In an interview with the media today, Formula One Boss Bernie Ecclestone has suggested the Italian Grand Prix could fall off the calendar along with German as he puts pressure on Monza to agree to new terms after 2016.
The German Grand Prix will not take place this year after it became clear the Nurburgring could not afford the high race sanctioning fees demanded by Formula One. In an interview with the media today,
Ecclestone has stated that Italy’s current contract sees it pay less than some of the other European races, but unless it finds a way to pay the going rate it will also go the way of Germany. Ecclestone stated the following:- ‘We have to wait and see. They don’t have an agreement. A bit like Germany really.’
When further asked in his interview today if it was unthinkable to lose Italy from the calendar or even have another GP at a different track in the country, Ecclestone said the following in response:-
‘I tell you something, I was told that when we didn’t have a race in France actually. And Germany now. We’ve got some good replacements, haven’t we? Yeah, sure we could at another track.’
Even though the situation for 2016 is still being debated, I believe that it is essential for Monza to remain on the calendar because it is a track that has been on the calendar which the sport began and is well liked by the teams, drivers and the fans. It is clear for all to see that he is more than happy to get rid of a classic track like Monza and Ecclestone for me needs to take these concerns on board surrounding the track especially after losing the German GP this season for the same reason; even if another track in Italy could host the event if an agreement with Monza isn’t reached.
Meanwhile, plans for the inaugural Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku next year are on course according to Ecclestone. When also asked if the country’s human rights record would be checked, he said the following in the latter stages of his interview today:-
‘Ah Baku, yes. Sure. No problem. That’s going to be another good race. I think everybody seems to be happy. Doesn’t seem to be any big problem there.’
Even though the Baku GP looks to be going ahead as planned, at the moment, we are not interested in them and are more concerned about Monza and its future on the calendar. The Italian Grand Prix has been on the calendar since 1950 and has only once been held somewhere other than Monza in 1980 when it was hosted by Imola and we simply cannot lose this track from the calendar.
Even though Formula One needs to expand to new markets in order to secure its future; we cannot lose the tracks that have made the sport the way it is now. With tracks such as Silverstone, Monza, Monaco and Spa, it is the perfect mix of classic tracks with new tracks such as COTA and Sochi that teams and drivers like racing at; but that the fans like paying good money to see.
If there wasn’t an Grand Prix at Monza, the public outrage that Ecclestone would recieve from Ferrari and also Italy would be justified and would have the support of many fans too. I cannot imagine Formula One not going to Monza or not seeing the huge amounts of the tifosi cheering on their team at the track either, but it is a situation that Bernie needs to resolve quickly and find an arrangement for 2016 and beyond that is beneficial to them both; before Formula One loses yet another classic and much loved track that it simply cannot afford to.