Imola beautiful on the outside, a disaster on the inside: anger and disappointment among the fans

from Imola, Italy

The Grand Prix of Made in Italy and Emilia Romagna 2022 saw the return of the general public to the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola. 120,000 more or less tickets sold over the three days for a highly anticipated event that welcomed Ferrari absolute dominator in the first three stages of the season. The results on the track were not satisfactory for the thousands of fans dressed in red, given Sainz’s retirement and Leclerc’s mess, but at least they can be happy with the return to the circuit after the pandemic and especially in the stands of Imola, given that two editions of 2020 and 2021 were behind closed doors.

But not everything that glitters is gold: during the weekend of the Grand Prix we were present in the stands of the racetrack, we wanted to collect the impressions and emotions of the fansItalians and non-Italians, on their return to the stands for a world event like Formula 1. The heavy rain that fell on Thursday, Friday and Sunday morning certainly did not stop the fans, but the conditions of the circuit slowed them down. those areas aimed at reaching the stands, with never ending mud and which created enormous inconvenience to the public, but also to insiders and fellow journalists.

Friday, heavy rain as mentioned, we arrive at the circuit around 10: there was not a lot of crowd and it was possible to enter with relative ease, thanks also to controls, how to say, a little bland, and this was accentuated as the days passed and the racetrack inevitably filled up. To a specific question to the controllers, to whom we asked if the tickets would be double-checked once they entered, they answer us with a dry “Boh”. Oh well, it must have been a coincidence. We arrive near the fan zone, we wanted to reach the Rivazza exit, Tribuna R, our seat was there, a steward sent us to Acque Minerali, without any sign or indicationunder torrential rain.

When we arrived at the Acque, the steward at the entrance to the grandstand told us that he was unable to help us, he did not know how to reach Rivazza, he was only there to check whether or not the tickets were valid. While in, between one slip and another in the mud, we understand that the story of the weekend could be very different from how we imagined it. Arrived at our grandstand, we see the very bad and above all very dangerous conditions of the lawn below, which got worse day by day, not to mention the Prato Rivazza area, absolutely indecent. We witnessed, we’re not kidding, to hundreds of falls over the course of the weekend, some even quite violent. We tried to put some gravel in some places to absorb the whole, but too little and not with due timeliness.

It did not go better for the team members and fellow journalists (for those few Italians who were let in, heartfelt congratulations that must be shared with the Federation, ed). In the press room it was hard to work with Wi-Fiit was not always possible to have a desk available and the parked cars were immersed in mud, so much so that on Friday it took hours before we could leave, and someone even damaged their car in an attempt to recover it. For these reasons, on Sunday immediately after the race we decided to ask as many fans as possible to get their impressions about this weekend, and this is what they told us.

“Certainly the mud situation was very bad – Riccardo told us – also because rain was expected, therefore the gravel could be put first, Saturday (the day when the gravel was placed at the entrance to the Rivazza) was too late. I was on Rivazza 1 and I was lucky enough to have stands and steps, but whoever was on Rivazza 2 or worse still on the lawn practically had to roll off the shore, risking getting hurt. We have not made a good impression even at the international level, because on Saturday morning I went to steal some selfies from the riders at the entrance to the paddock. In the same way there was a nearby car park where mechanics, journalists and employees had to park, but since the lawn had been muddy since Friday (and it had to be planned there too) the cars could not park, for the anger of those who had to get out and enter the paddock on foot and for those who had to park who knows where “.

“Then another critical issue was the management of the public. Zero steward in the stands they controlled, there were people who stood behind the fence and whoever was in the front row saw nothing, with these subjects who did not want to move. And, what’s more, there were people who sat in places that were not theirs. To get them to move you had to fight. It happened to me on Saturday. Our three seats occupied by guys who didn’t want to leave, until after a fight and threatening to call the stewards, they are gone. This lack was also felt a lot, especially on Saturday and Sunday when the racetrack was full ”.

Antonello certainly does not send them to say: “I had a Prato Rivazza ticket, which as you well know cost € 90. The first sore point was the difficulty in reaching the sector; no indications, no signs and very few personnel to ask for information on the matter. For those like me who knew the circuit it was still feasible, but surely there will be people who have had greater difficulties. In any case, once we reach the entrance, a policeman very kindly tells us to go back because the entrance itself is impracticable; people slipped, so they made you enter the Prato Rivazza from the same entrance as the grandstand with consequent chaos. The worst surprise, however, you find it once you enter: you walked in the mud, you could not move because you risked falling, so much so that many people have slipped. Personally, as soon as I could, I positioned myself but without being able to move for fear of falling. I understand that you can’t expect much from a meadow, but in my opinion there wasn’t even the slightest bit. A really bad organization in the face of very high prices “.

Then: “On the controls I can tell you that I am been practically absent. No one asked us for my ID, so if my ticket had been stolen, anyone could have entered my seat. I, who am a fair person, went to the sector I had bought, but many people rather stopped in the Rivazza Tribune. Then no metal detector checks, the backpack only fleetingly opened and no control over what you might have on. In short, nothing “.

Matteo increases the dose: “I’m happy to have spent“ only ”100 euros for a ticket for Prato Tosa given what I’m reading about the stands. That said, indecent the absence of a large screen for those who were at the La Tosa lawn and also the absence of megaphones. We were pretty much in the dark about everything that was going on. Regarding the mud situation, no comment, not to mention the doors open at the end of the race, a steward told us that they would open the doors at the Piratella, only to tell us the opposite at the end of the race with an adjoining race to exit the first point available and risk of falling. Really very disappointed with the organization, I don’t know how in 2022 to appreciate a race in the circuit after spending 100 euros for a ticket, I have to use Sky Go“.

In the center of Imola we met a group of muddy boys, who told us more or less the same things, amazed at how such an event could have been managed: “At Rivazza there were many more people than they should have, they probably entered from the lawn, sat on the crumbling wooden steps and even obscured the view”.

Marcello tell us: “Lots of cars bogged down outside the Rivazza car parks, fortunately other fans stopped to help to unlock them.”

We would have more to say and write, we have well or badly collected all the misadventures and hardships of the fans who have flocked to what represents the history of motorsport not only in Italy, but in the world of motors in general. And it is a real pity that this event, highly anticipated not only for Ferrari finally back big, but also above all for the joy of going back to the racetrack and following Formula 1 live has been full of pitfalls. The park inside is wonderful, it is a place where you can truly breathe racing, and for this reason it should be safeguarded. Rain cannot and must not be an excuse, we have been around many circuits in Europe and we remember very few of these problems. Work must be done to allow people to attend the event in a safe way, without having the anxiety of getting hurt at every step, then facilitate them and make sure that this experience is not just a grind, because it is not so and it would be wrong to get this message across.

Many have also told us about the exorbitant prices for gadgets and food, but here the racetrack has absolutely nothing to do with itare provisions of the Formula 1 world and it is so in every circuit.

Ours is not and does not want to be a criticism regardless, the writer loves Imola and all the history that this stupendous system has collected over the years, we would just like to see it shine for what it deserves, and the great events are also used for this.

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