Could Imola be coming back to the F1 Grid?
The track was formerly home to the San Marino Grand Prix, which was last held in 2006 and won by Michael Schumacher.
Daniele Manca, the mayor of Imola, met with F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone over the weekend to discuss the return of the F1 Grand Prix to the track.
The San Marino Grand Prix, held at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in the Italian town, was last raced in 2006. That race was won by Michael Schumacher, driving for Ferrari alongside Felipe Massa. It was not named the Italian Grand Prix due to the existing GP at Monza, which is where it continues to be held under the Italian Grand Prix banner.
Ecclestone held a meeting with F1 top brass and several circuit officials at Imola to discuss the possibility of reinstituting Imola as the Italian Grand Prix – which it only hosted once, in 1980 due to the fact that the track at Monza was being renovated. This comes following news last month that talks had fallen through with Monza officials, who Ecclestone had said must pay the same amount as other tracks to host the Italian Grand Prix. Monza officials have a 10million euro deficit to meet the amount Ecclestone is asking, which leaves the future of the track in jeopardy unless it can raise funding from national authorities or private investors.
“It’s a very simple situation,” Bernie Ecclestone told reporters in Bahrain following the Grand Prix there earlier this year. “Two years ago I made a deal with one of the people who are no longer involved. “We applied the same economic conditions as the other European circuits. 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,” Ecclestone confirmed. “Yes, Monza is part of F1 history but they must pay.”
The track has been marred by tragedy in the past, with two F1 drivers perishing at the track in 1994 – The greatest F1 driver of all time, Ayrton Senna among them. Roland Ratzenberger perished during qualifying at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, but his death was largely overshadowed by that of Senna’s, who was in fact planning to commemorate Austrian Ratzenberger at the end of the race.
News has now emerged that Imola is looking to take over and host the Italian Grand Prix again. If the deal comes to fruition at this point, audiences could see the track back on the Formula One Grid by 2017 – but the lack of funds at Monza may mean there is no Italian Grand Prix this year and next.