There’s yet to be a Formula 1 season which has not featured a race in Italy. Four different Italian circuits have hosted a round of the World Championship since 1950. We take a look at every Italian circuit which F1 has visited.
Formula 1’s history is rich in Italian names, Italian manufacturers and Italian circuits. Drivers such as Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari were among the first to be crowned World Champion, while Ferrari have been a constant in Formula 1 almost since its inception.
Italy is the only country to have played host to over 100 World Championship Grands Prix, with those 100 races taking place across four different circuits, from the enduring Monza track to recently re-instated Imola and one-timers Pescara and Mugello.
Monza has hosted more World Championship races than any other circuit. The circuit, near Milan, has been present as host of the Italian Grand Prix in every season except 1980. The 2023 Italian Grand Prix will be the legendary venue’s 73rd appearance on the calendar.
In 2022, Monza celebrated its centenary, being only the third purpose-built racing circuit after Brooklands and Indianapolis. Over the past 100 years, the circuit has changed plenty – but signs of its history are still abundant around the track. The old banked track, on which F1 raced on a handful of occasions in 1955, 1956, 1960 and 1961, is still in situ.
Due to its placement on the calendar, Monza was the scene of many title-deciding races in Formula 1’s formative years. Despite crowning its last World Champion back in 1979, Monza retained its position at the top of the list of circuits which have hosted the most title deciders until 2022, when it was finally overtaken by the Suzuka circuit in Japan.
Formula 1 has had two Italian World Champions: Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari. Farina won the title at Monza in the sport’s inaugural season and remains the only driver to secure the title on home soil. Meanwhile, Ascari won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza twice, but would lose his life at the circuit in a sportscar crash in 1955. Ascari remained the driver to have led the most laps at Monza until his tally was finally overtaken by Lewis Hamilton in 2020.
In 1980, Monza was undergoing renovations which saw the Italian Grand Prix relocated to Imola. Imola’s call up came as a result of the fatal accident of Ronnie Peterson at Monza in 1978, after which the FIA demanded the track undergo improvements in the name of safety. The renovations had actually been completed in time for the race but F1 had already signed a contract with Imola meaning that – after a non-championship race in 1979 – the Imola circuit made its debut on the calendar.
While the Imola race was a success, the Italian Grand Prix returned to Monza in 1981. However, Imola remained on the calendar. As Italy already had a race, the Imola event was designated the title of ‘San Marino Grand Prix’. The small microstate of San Marino sits around 60km southeast of the track. The San Marino Grand Prix was held every year from 1981 to 2006, notably becoming a worldwide focal point in 1994 when both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives in a tragic race weekend.
Following extensive renovation work, a comeback for the track had been mooted for a number of years. Imola’s return to the Formula 1 calendar was nevertheless a surprise, coming in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hosting a unique two-day race weekend, the Imola event was renamed the ‘Emilia Romagna Grand Prix’, in honour of the region in which the Imola circuit sits. The event returned in 2021, replacing the cancelled Chinese Grand Prix, before signing a longer-term contract in 2022 to remain on the schedule until at least 2025.
Pescara featured on the Formula 1 calendar only once, in 1957. It did so somewhat unexpectedly and at short notice, with the Belgian, Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix having been cancelled in a dispute over fees.
The Pescara circuit is the longest on which F1 has ever raced. With most of the drivers unfamiliar with the 26km layout, many had concerns over the safety of the event. There were particular concerns at the time following the Mille Miglia disaster earlier in the year, which had resulted in the death of 13 spectators. Enzo Ferrari refused to send his team to the event for this exact reason.
Only 16 drivers qualified for the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix. Stirling Moss was one of the drivers who did have past experience of the track and his experience showed, winning the race by over three minutes.
It’s estimated that 200,000 fans lined the track to watch the action. Due to the length of the track, there was no attempt to issue tickets for the event. Also, such was the length of the track, between practice sessions the roads forming the circuit were re-opened to the public. Jack Brabham made a notable pit stop during the race, by pulling into a roadside station to top his car up!
The Pescara circuit had been raced on since 1924 and, while the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix was the only World Championship race held at the venue, it continued to host racing events until 1961. Pescara’s inclusion on the calendar gave Italy the distinction of being the first country to host two World Championship Grands Prix in a single year.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Formula 1 added a number of events at new circuits to bolster its pandemic-struck 2020 calendar. While Imola was one of the additions to the schedule, so too was Mugello. Located in the Tuscany region of Italy, the Mugello race was named the Tuscan Grand Prix – or to give it its full title the “Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio della Toscana Ferrari 1000 2020”.
Ferrari celebrated their milestone 1,000th Grand Prix appearance at the event, with a revised livery. Sadly for the Scuderia, their poor 2020 form did not pick up for the race, with Charles Leclerc finishing eighth and Sebastian Vettel languishing outside of the points.
The 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix was punctuated by two red flag periods – the first the result of a pile up on the main straight and the second as a result of a crash for Lance Stroll. Lewis Hamilton took the 90th win of his career, joined by his Mercedes team-mate and Alex Albon, who secured the first podium result of his F1 career. Unlike Imola, Mugello has not become a regular fixture on the calendar and the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix remains the only F1 race to have taken place at the track.