You can hear the roar of Formula 1 all the way to the train station in Imola. 2.3 kilometres on foot to the "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari". 100,000 people on the move. That is Formula 1 in Italy. A weekend of emotions...
One city is Formula 1. Imola, the legend among race tracks. When Corona paralysed the world, made travel to Asia impossible, Formula 1 switches to Imola in 2020. Back to the roots after 14 years. Still without an audience in 2021, but full of racing teams this year.
The forecast for the weekend is Ferrari-red. Plenty of sun, 20 degrees, sold out Corso and two beauties in new dark red. In the morning the weather changes: heavy rain and gusts up to 40 kmh. But that doesn't stop anyone.
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Formula 1 in Ferrari Land
Formula 1 in Italy is great racing cinema. 90 percent of the fans wear red. Red flags, red caps, red shirts. Rain jackets disguise the overall red appearance. For those who don't have one, Giuseppe (something over 70) is standing by the road. He does the business of the year. Although he only has pink on offer.
The pensioner sells disposable rain capes from a small bag. They normally cost one euro. Today he sells them for 10 euros. Demand determines the price. The wife is keeping a lookout, but the Guardia di Finanza (responsible for undeclared business) is not there.
Three days for 90 euros
The cheapest ticket costs 90 euros this weekend. Without a seat, but you can move around freely. Nothing is cheap. A panino with ham costs 10 euros, a portion of chips 6.50 euros. At the entrance, you can only take small drinks bottles without lids. Expert fans have a spare cap in their pocket.
The atmosphere around the track is vibrating. Despite mega rain. Before the race, hundreds of fans take a selfie with the Ayrton Senna statue. The Brazilian racing legend had an accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Imola. Flags from all over the world adorn his memorial today.
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Formula 1 in Italy is international and peaceful. Fans have even travelled from Australia and Mexico. Before the race, the Italian national anthem is played. The majority of the 100,000 sing along. Goosebumps and emozioni grandi. Then the pride of the Italian air force takes flight. The Frecce Tricolori spray green white red into the sky.
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Brief excitement at the gate directly opposite the pit lane. Dozens of fans had positioned themselves in and around the fence. Two minutes before the start of the race, a steward told them that they were not allowed to stand here. A lot of gesticulation, a brief outrage, then calm again. Formula 1 is peaceful. Almost half of the audience is female, many are there with children.
Formula 1 in Italy is family
Formula 1 connects. When a moderately athletic young woman has all the trouble she needs to get up a six-metre-high wall, dozens lend a hand. Half with good advice, the other as a jumping cloth just in case. From a distance it looks risky. But in the end she sits at the top and has the outstanding view...
...only surpassed by those who have climbed the safety wall in the Tamburello bend, now looking down on the track under the barbed wire. It doesn't look comfortable. But not one of them moves a millimetre. That, too, is Formula 1 in Italy.
"If you get caught in the barbed wire, you always have to go back and forth, just don't pull," one explains. You take care of yourself. And you stay like that for a good two hours, with a twisted foot. There is no pain when Ferrari is driving...
...at least not a physical one. That's how it is in Formula 1 in Italy. Then, shortly after the start, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz flies off the track. He suddenly comes out through a side gate at the track. Despite the crash, the fans cheer him, dozens of pats on the back, as if he had won.
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Conclusion: simply Wow!
A couple of laps before the end of the race, the second Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc loses his podium position. The end of the red dream in Imola. A brief mood of deprivation, but Formula 1 live is simply too impressive. Even for those who are not actually fans.
Conclusion of the weekend: Wow! A bit hard of hearing and exhausted. Emotionally and physically - 17 kilometres on foot on Sunday alone. Formula 1 in Italy is also worthwhile for non-Formula 1 fans.
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written by Annie Kayser, first published 29 April 2022, updated 10 September 2022
Cover photo: Imola, race track / LA BELLA VITA club (Kayser)
Source: Live report from on site (Imola, Italy)