Exclusive: Imola begins talks to save Italian Grand Prix

Imola has begun discussions with Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to save the Italian Grand Prix if Monza is unable to secure a fresh contract for 2017, Motorsport.com can reveal.

Exclusive: Imola begins talks to save Italian Grand Prix
Nick Heidfeld
Start: Michael Schumacher takes the lead
Nico Rosberg
A view of the pit area
Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso battle
Fernando Alonso chases Michael Schumacher
Start of pace lap
Jacques Villeneuve
Mark Webber

The city's mayor, Daniele Manca, met with F1 supremo Ecclestone in London on Monday to discuss the possibility of the track getting a grand prix back.

Imola has not hosted an F1 race since it held the San Marino Grand Prix in 2006, prior to a circuit revamp that took place in 2007.

Monza doubts

Monza officials met with Ecclestone in Monaco last month to try to push forward a deal, but it has become clear that discussions will not resume until the necessary finances are in place.

Ecclestone has made it clear several times that he wants Monza to pay the same as other European venues to host the race after its current contract runs out next year.

The prospect of losing the Italian Grand Prix has been met with intense criticism from fans, which is why Imola chiefs are now eager to push for their own solution to keep the country on the F1 calendar.

Imola ready

The meeting with Ecclestone also involved Uberto Selvatico Estense, president of Formula Imola, and Stefano Manara, president of CON.AMI.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Manca said: "We wanted to show Ecclestone how willing Imola was to get Formula 1 back – but also do our part to keep the grand prix in Italy.

"We presented our plan to relaunch the circuit, outline the investments we have made and what we plan to do in the coming years with our infrastructure."

Deal possible

Although Imola has not come near being able to put a fresh F1 deal together in recent years, Manca claimed that Ecclestone was open to the idea of a 2017 return.

"Bernie told us that he never wanted to go away from Imola – and he must remember that Enzo Ferrari originally asked him to organise a grand prix on our circuit.

"There are issues to sort out – and one factor is obviously the economy. But Ecclestone has agreed to check the timeframe and conditions under which it would be possible to get F1 back to Imola. The target is 2017."

 

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