Formula 1 (F1), the prestigious motor racing series, has extended the contract of the Imola racetrack in northern Italy, which for the last two years has hosted the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, through to 2025.
The agreement, announced yesterday (March 7), means the Enzo e Dino Ferrari International Circuit will continue to host grands prix for the next four F1 campaigns, starting with the upcoming 2022 season.
Imola first hosted F1 action in 1980 in the form of the Italian Grand Prix but then became the host of the San Marino Grand Prix in 1981, a position it held until 2006 (despite the death of racing driver Ayrton Senna following a crash there in 1994).
The circuit then lost its contract for the next 14 years, with the Monza racetrack near Milan taking the one Italian Grand Prix slot, which it still holds.
However, Imola returned as an F1 venue in 2020 amid the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a slew of race postponements and cancellations, and has put on the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix for the last two seasons.
Stefano Domenicali, president and chief executive of Formula 1, said: “I am delighted that we will be continuing our excellent partnership with Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix until 2025. The circuit is iconic and has been part of the history of our sport and they have done an incredible job of hosting two races during the pandemic. It is a proud moment for our Italian fans to host two races.”
Angelo Sticchi Damiani, the Automobile Club of Italy’s president, added: “This is not only a great success for sport in Italy but also a great enrichment for the top international motorsport series that has confirmed in its calendar for several years one of the most difficult races, but also the greatest, and the one that's mostly loved by both drivers and teams.”
The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix will form part of a 22-race F1 calendar for the 2022 season, which will get underway on March 18 in Bahrain.
That race, to be held at the Bahrain International Circuit, had its own contract extended last month, with the extension running through until 2036 – the longest scheduled hosting deal on the current F1 calendar.
The deal will extend Bahrain’s tenure as an F1 destination past the 30-year mark, with the venue having first featured on the calendar in 2004 when it became the series’ first Middle Eastern race.
Both Singapore and Abu Dhabi have also had their contracts to stage F1 races renewed in recent months.
Initially, the 2022 season was meant to feature a record 23 races, but earlier this month F1 terminated the contract of the Russian Grand Prix in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Singaporean telecoms and cable operator StarHub has renewed its deal to cover F1 in that country for the 2022 season.
StarHub, which first covered F1 action in Singapore during the final months of 2021 after the rightsholder at that time, Fox Sports Asia, shut down in October, will show all 22 races live this season.
It will continue to share F1 rights with rival telecoms operator Singtel, which struck a deal in October running through to the end of 2022. StarHub’s own deal only covered the last few races of 2021.
Viewers can watch via the Hub Sports 1 and Hub Sports 2 channels on linear TV, while the action will also be available for live-streaming on the telco’s various digital offerings and via smart devices.
As well as the races, StarHub will also cover the practice sessions and qualifying live.
It is anticipated that Singaporean interest in F1 will be heightened this year, with the Singapore Grand Prix set to return to the calendar in October after a two-year pandemic-enforced hiatus.
Last month, StarHub ended Singtel’s long stint as rightsholder in Singapore for English soccer’s top-tier Premier League, by striking a six-year deal running through until the end of the 2027-28 campaign.
Elsewhere, F1 also yesterday unveiled F1 Manager 2022, a management simulation video game produced as the first part of a long-term agreement struck with game producer Frontier Developments in early 2020.
The game, F1 has said, “delivers a challenging experience for new and die-hard motorsport fans alike, while detailing the intricacies of the world’s most prestigious racing brand.”
F1 Manager 2022, Frontier Sports’ first title as part of a multi-year agreement, will launch later this year.
The game gives fans the chance to become team principal, hire drivers and engineers, deal with budgets, and make decisions across the race weekend.
Ross Brawn, managing director for motorsports at F1, said: “The F1 Manager franchise is a great opportunity for fans to put themselves in the shoes of a team principal and experience some of that for themselves. I am confident that with their own successful track record in management gaming, Frontier will deliver an enjoyable and engaging experience for fans.”