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A fateful San Marino Grand Prix changed the course of F1 history. May 1, 1994, became a national tragedy for Brazil when Ayrton Senna breathed his last at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit located in Imola, Italy. But the sudden loss of Formula 1’s brightest star pushed the entire world into a state of mourning. The sport of F1 which had fortunately not seen any deaths in 12 years saw two demises that weekend: Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger (a 2 GP old driver who died 24 hours before Senna). Extremely rich in history, the Imola circuit saw F1 mark its return in 2020 after its last race in 2006. This weekend, the great circus will be racing at the iconic circuit after a gap year. Here is a list of noteworthy things to look forward to at the circuit and from home.

Fans’ guide: What to do in Imola?

The biggest attraction is the home of Scuderia Ferrari, i.e. Maranello. A slight detour can take you to the temple of Prancing Horse, where F1 history is molded every day. The Italian Factory Motor Tour organizes the Ferrari Factory tour and the Ferrari Museum tour and offers the chance to visit the museum and the factory of the most famous “red myth” of Maranello. The Ferrari Museum is a dynamic exhibition that is constantly renewed over time.

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One can also visit the Ayrton Senna memorial located in the Acque Minerali Park. In 1997, a small statue of Senna was erected in front of the Tamburello curve where he crashed and lost his life. The corner has since become a place of pilgrimage for F1 fans from all over the world, with letters, flowers, and flags left in the Brazilian wonders’ memory.

Having said that, Italy is also known for its gastronomic wonders and a taste of trip won’t be complete without an actual taste of the region. With a flurry of outstanding restaurants located in Imola, a visitor is spoilt for choices. You can begin sampling the delights of legendary chef Massimo Bottura’s menu at Ristorante Cavallino (‘prancing horse’) in the heart of the Maranello (a place frequented by Enzo Ferrari himself in his heydays). There is also a sea of authentic places that feel like a chef’s kiss, namely Osteria de Piola, Pit Stop Restaurant, Gioelia Cremerie, or Sesto Senso.

While this sounds pretty indulgent for fans who are at the circuit to watch the race live, what can people watching the race from thousands of miles away expect? Take a look at the list of things that you can enjoy sitting in the comforts of your home.

What to expect from the 2024 Imola Grand Prix?

The F1 fans are still not over what transpired at Miami when a Grand Prix didn’t meet its usual fate seeing Max Verstappen as the winner. Lando Norris, aided by a safety car, won the race after 110 times of asking. The world rejoiced and as stated two sentences ago, fans are still not over it. Lando who has now had the taste of the top step of the podium will look forward to replicating the last weekend.

Secondly, there may be more fights for the top step leaving Red Bull in an uncomfortable spot. Last year, only one constructor other than Red Bull won one race. It was the most dominant reign ever witnessed in F1 as Max Verstappen (on occasion Sergio Perez) and Red Bull destroyed the competition. With the dream team still intact at Milton Keynes (at least for 2025), people expected to have an even mightier Dutch Lion. But with half a dozen races in, we have three race winners from three different constructors. F1, which was often touted as boring up until recently, has been jolted back to life with viewer interest back to the apex of motor sporting.

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Thirdly, there may be more fights overtaking and unexpected class drives as the drivers don’t have a lot of on-track experience. A big factor pointing towards that is, F1 not having raced in Imola for two years. To give you context, Nico Hulkenberg has raced there less than Zhou Guanyu and there are two drivers namely Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant who don’t have any track experience at all.  This interesting factoid may help bunch the field closer together.

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Fourthly, factoring one of the big three, an already strong Ferrari is said to bring blazing upgrades to Imola. It is understood that the chassis only will add three-tenths, additionally, the combined package will bring it up to a total of four-tenths. Ferrari has been Red Bull’s closest competitor (though with a very big margin) and this mammoth upgrade amidst Red Bull’s not-so-comfortable lead isn’t an ideal situation. While this may give Milton Keynes sleepless nights, the audience is in for a treat.

Next up, if you are someone who has been a fan of this sport for a decade or more, Sebastian Vettel is a name that will draw your attention. Vettel is all set to pay homage to the divine racer we lost at Imola. Vettel will get behind the wheel of Senna’s McLaren MP4/8 for a show run, the same car that Senna last won a race in at the end of 1993.

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And, F1 aspirant, Kimi Antonelli is waiting for his Super Licence green flag, and Oliver Bearman driving Haas in FP1.

There is a sea of events to look forward to. What are you most excited about?

Written by

Anmol

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Anmol is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a background in journalism and a passion for motorsports, she brings insightful perspectives to her readers. Anmol's interest in the sport was piqued after watching Lewis Hamilton's interview with David Letterman, and she has been a dedicated follower ever since.
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Edited by

Ariva Debnath