San Marino GP delivers again for F1 – Up/Down at Imola 2024


One of F1's most beautiful tracks showed us what we'll be missing when it loses its calendar slot – as is likely

2024 Emilia Romagna GP Imola

What a lovely track – let's get rid of it!

Clive Rose / Getty Images

The Emilia Romagna Whatever Grand Prix (it’s San Marino, OK?) came within 0.7sec of actually being interesting, but we can’t be too picky.

It might have been tricky for cars to pass, but back when Imola was previously a mainstay on the calendar in the 2000s overtakes might as well have been in minus numbers – just think about that next time Zhou Guanyu overtakes Logan Sargeant for 15th (if the Williams driver ever gets that high up).

Squeaky Bum Time came for Verstappen and all F1 fans came when Norris looked like he might nick it at the death, before the Dutchman just won yet another race as if nothing had happened.

Will the rest of the championship be so close?

Here’s what was going up and down at Il Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.


Goin’ Up

Classic tracks

Max Verstappen Red Bull 2024 Emilia Romagna GP Imola

Doha still edges this for atmosphere, we reckon

Getty Images

After the F1 season so far being almost 50% dross circuit-wise – submitting us all to the dreariness of Sakhir, Shanghai and Miami – Imola was sweet relief for the racing eyes.

Undulating, flowing, with lots of lovely gravel looking to welcome cars with open arms if they went beyond the outer limits. And Verstappen concurred.

“It’s just a fantastic track,” he said. “I wish we had 24 of those on the calendar. We go to a lot of ones that don’t really excite me, but this is unbelievable.

“There are a few old-school tracks that we have remaining on the calendar and that’s also what I fell in love with when I started racing and watching F1. We need more of those.”

We’d all prefer 24 Imolas to a whole host of Abu Dhabi-esque snore-a-dromes. Looks like Imola possibly won’t even make 2025 though, with Domenicali having his eye on cash elsewhere. Great.


Wise investment

Lance Stroll Aston Martin 2024 Emilia Romagna GP Imola

Money well spent

Aston Martin

Stroll got into the points for the first time in four races. Those Aston upgrades really must be working.


Vintage threads-bare

Eddie Irvine 2024 Monaco Historique

Irvine – the thrifty playboy

Monaco Historique

Full respect to Eddie Irvine for not even bothering to buy new overalls, just pulling out his old 2002 Jaguar garments for the Senna demonstration run at the Monaco Historique last week. Thrifty.


Vintage machinery

Sebastoan Vettel driving Ayrton Senna's McLaren MP4:8 2024 Emilia Romagna GP Imola

The good stuff

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Sebastian Vettel wasn’t hanging round when he brought out the McLaren MP4/8 for a blast round Imola – absolutely giving it some. You’ve got to love it.


Papaya rising

Lando Norris McLare 2024 Emilia Romagna GP Imola

Has the 2024 F1 season taken off?


Thank goodness McLaren is trying to make the season worth watching. Just pray Norris gets pole in Monaco so we can have 70 laps of Verstappen stewing on the Macca gearbox.


Goin’ Down


Logan Sargeant WIlliams 2024 Emilia Romagna GP Imola

Williams’s 2024 point-scorer

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Still no points for Williams. Apart from Sargeant’s two penalty points in China.


Steak out

Valtteri Bottas Sauber 2024 Emilia Romagna GP Imola

Push bike faster than Sauber – confirmed

Another miserable outing for Steak Bake F1. 15th for Zhou and 18th for Bottas. Team CEO Robo Seidl must be planning some pretty significant changes to get the team running on ‘Swiss Time’ in 2026.


What have I done?!

David Sanchez Alpine tech director 2024

Alpine’s latest victim


Awkward camera focuses on new Alpine tech director David Sanchez as, similar to Williams and Steak Pie GP, Team Enstone looked a bit hopeless in Italy.

What can they do to make grid’s ugliest car faster? Take more paint off?


Pre-war Partridge

George Russell 2024

Targa Partridge