If Monza vanishes from the Formula One calendar, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of fans will be devastated.
Imagine if you will….
NASCAR without Daytona.
Indycar without Indianapolis.
Moto GP without Assen.
Endurance without Le Mans.
IMSA without Sebring.
You can’t, can you? Well, that is the very threat hanging around Formula One currently. Bernie Ecclestone is threatening to remove Monza from the Formula One calendar. Monza, the spiritual home of Ferrari, where the Tifosi converge in huge numbers to pay homage to the scarlet red cars. Drive for Ferrari at Monza, and you are treated as a god by the Tifosi even after you leave this Earth. Ask any Ferrari fan about Gilles Villeneuve, and the number 27, and you will get chapter and verse about the great man. So, let’s imagine what would happen, should we lose Monza, by looking at the other hypothetical examples.
Firstly, NASCAR would probably not exist without Daytona, and the vision of Bill France. He organised races on Daytona Beach. Great names like Lee Petty and Tim Flock emerged as stars as the racing grew. In time, Daytona International Speedway was built, and the Daytona 500 was born. Without Mr. France, and Daytona, NASCAR as we know it, would most certainly not exist.
Indianopolis Motor Speedway. The home of the greatest race in the world. The circuit has given its name to the sport of Indycar through the Indy 500. Indy has also hosted NASCAR, F1, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and Moto GP events. Without Indy, there would be no Indycar.
Assen, in the Netherlands is known as 'The Cathedral Of Speed.' The old classic Dutch TT circuit has been shortened, but hundreds and thousands of people make the pilgrimage every year to watch Moto GP there. Half the crowd is British. World Superbikes and BSB also use Assen, and without Assen, still the only Grand Prix to run on a Saturday, Moto GP would just not be the same.
Can you even fathom endurance racing without Le Mans? No you can’t! Without Le Mans, there would probably be no GT sportscar racing. What would be the point? Everybody, the world over who has any idea of motorsport knows of Le Mans. Everybody in the world of motorsport wants to race there. Everybody wants to go there and experience it. Without Le Mans, the town itself would become a ghost town. There would be no IMSA series in America as we know it. No Daytona 24 hours, no Sebring 12 hours. Sportscar racing, in my honestopinion, would die.
Formula One would doubtless survive without Monza. Mugello would probably step in to replace it. Well, I believe, to lose Monza, could kill F1 in Italy. Ferrari would certainly not be amused and add onto that Montezemolo's recent threat to bail on the sport and start an LMP1 program in WEC.
Even though Mugello is on their door step, Monza has an incredible history going back to the banked track, which you can still walk around. It is one of those few venues in Formula One that evoke some incredibly strong emotions. Every driver wants to win at Monza. To lose Monza would rip the heart out of Formula One and further distance some already disgruntled fans.
We have lost some great tracks in Formula One already, such as Imola, Brands Hatch, Zandvoort, Kyalami, the old Hockenheim. They are replaced by soulless Tilke circuits in India, Russia, Abu Dhabi, and soon Azerbaijan. I exclude Austin, Texas as that place has given Formula One new life in the USA. On behalf of every Formula One fan in the world, I urge Ecclestone to work with Monza, not against them as he used to do with Silverstone. Monza must be kept on the calendar, or the beating heart of the sport, will beat slower and break.
If they continue down this path of desecrating iconic racing grounds, Formula One will become nothing more than an empty shell of a sport.