FIA has no concerns for Imola safety despite "a great number” of changes
FIA race director Michael Masi says he has “no concerns” over safety at the Imola circuit ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix despite the significant changes made at the legendary venue.
F1 returns to the track for the first time since 2006, and is the third race in Italy this season after Monza and Mugello on this year’s Covid-disrupted calendar.
The venue has naturally undergone considerable improvements since F1’s last visit, which have Masi impressed.
“There have been a great number of safety changes, particularly the upgrading of barriers all the way around the venue itself, together with the Imola circuit," revealed Masi.
“From the updates I’ve received, they’ve come along extremely well. There were some changes that had already been done and some further changes that were required.
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“There’s no concerns at all from a safety perspective that I have at the moment, having done a recent inspection there, with the planning of all the safety upgrades.”
The track, which held a permanent place on the calendar between 1980 and 2006, will forever be remembered for the tragic events of 1994, when both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives in separate accidents.
It has undergone major developments since then, with the addition of chicanes at the Tamburello and Villeneuve corners immediately after that event and, more recently, a new bypass for the Variante Bassa chicane and a new pitlane.
F1’s return this weekend will also see the first planned two-day grand prix programme and drivers will be given a double briefing, with one to sound out any concerns from last weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix on Friday and one to discuss any issues after the single practice session on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying.
It may sound simple, but scrapping the two Friday practice sessions to turn a grand prix weekend from three days into two has involved major modifications to F1’s core sporting code.
Masi added: “The sporting regulations have required a significant amount of change to facilitate a two-day event. It’s compressing everything. All of Friday’s normal activity has effectively been removed.
“It’s going to be interesting to see and something I am looking forward to. I know, having spoken to a number of the team managers, so are they. It’s something completely different.”
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