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Bernie sows doubt on Monza's F1 future

2014-07-02 08:25

ANOTHER WIN FOR RED BULL: This was the Mona podium in 2013 - and Bernie was getting tired of the track. Image: AFP


LONDON, England - Monza, home of the Italian Formula 1 GP since the first championship in 1950, could be dropped from the calendar after 2016.

The sport's 83-year-old commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, being tried for bribery charges in Germany, told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Tuesday "the race's future is in doubt".

"Not good," Ecclestone said when asked about contract renewal. "I don't think we'll do another contract, the old one was a disaster for us from the commercial point of view. After 2016, bye bye..."


Ecclestone had previously threatened races as part of a bargaining procedure, notably with Silverstone before renovations were done and a long-term deal agreed, but he has also followed through. The French GP has been absent since 2008 and Austria, a popular fixture with a circuit now owned by Red Bull, returned to the calendar only in 2014 season after an 11-year break.

Ferrari-owned Mugello has been mooted as a possible future venue for an Italian GP but Ecclestone said he had yet to receive any proposal from Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo.

Monza, known as the temple of Italian motorsport and in a former royal park just outside Milan, has hosted the country's GP in every year since 1950 with the sole exception of 1980 when Imola was host. The circuit is the fastest on the calendar - and one of the most atmospheric, though the forest blocks much of the view.

Along with Monaco, Spa and Silverstone, it holds a special place in the affection of F1 fans because of its links with the sport's history and great names of the past.

Ecclestone said TV audiences were lower in Italy than elsewhere, with Ferrari's poor recent performances partly to blame. "If Ferrari began to finish first and second in qualifying and the race... the audiences would go up everywhere. Ferrari is a global passion."


Ecclestone, involved in F1 since the 1950's and former owner of Brabham team, said the sport had become too clinical with drivers' personalities stifled and rules restricting their driving and he turned to his personal hate - the quieter V6 turbo engines.

He'd also be happy for struggling smaller teams to leave the sport.

"They should stop," he said. "If they do not have the money, they should close. I am ready for a F1 with eight teams of three cars each. Is it better to see a third Ferrari or a Caterham? Ferrari might find new sponsors in America and an American driver. Great. The same for the others.

"Let's take Caterham: it has invested a load of money, is going to need a load more, but what for if the team has never been competitive?"


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