In the world of Formula One, nothing is sacred. The sport marches to the beat of those providing the dollars and if you are a nation prepared to spend tens of millions from the public purse, you can have an F1 Grand Prix.
This year we saw an iconic name fall from the race calendar, as TJ13 reported two days ago, the Nurburgring failed to meet Bernie Ecclestone’s demands for a hosting fee, by just 2-3 million euros.
F1 fans from the nation that once ruled the world, brought us parmesan cheese and the fine robust flavours of a Montepulciano are now seriously facing the prospect of losing the Cathedral of Speed from the annual weekend haunts of the F1 circus.
Enrico Ferrari had been running the Italian GP race organisation for many years and was a close friend and ally of Mr. E. But he was sacked along with 6 others following an alleged scandal over fraudulent tickets sales. Those implicated included Director of the circuit along with the technical director Giorgio Beghella Bartoli, the accounting officer and the president of Franco Becchere Acp & Partners – Marco Villa Luca, who manages the sponsorship of the racetrack.
Ecclestone commented on at the time, “I do not understand what is really happening. I very much appreciate Enrico Ferrari, who for over twenty years I have dealt with over the contract for the Italian Grand Prix. It is thanks to him that Monza had a favourable financial arrangement when compared to all other European races. No F1 event costs as little on the continent as the Italian Grand Prix. Enrico is tough in business, but direct, competent and clean.“
Monza has always been offered a favourable arrangement in terms of hosting fees, believed to be less than half the 20 million euro’s Ecclestone is now demanding from the European circuits.
Storm clouds have been gathering on the horizon for some time in the foothills of the Italian lakeside region as the current F1 race contract expires in September this year.
Due to a change in Italian tax legislation, Monza have also been hit with an incremental 20 million annual tax bill as certain governmental rebates once offered have been withdrawn
Bernie Ecclestone is one who never forgets, and the removal of his friend and ally, Enrico Ferrari, from his position at the Autodromo was always likely to come home to roost
Today F1’s Supremo tells Gazzetta Dello Sport, “It’s a very simple situation. Two years ago I made a deal with one of the people who are no longer involved.
“For Monza we applied the same economic conditions of the other European circuits [€20M for every GP]. All done, all good, we shook hands, but after that meeting nothing happened.
“There is a contract for the 2015 race, but not for future seasons.
Given that Ecclestone’s deals are famed for being done on the shake of a hand, no one other than Enrico, can verify whether Bernie is offering the same terms now – or whether like for Austin – they have been inflated considerably.
Given Nurburgring’s failure to secure an F1 race for the sake of 3 million euros, the reality is bleak for Monza.
Rumours persist, that Ferrari are collaborating behind the scenes to provide an alternative venue in Scarperia. Though until an announcement is made, we can but hope the soul of speed; the pursuit in the park, will somehow retain the Italian GP.
But time is very short
Simply: Mugello of Monza???