Imola - a very special race.
San Marino GP - Ferrari::Shell - Preview

When the Shell-supported Ferrari team comes to the San Marino Grand Prix this week, a small town in Northern Italy will erupt - Ferrari is coming home.

Since the Australian Grand Prix at the beginning of March, Formula One has travelled nearly 50,000 kilometres and has covered both sides of the globe. Imola is one of the world's most famous racing circuits and is still a favourite with drivers today. Shell will accompany its technical partner, Ferrari to the track as it will to every race this year, but Imola is a very special race for the fuel and oil supplier.

The track was founded in the 1940's as part of a series of public works to generate employment in the area and its fast flowing corners soon made a name for it as a track where only the most powerful cars would win. The track also became known as a notorious ‘engine breaker' for similar reasons. After a slow start, delayed by beauracratic problems, the circuit received its first official test run rather fittingly from the Ferrari team, Enzo Ferrari ran a Shell-fuelled and lubricated 340 Sport with Ascari, Marzotto and Villoresi taking turns at the wheel.

Shell's involvement with this historic track was to continue a few years later when the track saw its first taste of serious motor racing action. The ‘Congiglio D'Oro Shell' (Golden Shell) race was held in 1954. The race for sports cars was essentially a battle between Ferrari and Maserati which Maglioi won in his Ferrari ahead of Musitelli and Musso's Maseratis. The same year, Shell hosted the Congiglia D'oro for motorbikes which offered the winner a then unheard of prize of 12 million lire!

By 1963, Formula One had noticed Imola's potential and the honour of the first man to win at this now-mythical circuit was another Shell winner, Jim Clark with his revolutionary Lotus 25. Although the race was a non-championship event, he narrowly beat the Shell-powered Ferrari of John Surtees to claim the win.

By 1965, the circuit had begun to assume the look of a more modern racetrack with grandstands being built along the start-finish line and it was certainly well developed when the track was officially named ‘Ciruito Dino Ferrari' in honour of Mr. Ferrari's late son in 1970. The name of Ferrari's founder was also added to the circuit's name when he passed away in 1988.

By the 1980's, the circuit was well and truly a part of Formula One. It hosted the Italian Grand Prix in 1980 (when the race was moved from Monza) and then in 1981, the first San Marino Grand Prix was held. Since then, Imola has held another 22 Formula One races, which have brought the ever-faithful tifosi a wide range of experiences and emotions. They have witnessed Gerhard Berger's miraculous escape from his fiery crash in 1989, the tragic weekend in which Formula One lost Roland Razenburger and Ayrton Senna and the euphoria when Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello finished one-two in their Ferraris last year.

Having been there at the very first time a racing car was run at Imola, Shell has powered nearly 30% of all the Formula one cars to win at San Marino in the 23 races. It has held and has in fact powered three of the past four wins. Imola is a very special track for Shell, and another victory this weekend would be celebrated by the tifosi and Shell engineers alike.