Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has said an agreement is in place for Imola to stage a race in the motor racing series, but added the Italian Grand Prix is still likely to remain at Monza.
Imola has not appeared on the Formula One calendar since the 2006 season, when it hosted its 26th grand prix since 1980. The future of the Italian GP has been the subject of much talk in recent months, with no deal in place for Monza beyond the 2016 event on September 2-4.
Monza has staged every edition of Italy’s round of the F1 world championship since the series’ formation in 1950, with the exception of the 1980 event, which was held at Imola. The Emilia-Romagna town’s Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari last hosted Formula One in the shape of the San Marino Grand Prix in 2006, before circuit redevelopment took place the following year.
Ecclestone told the Autosport website that the support of Angelo Sticchi Damiani, president of Italian motorsport’s governing body the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI), for Monza means the race is unlikely to change venue, even if the series signs its proposed agreement with Imola.
“We've now an agreement (with Imola) there that’s ready to go,” Ecclestone said. “But we've a guy there that's saying ‘Either we do things my way, or not at all’, so when people say that you know what the answer is going to be.
“He must do what he thinks is the right thing to do, and if we don't have a race in Italy it won't be because of me. He (Sticchi) has a contract, and all that is required is a signature. As I've said before, he has to get a pen and sign. They’re good deals for them. They can please themselves. And wherever we race, be it Imola or Monza, it needs to be sanctioned by him anyway, whatever you call it.”
Sticchi Damiani remains confident about the future of a Monza race. He told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that any existing issues between the local authorities and Formula One have now been solved.
He added: “We have finally solved all the problems there were with the territorial entities – the region (of Lombardy), the cities of Milan and Monza, and the Park Authority.
“We have found an agreement between ACI Milan and SIAS (which owns Monza through the ACI), and we are preparing a binding offer to be sent to FOM (Formula One Management). At this point there are no more political problems.”