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Imola has agreement to host Italian Grand Prix

NEWS STORY
18/07/2016

As negotiations between Bernie Ecclestone and Monza drag on (and on, and on), fears for the future of the Italian Grand Prix continue.

This being the final year of the current deal, it is essential that plans for 2017 and beyond are finalised as soon as possible.

Ecclestone insists that it is SIAS, the Societa Incremento Automobilismo e Sport, which operates the track, and the Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI), which has prevented a final deal being agreed, the Briton wearily admitting: "It's become very political. They'll get on with it. Or not. There's nothing we can do about it."

"There's no deadline," he subsequently added. "They can take as long as they like, provided it's by the end of this month."

That was in February.

In recent months, with no agreement and the final deadline long passed, Imola, which hosted the Italian Grand Prix in 1980 and the San Marino Grand Prix on 26 occasions, entered the frame.

However, the president of the ACI, Angelo Sticchi Damiani, ruled out Imola, insisting that state funding for the Italian Grand Prix was legally committed to Monza.

"In Italian financial law it is written that the grand prix should be Monza, not Imola," he said. "The involvement of the Automobile Club of Italy, who is involved directly in the running of the grand prix starting next year, is for an Italian Grand Prix running in Monza, not in Imola. This is a new law, a financial law, that was approved at the beginning of the year."

Admitting that the negotiations have been challenging, he said: "Let's say it is difficult. It is the first time in Italy that it takes a burden to organise a Formula One grand prix with significant funds. The fact that ACI is replacing the Automobile Club Milan - which is organising the grand prix this year - is of course a revolution, a quite relevant one. Thanks to the support of the Lombardy regional authority, and hopefully also thanks to a national sponsor - although these have to be defined in the details - thanks to these supports, we managed to begin negotiations in February.

"We found many common points with Ecclestone," he added, referring to talks held with the F1 supremo in Monaco. "There are things that still have to be defined, but I dare say we are very close to an agreement despite some actions which have not helped the negotiations. Quite the opposite, it has made it difficult."

Pressure on the legendary Italian circuit has now been ramped up, with Formula Imola president Uberto Selvatico Estense, revealing that agreement for Imola to host the Grand Prix from 2017 has been reached with Ecclestone, pending approval from the ACI, following talks held over the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone.

"Bernie knows that we are available," Selvatico Estense told Motorsport.com. "He sent us a proposal that we signed and sent back to him.

"We will be very happy to have F1 back in Imola," he continued. "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."

Selvatico Estense claims the move has the full support of the regional government.

"Stefano Bonaccini, the president of the region Emilia-Romagna, is supporting us," he said. "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."

"I think we don't have too much time to decide," he admitted. "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.

"We restructured the company several years ago," he added, referring to Imola's financial state of health, "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."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by F One, 20/07/2016 18:34

"Imola is a turgid circuit. Monza or nothing."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Speedbump, 19/07/2016 1:44

"Never seen any other sport with as many blatant payoffs and palm greasing as Formula One. It's just become a cash cow for the powers that be in any given host country to fill their, and Bernie's pockets with tax dollars.
OK, maybe the Olympics too."

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3. Posted by Paul C, 18/07/2016 15:15

"If they keep the Italian GP in Monza, run the European GP in EUROPE (Imola). No more European GP races outside of Europe like Baku (?)."

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4. Posted by Ro, 18/07/2016 14:00

"Sorry, but something is wrong here....you have a law that stops anyone from hosting the GP, then you dont pay your dues and BE and FOM just has to bend over and agree?? It may be written in law, but it isnt lawful do do it. Only the Italians! Ho hum, we could hold an F1 race on the M25......"

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