All eyes are on Imola at the weekend for the latest round in the Formula 1 World Championship, but the Autodromo Dino Ferrari has been a regular fixture on the F1 scene for nearly half a century now.

It first staged the Italian Grand Prix in 1980 when Monza was out of action while being refurbished, but 12 months earlier, it hosted one of those now largely extinct non-championship F1 races that were such a feature of the sport right through until the early 1980s, when they died out after it became impossible to squeeze them into the calendar.

Niki Lauda won the 1979 Gran Premio Dino Ferrari di F1 at Imola, in what was effectively a test run for the following year’s Italian Grand Prix. Autosport reported that the event was ‘thinly-supported’, but those who attended were some exciting racing, not least when Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve pranged the back of Lauda’s Brabham-Alfa. That forced the Canadian to make a stop, following which he ate up the track, creating fastest lap after fastest lap to bring himself back up to seventh.

Covering the event, Autosport’s Jeff Hutchinson noted, “Safety standards were not the best in the world, but we are promised big improvements for next year and the Grand Prix itself.” It was a different world…

You can read Autosport’s comprehensive race coverage here.

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