There are times when an F1 writer dreads the current news cycle. One of those is when the F1 calendar is the centre of attention.
Of course F1 fans want to know whether the historic circuits they cherish are in jeopardy, yet the smoke screens and misinformation spread abroad by the Ecclestone Empire become simply ridiculous around the time when a promoter is seeking to renew a race contract.
Motorsport.com ran an ‘exclusive’ on how Imola is available to replace the Cathedral of speed and that San Marino could ‘save’ the Italian Grand Prix. They report Ecclestone met yesterday with Uberto Selvatico Estense, president of Formula Imola, and Stefano Manara, president of CON.AMI and the city’s mayor, Daniele Manca
Manca states: “We wanted to show Ecclestone how willing Imola was to get Formula 1 back – but also do our part to keep the Grand Prix in Italy.
“We presented our plan to relaunch the circuit, outline the investments we have made and what we plan to do in the coming years with our infrastructure.”
Well blow me down with a feather duster.
Next up, the spectre of Enzo Ferrari is then called upon to breathe new life into the idea of a race in Imola. This is despite the fact the circuit is in a relative state of dilapidation as defined by the modern Formula One safety regulations.
“Bernie told us that he never wanted to go away from Imola – and he must remember that Enzo Ferrari originally asked him to organise a GP on our circuit.
“There are issues to sort out – and one factor is obviously the economy. But Ecclestone has agreed to check the time frame and conditions under which it would be possible to get F1 back to Imola. The target is 2017.”
Of course the current woes of Monza are well documented here. The circuit recently lost a 20 million euro tax rebate from the authorities and are having to find another 13 million euros to meet Ecclestones new hosting fee demands.
Monza barely makes a profit at present.
However, as TJ13 recently reported, there is new hope for Monza since the current chairman of Ferrari spoke categorically on the matter during the weekend of the Canadian GP.
“For my part, Monza will not fail.
“If they have problems then we should talk to Bernie (Ecclestone),” added Sergio Marchionne.
“If I consider the prospects for Monza, I think the race will not be excluded from the championship.
“If, in order to have this guarantee, we will have to intervene in the negotiations with Ecclestone, we will do that.”
Sergio Marchionne has proven to be a man who gets what he wants and also one who keeps his promises.
Following circuit butchering and a rebuilding of some of the facilities in 2008, Charlie Whiting awarded the circuit an FIA certification of “1” in 2011. However in the intervening years Imola has fallen behind the standards required by FOM to be awarded an F1 race contract.
This would most likely mean more facility upgrades would be required before F1 could return and the track layout would need to be ‘Tilkered’ – again – to prevent another processional F1 race.
The Imola 6 hour race was reinstated in 2011 after a 26 year absence. However, the Le Mans series (European sporstcar series) didn’t return for a race in 2012 and the event was downgraded to 3 hours in 2013.
Finally, given the new Ecclestone tough man act with Nurburgring and that the going rate for to host a European round of F1 is between 15 – 20 million euros.. how the Imola promoters believe they can afford this is beyond any reasonable calculations.
This story is just more Ecclestone propaganda, published by the now usual source and is an age old trick deployed to put pressure on Monza.