked, and Senna’s death particularly hit home in his native Brazil. Senna was given a state funeral and 500,000 people lined the streets to watch his coffin pass. If you haven’t already, watch the Senna documentary film to look at his incredible life, what he meant to people and an in depth look at that horrific 1994 San Marino Grand Prix: it’s one of my favourite films. 


Ayrton Senna Statue at Imola

Despite this weekend, Imola has hosted a further 13 races with a few circuit layout changes to reduce the speed of the cars in certain corners, including Tamburello. The circuit remains the same now, with a length of 4.909km, 19 corners and only 1 DRS activation zone. As the track is quite narrow, overtaking is never particularly easy and we didn’t see many overtakes in last year’s race. However, it can be done and Daniil Kyvat proved that at the end of the race last year. Still, just watching the cars blast round Imola is seriously impressive as it’s such a fast track and the cars still carry so much speed, even with the layout changes.


The race on Sunday should be a decent one. Hopefully Red Bull and Mercedes are evenly matched again, and we can see a great battle for the race win. I think it’s also a given that the midfield will be extremely close and we should see some good battles throughout the field; the cars look a bit easier to follow this year so maybe that will help the overtaking situation. There is also a 70% chance of rain (!) during the race and this always means that it’s a cracking race. We’ve been sold this dream many times before though, so I’m not getting my hopes up too much about the rain.


Okay, maybe that last sentence was a lie.

It’s felt like a lifetime since the first race in Bahrain and I can’t wait to see the cars hit the track again this weekend.