Last week’s news that FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone has turned down Rome’s application to host a Grand Prix seems to have put and end to that story.
However looking through the Gazetta dello Sport at the weekend, I notice that they published in full Ecclestone’s letter to Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome in which he says,
The last line is interesting. I asked around in Italy this morning about how serious a suggestion this is and the feeling is seems to be that this is a more polite way of saying “no” than just saying “no”, after quite a bit of work had gone on in Rome.
Monza has the contract for the Italian Grand Prix until 2016, does not have the financial problems other venues are facing and is considered highly unlikely to want to alternate with Rome. Sources in Italy suggest that the funding was there to do the Rome Grand Prix.
Ecclestone makes it clear in his letter that 20 races is the new maximum and he does not have the support from the teams for two races in one country, although intriguingly he does say FOM and the teams are looking to a future, “with more events in the USA, which being a large country is acceptable.”
This certainly suggests that he is not stopping at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas and wants another race Stateside.
Meanwhile Ferrari has not been in favour of the Rome Grand Prix all along. It is important to keep in mind, when considering this situation, the fact that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is building up his political presence in Italy and Alemanno is aligned with Silvio Berlusconi, very much on the other side of the political coin from Montezemolo.
Monzezemolo said this weekend, “The teams’ view is not to exceed a certain number of races per year: already the season goes on forever.
“The preference is to have Grands Prix in new countries in important markets, first off in the United States, rather than have two races in Germany, Spain, or eventually Italy.”
Photo: Darren Heath