Ah … Variante Alta, Variante Bassa, che storia! Will F1 return to San Marino on Imola? We delve into the history of the circuit in case …
As you may have heard, “the” Corona virus is currently ravaging the world. Because the undersigned nowadays pretends to have something of medical knowledge, I have to mention that it is actually “a Corona virus”. The new evolution can cause the COVID-19 disease and it will not make anyone happy. That is why the F1 Grand Prix is being kicked off in China. The F1 circus would rather not travel to a hotbed of disease and destruction. And that’s where San Marino comes in.
As we reported earlier, the lack of the Chinese GP creates a gaping hole on the F1 calendar. Certainly if the race in neighboring Vietnam is also canceled. In the whole of April there would be no F1 on the card in that case. Suppose there is also a Korenwolf come by in Zandvoort, then Liberty Media has its hands in its hair. This way you don’t keep the audience glued to the tube of course. Fortunately, San Marino wants the FIA and Liberty Media to lend a helping hand. The only thing the F1 circus has to do for this is to reset the navigation system at Piazza Ayrton Senna da Silva, 1, 40026 Imola BO, Italy. At that address it is Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari located.
You will have noticed that the address is indeed in Italy. Just because Italy already has a Grand Prix at Monza, the race at Imola was attributed to nearby San Marino. The last time an F1 race took place on the historic track was in 2006. To the delight of the ever-crazy Tifosi, Shuey won the race in the Ferrari at the time. For Shuey it was his seventh victory on the circuit.
However, Imola is best known to F1 fans for its fateful F1 race of 1994. After F1 had been protected from fatal accidents for many years, the weekend of the race went horribly wrong that year. Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna died after heavy blows. The unpleasant images will still be on the retina because of the documentary Senna, where also the image above this message comes from.
Less familiar but no less tragic was the race at Imola in 1982. Indirectly, it was the prelude to the deadly crash of mega hero Gilles Villeneuve, a race later at Zolder. Gilles, who was faster than champion and teammate Jody Scheckter in 1979 but faithfully accepted his role as second, thought that 1982 was his year to take credit. The Ferrari was finally good again and Gilles’ mattie Didier Pironi the fresh second man of the Scuderia. At least, that’s what Gilles thought.
Pironi himself apparently had some other thoughts about that, as it turned out at the end of the race at Imola. For a long time, the Ferraris fought a duel at the head of the field, overtaking each other several times. For the show, Villeneuve thought. He assumed that Pironi would guide him past the end of the race as agreed. You guessed it: the latter did not happen. Imola’s betrayal was a fact.
The incident was still haunting Gilles’ mind at the next race in Zolder. Pironi had set the fastest time in the training and the Belgian rain was dripping more and more enthusiastically on the asphalt. Villeneuve, however, had the plague in his body and had to trumpet his new enemy. He clapped the drops on the slow-moving Jochen Mass. As a result, the Ferrari was launched and Gilles had no chance.
As if that were not bad enough, the events on Imola continued for a few years until a painful apotheosis in 1987. A painful apotheosis with a careful silver lining by the way, but we will come to that. For now we are still in 1982 and Pironi suddenly got what he wanted in Imola: the number one status at Ferrari. It is of course squeezing in his head on all sides, but anyway he is suddenly towering favorite for the title. It goes wrong in Hockenheim, however, in an almost narrowly similar way to Villeneuve. Pironi also crashes on a slower car and is launched. He survives the crash, but his legs are almost literally in a thousand pieces. End of season, end of title chances, end of F1 career.
Because yes, Pironi tries to return to F1 after a long rehab. He tests for AGS and Ligier. Mechanics must literally hoist him into the car. Didier knows soon enough. He is still pretty fast, but experiences such hellish pains that he can be lifted out of the car again and his racing helmet hangs on the willows. At least, his car racing helmet.
Didier shifts his Need for Speed to the boat racing. Popular in those days and perhaps even more dangerous than car racing. Some have doubts about Didier’s motivation for danger and spectacle. Is it inspired by Imola’s ghost that still haunts him? Anyway, it goes horribly wrong in 1987. Pironi is the haunt of the past, haunted by the past Colibri 4, the boat with which he participates in a boat race at the Isle of Wight, down. Unfortunately, a wave comes by and the boat flies over. Pironi and two other passengers do not survive the accident.
Yep, a bit heavy so all in all. But luckily there was that silver edge right? Indeed. After Pironi’s accident, it appears that Pironi’s girlfriend is pregnant. It is even a twin, two boys. When they are born, they get two well-known names: Gilles and Didier. Gilles now works as a techie for Mercedes F1 team. Hopefully that’s a little less dangerous than racing.
Anyway, Is it a good idea to have Imola host another F1 race despite this fierce history? Or would you prefer to see another job on the calendar? Let us know in the comments!
@reactive: just don’t say anything