F1: Why Imola means a lot to me

Imola. Emilia Romagna. Italy. Europe.
An historic place for Formula 1.
Want to know more?

So, why does Imola matter to me?
It’s a story from long time ago.

1987

In 1987 one of the first task I had in my first job was going to Imola — Autodromo Enzo Ferrari and install the software that made the scoreboards on top of the finish line work with live Formula 1 races, Longines was managing the hardware part.

At the times we were managing data processing and broadcast graphics for Formula 1 in all gran Prix around the world.

The scoreboard as you can see from the photo below has a simple setup: 6 elements with 3 fields each: Rank - fixed, car number — controlled by us, time — also controlled by us. That’s it. We defined different layouts even with this very limited options to manage race and practice in a different way.

Those devices where talking to each other via serial ports and long cables were running from the timing booth to the finish line bridge.

The circuit

Such a great track. Driving around to place our tech equipment for timing we could realize how tough that track is to drive even in a normal car with its ups and downs and great turns. Even more respect for those who do it at those speeds.

Also, iconic names Tamburello, Villeneuve, Tosa, Piratella, Acque Minerali (scary!), and then down to Rivazza.

Gerhard Berger

April 23rd 1989. I was fully focused on some new broadcast graphics we introduced at the 1989 San Marino Gran Prix and, as often, even if my full attention was on the screen I was not really following the race, but all of sudden Gerhard Berger lost control of the Ferrari for a structural issue and went straight into the wall at Tamburello. All pixels on the screen around my silly tv graphics became flames. It was really shocking, I stood there without movement for a while, nauseous, I needed some minutes to regain control. This was happening few hundred meters from where we sit.
Luckily enough the rescue team prompt intervention saved his life.

Imola and Ristorante Zio’

On the positive side the people of Imola — better outside of the GP week — were great fun, and one place in particular was our “local” treat for food and good company.

Zio’, a small restaurant with few rooms in the center of the small city, owner and staff were iconic characters.
Amazing Zabaione and light white wines from the region on top of other great food.

I remember driving fast from torino to Imola on the Olivetti Lancia HPE Executive to arrive in time for dinner!

Roberto Nosetto

In those years Roberto Nosetto (ex Ferrari and from Torino) and his wife Renata were leading the Autodromo and quite a strong couple in charge of all aspects of the pre-race and race days. Can’t think of Imola in those years without them.

She recently wrote a book about Roberto long career.

Daniele Amaduzzi

Another key figure in those years was the wider than life photographer of Formula 1 Daniele Amaduzzi, many laughs and many books.

You can still buy his books on ebay and other platforms. He died around 2000.

Olivetti Computers per lo sport

The reason I am in this job 34 years later at Deltatre is because Olivetti in the 80s decided to sponsor sports and create a small department called Olivetti Computers per Lo Sport and a company called GammaConsult started to work for them in f1. I worked there only 1 year and started at Deltatre in 1988.

Riccardo Patrese 1990

One great year was 1990 when Patrese won Imola and Nannini was also on the podium, after two years of Senna domination.

Ayrton Senna 1994

I was home that day in 1994 when Ayrton Senna died in Imola. I felt betrayed. We were not working in F1 anymore that year.

My favorite driver and person in the circuit dies at my favorite circuit?
I stopped watching F1 for years.

@CDM / Chief Evangelist @deltatre