Track Guide: How to master the Imola F1 circuit

Track Guide: How to master the Imola F1 circuit


We take you on a hot lap on the Italian track holding the F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix 2020.

Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix marks one of the darkest weekends in Formula 1 history. During qualifying sessions at Imola, Rubens Barrichello and Simtek pilot Roland Ratzenberger both lost control of their cars, with Barrichello suffering severe injuries and Ratzenberger losing his life after crashing straight into a wall at 300 kph. He should not be the last one. During the race, three-time world champion Ayrton Senna lost control of his Williams, hitting the wall with more than 200 kph and losing his life as well.

After the horrific accidents, significant changes were made to the track’s layout to improve safety. Despite this, Imola remains one of the most challenging and iconic fast-paced circuits in the world. It is also highly popular in esports racing and is playable on various games like iRacing, Assetto Corsa and RaceRoom. In our track guide, we highlight the most outstanding and difficult passages of the 4.9 kilometer-long Italian Autodromo.

The Imola layout
The Imola layout after the last changes were made in 2008. | Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

Turns 2,3 & 4 – Variante Tamburello

The chicane at Tamburello was added after the incidents of 1994. Before, cars would dash flat out through a long left-hander with almost no run-off area. Even after the changes, Tamburello is one of the most interesting spots on the circuit, especially after a race start. Cars have to slow down from maximum speed after the pit lane straight.

Variante Tamburello
Variante Tamburello. Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

Although the braking point is around the 150-meter board, drivers still pass through the combination at quite high speeds in fourth gear. Following the chicane is a small left kink which is taken at full throttle, leading to the second chicane of the track.

Turns 5 & 6 – Variante Villeneuve

The second corner combination of Imola is even faster than Tamburello. Villeneuve used to be a single sixth gear right-hander but was also reconstructed after the incidents of 1994. Just slightly touch the brakes around the 50-meter board as you enter the first turn and use a bit more braking force before sweeping to the right.

Variante Villeneuve
Variante Villeneuve. Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

Turn 7 – Tosa

Cars used to be on full throttle from the finish line until this point on the old Imola layout. Coming out of Villeneuve, speeds are not at maximum now. Still, drivers need to brake hard into the hairpin turn, shifting down to second gear. This corner is more dangerous than it looks because it goes uphill and it is easy to lose the rear in this section. A good exit is crucial as a long run up the hill is following.

Tosa. Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

Turns 9 & 10 – Acque Minerali

After a short lift in turn eight and a lot of full throttle on the straights, we arrive at Acque Minerali, a very tricky braking zone. The light downhill right-hander needs to be taken at full speed. However, it is important to get the car into a straight line as fast as possible to brake quite hard for the sharper turn ten which goes uphill. Make sure to use all the curb on the outside to carry as much speed into the next straight up the elevation.

Acque Minerali
Acque Minerali. Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

Turns 11 & 12 – Variante Alta

Alta is the third and last chicane on the anti-clockwise circuit. The tight right-left combination requires drivers to brake down into second gear and use a lot of curb. Depending on the height of the driver’s seat, it can be quite difficult to see the perfect braking point due to the chicane being on top of the hill.

Variante Alta
Variante Alta. Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

Turns 14 & 15 – Rivazza

This section needs to be practiced a lot because of two reasons: turn 14 features another challenging brake zone as cars approach while going downhill. The risk of locking up your tires is especially high here. Also, there is nothing more important on this circuit than getting a good exit on the second left hander which is turn 15.

Rivazza. Photo credit: Screenshot taken from iRacing

After this corner, you are back on the long pit straight. Carry as much speed as possible into the straight as this is the best overtaking possibility on the entire circuit.

Now that you know everything about the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, it is up to you to dominate the track.

What is your most important advice for racing at Imola? Are you a fan of the circuit? Tweet us your opinion at @overtake_gg!

Born and raised close to the Nürburgring.