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Merry Christmas, Monza! Law change set to save the Italian Grand Prix

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Merry Christmas, Monza! Law change set to save the Italian Grand Prix
Dec 17, 2015, 5:52 PM

The future of the Italian Grand Prix could be settled in the coming weeks as the Italian parliament is expected to approve new legislation that wou...

The future of the Italian Grand Prix could be settled in the coming weeks as the Italian parliament is expected to approve new legislation that would increase funding for the race, according to reports in Italy.

A new four or seven year deal could then be inked in the New Year.

The race at Monza has been under threat for some time and at the Italian Grand Prix in September, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone warned organisers that it could lose its place on the calendar if increased hosting fees, which are believed to be around €25m annually were not accepted when the current contract runs out in 2016.

Monza podium

But a report in Gazzetta Dello Sport suggests that the Italian government has agreed to let the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) change a statute to use its finances to help fund the Italian race, as there had previously been a limitation on how it could use its resources.

Angelo Sticchi Damiani, president of the ACI, explained that the changes are likely to be approved before Christmas and he praised the intervention of the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, who appeared at Monza and spoke with Ecclestone in person.

Angelo Sticchi Damiani

He said: “This statute prevented us from intervening to save Monza. We had problems distinguishing income from sport and other activities. This change has been decisive and so the most important work is now done.

“At this point, it has to be approved by parliament, which should be done before Christmas. I have to say that it was important to have Matteo Renzi at the Grand Prix.”

When Renzi met with Ecclestone, he explained at the time that the ACI was needed to guarantee the future of the Italian Grand Prix. Once the amendment has been approved, Sticchi Damiani will be able to close the deal with Ecclestone and save the Monza race.

Matteo Renzi Bernie Ecclestone

However, it is understood that there are still some details to be fine-tuned before it is officially confirmed, including the duration of the contract, which could either be four years or seven years, with Ecclestone thought to favour a seven-year deal.

It has also been suggested that the Automobile Club Milano will also be providing funds to the race in the coming years and the region of Lombardy will contribute €70m over ten years, which includes cash for some new infrastructure to be built at the circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen

German GP still at risk

While the future of one legendary F1 race appears to be secure once again, the long term prospects for German Grand Prix are still not certain.

The race did not take place this year after talks with the owners of the Nurburgring collapsed and although Hockenheim is set to go ahead in July 2016 with tickets on sale now, when asked if Germany would feature next season by the Die Welt newspaper, Ecclestone replied: “I do not know.”

Bernie Ecclestone

Despite the dominance of Mercedes over the last two years and Sebastian Vettel’s F1 titles before that, interest in the sport in Germany continues to decline, which Ecclestone cannot explain.

Ecclestone said: “It’s a mystery to me. I do not know what is going wrong in Germany; they have obviously lost the joy of F1, in the stands and in front of the TV screen.

“They could have no better motivation: Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg, and Sebastian Vettel, two top drivers in a Ferrari [and] the other in a Mercedes. [Plus] the incredible performance of Michael Schumacher in the past.”

Nurburgring

What do you make of the news that could save the Monza race? What needs to be done to save the German Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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