Historic F1 race under threat of calendar axe with firm warning issued

Oliver Harden
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc looking tense.

F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali has issued a firm warning to the organisers of the Italian Grand Prix, claiming the race “must keep pace with the times” if it is to remain on the calendar.

Italy’s place on the schedule has long been a hot topic, with the current contracts for the races at Imola and Monza lasting until the end of the 2025 season.

Last month, Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club, indicated a new five-year arrangement for both the Emilia Romagna and Italian grands prix were close to completion.

F1 in Italy at risk once again

However, former Ferrari team principal Domenicali has revealed that the Italian federation are yet to meet F1’s demands – including track resurfacing and the building of a new underpass – for an extension, with construction work at Monza scheduled to begin after September’s Italian Grand Prix delayed.

He told Italian radio station Rai: “I am in good contact with the motorsport federation in Italy. We are negotiating, but we need elements to carry this negotiation forward.

“The work at Monza was supposed to start after the grand prix and still hasn’t started in December. It should now start in the near future.

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“My push is a constructive push, we must keep pace with the times.

“It’s all about understanding the desire to invest in F1 as a racing platform. Entertainment and business can no longer be on a private level. It is our country that must make a precise choice.”

Imola made a surprise return to the calendar during the pandemic-affected 2020 season, with F1 returning to the former San Marino GP venue for the first time since 2006.

The track has remained on the schedule ever since, but the 2023 race was cancelled just two days before opening practice after deadly storms hit the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Domenicali, who was born in Imola, is excited about the return of the race to the calendar in a record-breaking 24-race season in 2024.

He said: “In 2020, Imola had an extraordinary opportunity and were ready for the unexpected call.

“The flood tragedy didn’t allow us to race there this season, so we can’t wait to race there again.”

The Emilia Romagna race is set to take place on May 19 next year with the Monza round pencilled in for September 1, seven days after the F1 season resumes after the summer break at Zandvoort.

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