Monza in jeopardy as Italian senate rejects bailout plan
Monza, for those unfamiliar, is arguably Italy's premier racing circuit, and one of the fastest on the Formula One calendar. Located just north of Milan, the circuit first opened way back in 1922, when it hosted the second Italian Grand Prix. It's been home to the F1 race every year since 1949 (with the exception of the 1980 championship when it was held at Imola) and has hosted numerous other racing series over its many decades in operation. It has also tragically claimed the lives of many drivers and riders over the years, most notable among them Alberto Ascari, Count Wolfgang von Trips, Jochen Rindt and Ronnie Peterson.
The circuit is jointly owned by the municipal governments of the nearby cities of Monza and Milan, which lately have proven unable to keep it afloat. The government of the Lombardy Region in which the cities and the circuit are situated had a plan to invest some 20 million euros to revitalize the complex, but the plan hinged on that investment being exempt from taxes – a plan which the Italian senate has now rejected.
Beyond what the collapse of the bailout plan means for the future of the circuit itself, the setback could also spell bad news for the future Italian Grand Prix as well. The race organizers have a contract with Bernie Ecclestone only through the end of 2016, after which it will presumably come up for renegotiation. Without the necessary funds to organize the race and keep the track up to spec, it seems unlikely that the grand prix will stay at Monza.
At that point the Italian Grand Prix could be removed from the calendar for the first time since the inception of the modern Formula One World Championship, which might seem unthinkable, but then other "essential" races like those in France and Belgium have come and gone from the calendar and the series has still raced on. Otherwise the race could be switched to another circuit, and Italy has plenty to choose from: the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola hosted the twenty-seven F1 races, and circuits like Mugello, Misano and Vallelunga could all be up to the task as well. There were also proposals fielded five or so years ago to hold an F1 race on the streets of Rome, an idea whose time may just come at Monza's expense.
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