Norris, Sainz and Gasly hit back at F1 in track war over Imola

Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly agreed on the future of F1 tracks at Imola

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Formula 1 must continue to value historic tracks alongside new money-spinning events according to Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo, who urged decision-makers to push back against the sport’s direction of travel on circuits.

Ahead of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, F1 continues to pursue new tracks or street circuits – like Miami where Norris took his maiden victory last time out – as the list of classic venues grows shorter by the year.

Since Ricciardo made his F1 debut in 2011, Hockenheim and the Nurburgring have disappeared from the calendar with Barcelona following suit in 2026 and Spa also under threat alongside Imola and potentially Monaco.

“I think it’s what we all miss a little from all the new venues that we go to, this old school feeling of a track, the history behind them,” Sainz told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com at Imola.

“I’m glad the calendar keeps these venues because I think it reminds us all where we all come from and why we all became fans of this sport so I’m a big fan of coming back to places like Imola and Monaco next week.”

Gasly added: “I agree with all the points of Carlos, I think it’s part of the DNA of our sport. As a kid I remember watching these guys driving around here and these days it’s one of the best tracks the way you attack the kerb and the chicane is very iconic here.

The safety car leads the F1 pack through Eau Rouge ahead of the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix sprint race | Red Bull Content Pool

“It’s just a very cool track to drive and the history there is very impressive, I definitely think it’s important for us both to keep these types of venues.”

Even though Norris only made his F1 debut in 2019, he’s watched Saudi Arabia, Miami, Las Vegas and Qatar all join the calendar since then – though he did at least enjoy his last trip to Florida.

While admitting some of those newer tracks offer a better quality of racing compared to the likes of Imola, Norris also stressed the importance of F1 retaining its heritage.

“I think we want these circuits because they’re more challenging for us as drivers,” Norris said. “I think the history is always a part of every sport and you always want to keep definitely parts of history within it for whatever reason it is.”

General view during the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix while the safety car is out
General view during the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix while the safety car is out | REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Sainz pinpoints where Imola needs to improve

Sainz is the only driver apart from Norris to beat a Red Bull since 2022, taking victory in Singapore and Melbourne – but wasn’t able to challenge the McLaren driver in Miami, finishing fifth after a post-race penalty for contact with Oscar Piastri.

He added that F1’s historic tracks can’t afford to rest on their laurels and highlighted Imola‘s long pit lane as an example, saying it removes a strategical element from the race.

“I do think maybe there’s potentially a bit of work to do in some of these tracks to maybe make them a bit better for the show in terms of overtaking when we look at the overtaking possibilities in Monaco or here,” Sainz added.

“I think we need to see how long is the pit lane, see how we can make the old school tracks maybe a bit more exciting with the overtaking opportunities and making the race better.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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