F1 must keep popular venues like Monza – drivers

2014 F1 season

Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Monza, 2013Formula One drivers say Monza should keep its place on the calendar because it is a popular, historic and unique venue.

The home of the Italian Grand Prix has a deal to remain on the F1 calendar until 2016. But Bernie Ecclestone said this week its contract may not be renewed.

Lewis Hamilton pointed out the Monza race is regularly well-attended while others struggle to draw a crowd.

“I think it’s important just not to forget that the sport wouldn’t really exist if it wasn’t for the fans,” he said in the press conference at the British Grand Prix. “Obviously there’s certain business decisions people make but there’s tracks we’ve been to where there’s been no one in the grandstands.”

“There’s a few particularly where they’re very, very special like in Monza where the circuit’s just full of fans and it really does make the event. So I think it’s really important that we try and keep that in the sport.”

Felipe Massa, who drove for Italian fan favourites Ferrari for the past eight years, said losing Monza would be bad for the sport.

“Monza is a fantastic place, great fans, so for sure if we’re not racing Monza any more it will be not good for Formula One,” he said.

“We need to go to places that people really love Formula One racing, like Silverstone. If we lose Silverstone it will be negative for all of us. So I hope we keep going to Monza for many, many years.”

Jenson Button added the Italian circuit is “an iconic race track, one of the old-school tracks”.

“There’s so much history,” he added. “The fans absolutely love the sport, they’ll do anything for the sport.”

“They’re not going to be there to support us, they’re there to support a certain team, but that’s great to see, it’s nice to see their passion, they’re patriotic.

“And the circuit’s fun to drive. It’s a very unique circuit, it’s very different to any other circuit, very low downforce circuit. Always throws up a good race, so it’ll be a shame not to see it on the calendar.”

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17 comments on F1 must keep popular venues like Monza – drivers

  1. TimmyA (@timmya) said on 3rd July 2014, 16:06

    I think the problem isn’t the contract its bernie. His time has come and past, he did what we needed for the sport and its time for him to leave before he screws it up any more.

  2. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd July 2014, 16:06

    At last…

    Maybe the reintroduction of the Austrian GP, in all its uniqueness and the crowded grandstands made an impact on the drivers. At last they are talking about what the fans want, what the sport should be…

    Sadly, money talks. But at least they are open about it and they all share the same opinion.

  3. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 3rd July 2014, 16:12

    There is absolutely no chance at all that Monza will be dropped. Bernie is just playing one of his senile little games to try and grab more money in a new contract.

    Having no race in Italy and losing a track like Monza just won’t happen.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd July 2014, 21:18

      @petebaldwin I agree. Last time Monza’s contract was up for renewal Ecclestone had the lever of a planned race in Rome to use against Monza. This time he has nothing, all he’s really said is ‘we got a bad deal last time around so this time were not having one’. As empty threats go, this one sounds particularly hollow.

  4. Kevin Robinson said on 3rd July 2014, 16:20

    I would love to see Bernie drop Monza after the contract is done. It would be the best thing he could do!

    Don’t you see? Him doing this would PROVE once and for all that he’s a liability to the sport and needs to be replaced. This would be the final nail in his coffin and we could finally get rid of him! As soon as he announces a calendar without Monza he’d be out, then Monza would be brought back immediately by his replacement.

    This would be a win-win for everyone!

  5. BJ (@beejis60) said on 3rd July 2014, 17:14

    It’s probably just a scare tactic. I believe he said exactly this last year, right around this time… something about how no track future is safe, not even monza.

  6. matiascasali (@matiascasali) said on 3rd July 2014, 17:14

    I hope that one of the demands to renew the contract is to give this circuit to the history-butcher Tilke! could you imagine?

  7. Ricardo Ferreira (@yes-master) said on 3rd July 2014, 17:15

    Ham: “I think it’s important just not to forget that the sport wouldn’t really exist if it wasn’t for the fans.”
    I agree 100% with Ham. With that said, I believe there’s no need to comment another “Bernie’s statement”. By the way, in the future, to mark a stupid statement, I’ll just say: oh, look, it’s a “Bernie’s Statement”!

  8. Klon (@klon) said on 3rd July 2014, 17:58

    The uniqueness is a fair point, we already have enough 5.5 km tracks of average speed on the calendar as it is, so losing one that breaks the mold would be a big disappointment.

    However, tradition is honestly overrated in track selection. I have come to prefer tracks to be selected on their value to F1 and motorsport in general – I am obviously not talking about monetal value here, but instead the quality of racing and the uniqueness of the track. I mean, look at Silverstone, traditional as everything, but if you look at the last 20 years, the races worth remembering (in a good sense, looking at you 2012 and 2013) you can count on one hand.

    Furthermore it’s, especially since the changes in 1987 and 1991, basically the prototype for Tilkedromes, so the only reason it even is on the calendar is because nobody else in the UK can pick up the slack and F1 cannot really go without a British GP because almost all the teams are there.

    So yeah, I would be extremely disappointed if Monza stopped being a part of F1, but getting stuck on tradition too much does not help anybody.

  9. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 3rd July 2014, 18:52

    Bernie has left both Spa and Montreal off of the calendar in recent years, don’t think for a moment he is going to be swayed by the awesome atmosphere the fans create at the Italian GP or the amazing circuit that is Monza. Dropping the race would be a sin, but he has already committed a few so I doubt he would be too bothered if he axed Monza.

  10. rsp123 (@rsp123) said on 3rd July 2014, 19:11

    So not only do we now have to pay quite a bit extra just to watch F1 on the TV (in many countries), but part of the very appeal of F1 – its tradition and history – is being scrapped too, just because some billionaires want yet more cash. I am astonished that the big teams (Ferrari excepted – they have a special deal) and the major sponsors are willing to put up with this.

    Instead we hear about daft measures that are supposed to make the racing more exciting – double points, standing restarts, bows and lollipops – while several teams are near to folding and some circuits, as Lewis Hamilton says, are almost completely empty for most of the race weekend.

    The people running F1 – commercially and in the FIA – appear to be so out of touch with reality (and so into stuffing their pockets) they make British politicians look decent and effective.

    And they wonder why viewing figures are dropping.

  11. Peter Hunter (@holdenv8) said on 3rd July 2014, 20:56

    Unfortunately in the past 30 or so years, what tracks do and do not get Formula One races is more often not dictated by how much money they pay Scrooge McBernie. And the former owner of the Brabham team has a publicly known habit of saying a certain track (in this particular case Monza) may not get their upcoming contract renewed in order to milk more money from them.

    As we all know, F1 in recent years has been going to a lot of places where its obvious that the only reason they got a race in the first place was because some billionaire(s) have paid big money to host a race. I mean, how many times have we seen races in China, Bahrain, Abu Dabi, Korea, Malaysia and India where even on the television you could just about count the number of spectators and be close to the actual figure? How many grandstands do we see half full or even completely empty (especially China for that one). Yet whenever a race is held in a traditional country such as England, Italy, Monaco, Belgium, Germany, and the recently returned Austria, the stands are packed, even for practice and qualifying. Yet it is always these places which get threatened with having no race.

    I know Formula One is a big business and it makes more money than you can poke a stick at. But from a fans point of view I would much rather see races where the stands are packed and where every vantage point is full of spectators than I would where the amount of people in the paddock outnumber paying spectators. At Monza this would never be a problem (unless Ferrari ever decide to pull out of F1)

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