The first F1 race to take place at the iconic Imola circuit for 14 years will be witnessed by up to 13,000 fans on race day after kerbs in place to prevent mass gatherings were lifted in time for its calendar return.

The coronavirus-initiated shake up of the 2020 F1 calendar has enabled Imola to find its way back onto the schedule for a first race since 2006, when the last of 27 races - largely under the San Marino Grand Prix moniker - were held.

This weekend’s Russian Grand Prix was the first of the season to be held with ‘open doors’ and the same was expected for Imola after the most recent San Marino MotoGP events at Misano welcomed a limited number of spectators.

 

 

However, a maximum of 13,000 spectators will be allowed on both days of the event and tickets are almost already sold out despite going on sale this late into the season. 

It marks a poignant moment for Italy in particular, which was hit particularly badly in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis but has succeeded more recently in resisting a second wave that is otherwise scuppering plans to welcome spectators back to events in other countries, including the UK.

Representing the 13th round of the 2020 F1 season in November, for the first time the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be a two-day event, which will be no mean feat given it is unusual for the sport to still be racing in Europe this late into the year.

The decision to kick track action off on Saturday rather than Friday was made to give team’s more flexibility to travel from Portimao days earlier, though it is likely going to be viewed as a potential option in future should F1 consider format changes.

 

 

The return to Imola will come after another returning F1 event at the Nurburgring - which hosts its first grand prix since 2013 - and before the first Turkish Grand Prix since 2011.

As well as their return, the new look calendar has visited the iconic Mugello Circuit for the first time, while Portimao makes its debut as the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996 when it was held at Estoril.