MONZA – Monza’s “Temple of Speed” was missing some familiar columns this season, with 10,000 trees in the former royal park brought down by a July storm. But the Italian Grand Prix circuit is planning a facelift as contract talks gear up to keep it on the calendar.
A €30 million (S$43.9 million) first phase of works will take place over the winter, with the track resurfaced for the 2024 Formula One race and access tunnels widened to keep spectators and vehicles apart.
A second phase costing around €40 million will see a new Paddock Club hospitality and some of the 30-year-old grandstands replaced with modern ones.
“Monza needs to have a new deal signed by the end of the year,” Italian Automobile Club president Angelo Sticchi Damiani said in his circuit office.
“We’ve had meetings to try and get talks going. The first thing is the works. Formula One naturally expects improvements,” he said.
“(Formula One chief executive) Stefano Domenicali knows that the works will be done in the winter of 2023 and spring of 2024. If we don’t do the works, the grand prix won’t happen.”
Monza has a deal to 2025 while Imola, Italy’s other round of the world championship, has an agreement to run until 2026 to recoup the race that was cancelled this season due to flooding.
Both circuits are among the most atmospheric and evocative in the sport, tinged also with tragedy, but a far cry from the lavish and well-appointed modern circuits of the Middle East and North America.
“The history of Monza is beyond question but we also need to keep up with the times in terms of services, which must be in line with the prices paid by those who come to the race track,” Domenicali said last week.
Damiani recognised that Monza and Imola were unlikely to get new deals on the same terms as before, with both among those paying least in fees, and state and regional support would be crucial.
“We think this year we won’t draw even,” he said of Imola.
“So the idea of increasing our losses to cover the increase in the fee, we cannot contemplate that. It’s clear that government intervention will be needed on the model for Imola.
“It’s not just a question of image, of sporting passion. It also makes a very important contribution every year to the region to justify the government investment.”
The Italian Grand Prix and Britain are the two races on the Formula One calendar that have been held every year since the world championship started in 1950.
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