Monza’s hopes of staying on the Formula One calendar after 2016 have risen after a weekend that left no doubt about the historic Italian circuit’s importance to drivers, fans and the very fabric of the sport.
“We’ll get something done, I’m sure,” Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters after talks with race organisers and politicians, including Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Roberto Maroni, president of the Lombardy region, said he was 99.9% sure a deal would be done by the end of the year while Renzi also sounded optimistic.
“If the government is needed, we’ll be there,” the Gazzetta dello Sport quoted the premier as saying after a brief meeting with Ecclestone. There are still hurdles to overcome, with Ecclestone making clear previously that Monza could expect no cut-price deals, but local officials were making positive noises about that too.
“I’m sure that the money will be found,” said Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago. If anyone had any lingering doubts about the circuit’s importance, they needed only look at the hordes of Ferrari fans flooding the track after Sunday’s race. “If we take this away from the calendar for any shitty money reasons I think you are basically ripping our hearts out,” said four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel after finishing second for Ferrari.
“It’s what we’re here for. You stand on the grid, you look to the left, you look to the right, people are just happy to be part of it and it makes our day,” said Vettel. World champion and race winner Lewis Hamilton agreed, even if the crowd would rather not have seen the Mercedes driver on the top step.
“This is one of the best tracks in the world. This has to stay here for moral reasons,” said the Briton. “We definitely have to keep this.” Brazilian Felipe Massa, third for Williams and a former Ferrari driver, said the circuit — on the calendar every year bar one since the first world championship in 1950 — had to remain a part of Formula One’s future as well as its past.
“We race for the people and when you see the podium with a lot of people like that and they’re screaming and crying, I don’t think we can lose that,” he said. “This is part of our blood and we cannot lose this type of races.” Red Bull principal Christian Horner, one of Ferrari’s fiercest rivals, said Ecclestone had to maintain a position and did not make threats lightly.
“But hopefully a deal can be done to make sure it does stay on the calendar because it is part of the heritage, he added.