Imola and Monza to alternate as Italian GP host venue?
The Italian Grand Prix could be shared between Imola and Monza, following the visit from a delegation representing Imola to Bernie Ecclestone's off...
The Italian Grand Prix could be shared between Imola and Monza, following the visit from a delegation representing Imola to Bernie Ecclestone's offices in London on Tuesday.
The attractive circuit, close to Bologna and Ferrari's Maranello base, last hosted a race in 2006, the year of the second classic battle between Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso at the venue (below). The 2005 event had also been a thriller.
It lost the rights after that as a major refurbishment programme went on and now it's ready to come back, with the money to do so from a wealthy local utility business. Monza meanwhile is struggling to raise the hosting fee to retain the race beyond its 2016 contract expiry.
The 84 year old impresario said yesterday, "It was Enzo Ferrari who suggested to me a race at Imola, a step away from Bologna. It was great and it's good to be speaking about it again. There are some good plans and the means to do it.
"Imola was a good experience which could comeback once the contract at Monza expires at the end of 2016," added Ecclstone. "Imola is proposing to alternate with Monza. We could do that. Above all I want to ensure that Italy stays on the F1 calendar. But while I'm meeting with Imola I've heard nothing from Monza for a month."
The idea of alternating host venues is not new. Germany has been doing it for a few years, although this year Nurburgring ran into financial difficulties and the race next month was cancelled.
There have been some suggestions that Mugello is also interested in getting involved in hosting the race, but access for thousands of cars to the venue is notoriously difficult (the Moto GP crowd largely arrives by bike!) and Ecclestone says that the venue also does not have the money.
Imola has the funds and is embarking on a new plan to expand the paddock area, which is bordered by the Santerno river and was always difficult at the top end for access with the large trucks and motorhomes F1 brings.
The funding comes from a company called Con.Ami, a multi utility business, according to Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport. They have a budget of €300m and a strong desire to get Imola back on the map to promote the region of Emilia Romagna (one of Italy's most beautiful and industrially powerful areas).Although many in F1 were nervous about the prospect of losing the Italian GP at Monza, which is part of the spine of the sport's history, those who remember the San Marino Grands Prix at Imola will be encouraged; it was one of the most enjoyable Grands Prix on the calendar and as Ecclestone says, the overall objective has to be to maintain Italy as a host country for Grands Prix at all costs.
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