Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has a message for Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone: “Leave Monza alone”.
“That’s what we’re going to tell Ecclestone. Formula One doesn’t rely solely on money. It’s also about the (history),” Renzi said after Ecclestone’s latest warning on the Italian Grand Prix’s future.
No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, which was on the inaugural 1950 calendar and has been a mainstay since, only dropping off in 1980 when Imola hosted the Italian GP. The track outside Milan will be hosting its 65th GP this weekend.
But Monza organisers have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($A40 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place.
“We are happy to be at Monza, obviously, but we are not doing cut-price things,” Ecclestone said two weeks ago.
Ecclestone added there was a “good chance” Monza would be dropped when its deal expired after next year’s race.
Monza organisers are prepared to pay 15 million euros ($A24 million) a year to keep the race through to 2020.
The 40-year-old Renzi can deliver his message in person to the 84-year-old Ecclestone when he presents the winner’s trophy after Sunday’s race.
If Monza doesn’t produce the cash, the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola that hosted the San Marino GP from 1981 to 2006 could step in as a replacement. Or perhaps the two tracks would alternate hosting the race from year to year.
F1 great Jackie Stewart said he would be very sad if Monza was dropped.
“It would be very negative for Formula One and motorsport in general if Monza could not put a deal together, with a possible compromise on one side or the other,” Stewart told Autosport. “No matter where you are in the world, if you say the word Monza, it comes to everyone’s mind what it is – it’s the home of the Italian Grand Prix.
“The charisma of Monza and the passion of the crowd is in excess of any other grand prix in the world,” Stewart added on the 50th anniversary of his first career win at Monza.
Monza’s problems come after the German GP was dropped for this season – although it is due back next year – and with the French GP off the calendar since 2008.
“It’s not good,” Stewart said. “The French started motorsport. … Germany has Mercedez-Benz, Porsche and so forth. They both have a great history. You learn a lot from history. It is tradition we need.”