The Imola management team have signed an agreement with commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone to run the Italian Grand Prix from as early as next year. The plans however must get approval from the national sporting authority.
Whilst Imola have done their bit to get the deal done, Bernie has to wait for the Automobile Club d’Italia to formally agree the move. Automobile Club d’Italia president Angelo Sticchi Damiani is known be a staunch supporter of Monza despite funding problems for the historic venue.
“Bernie knows that we are available,” Formula Imola president Uberto Selvatico Estense told Motorsport.com.
“And he sent us a proposal that we signed and sent back to him. We will be very happy to have F1 back in Imola. Our main effort is to achieve this kind of result.
“It just depends on Angelo Sticchi Damiani. I think it’s a political issue. We have an agreement with Bernie, and we only need the approval of the national sporting authority. If in the future there is not an Italian GP, it is only the problem of Mr Sticchi Damiani, who didn’t allow this agreement.”
The Imola President also has the backing of the regional government: “Stefano Bonaccini, the president of the region Emilia-Romagna, is supporting us.
“He is a very pragmatic man and he said if you have the contract, Bernie is happy and the national sporting authority approves this agreement, we support you.”
Imola is pushing for a quick answer so that they can proceed with plans to stage the race.
“I think we don’t have too much time to decide. We are going on with the work, also without an answer from Mr Sticchi Damiani.
“I think we have until December, maximum. I think it’s the limit, but the best thing will be before so we have one year to promote the race.”
Selvatico Estense has insisted that the circuit is in a good state of health physically and financially, and further upgrades are planned for the possible return of Formula one for the first time since the 2006 San Marino titled grand prix.
“We restructured the company several years ago, and now we’re running the company in a good position. We are in a good status. We closed the last three balance sheets positive, with a good result, so we think we are in a strong position to ask for the GP.
“We think that in Imola we can have a great success with spectators. We are building up new facilities, we are building up a new press room, we are completing the project of Hermann Tilke that began in 2006. Right now we are moving the medical centre and building up a new one. We are doing a lot.”
One possible alternative could see the Italian grand prix alternate between Monza and Imola, much like how the German GP deal was originally drawn up. It would be great to see a race back at Imola, but equally sad to see Monza disappear albeit for one year at a time. The Imola circuit already holds a world superbike race, which utilises the variante bassa in its configuration.