Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
San Marino Grand Prix
The San Marino Grand Prix is a Formula One championship race which has been run at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in the small town of Imola, near the Apennine mountains in Italy, since 1981. It is called the San Marino Grand Prix because there is already an Italian Grand Prix, and the principality of San Marino is itself too small to host a grand prix. In 1980, the Imola track was used for the 51st edition of the Italian Grand Prix.
The area around Imola is home to several racing car manufacturers - namely Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. Following the Second World War, the town launched a program to try to improve the local economy. Four local motor racing enthusiasts proposed the construction of a new road linking existing public roads, which could be used by the local car manufacturers to test their prototypes. Construction began in March 1950. The first test run took place two years later when Enzo Ferrari sent a car to the track.
In April 1953, the first motorcycle races took place at Imola, and the first car race took place in June 1954. In April 1963, the first race with Formula One cars took place at Imola, as a non-championship event, won by Jim Clark for Lotus. A further non-championship event took place at Imola in 1979, which was won by Niki Lauda for Brabham-Alfa Romeo.
In 1980, the Italian Grand Prix was hosted at Imola, when the old track at Monza had fallen out of favour. It was won by Nelson Piquet for Brabham-Cosworth. The following year, the Italian Grand Prix was returned to Monza, and Imola was launched as the San Marino Grand Prix, named after the nearby republic of San Marino.
In 1994, there were three serious accidents at Imola. During Friday Practice, Rubens Barrichello crashed hard into the fence at the Variante Bassa in which he decelerated from 180 MPH to 0 in a microsecond and was knocked unconscious for a few minutes. There was also the death of Roland Ratzenberger in a qualifying session, and the death of Ayrton Senna during the race itself at the sharp Tamburello Corner. As a result, for the 1995 race, the Tamburello Corner was turned into a chicane. It also led to many changes being made to other circuits, and the sport as a whole, in an attempt to make it safer.
In recent years, constructors have complained about the poor quality of the facilities at Imola, and talk of dropping the San Marino Grand Prix from the Formula One championship continues, especially since there is another grand prix being held in Italy anyway. However, the San Marino Grand Prix looks safe for the time being, having been given a space on the provisional 2005 Formula One calendar.
Winners of the San Marino Grands Prix
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