Saturday, March 28, 2009

La Dolce Vita - F1A Grand Prix in Rome

 reports Rome is working with motorsport's ruling body FIA on the possibility of a Grand Prix through Rome's famous streets. Sports Councillor Alessandro Cochi says ''there are very frequent contacts and visits by FIA officials and the possibility of running a Grand Prix in Rome in 2012 is ever more feasible.''

The news significantly raises Rome's chances of setting up a one-off GP, experts said, after previous reports that FIA chief Max Mosley was cool about the project.

Last week Ferrari boss Luca Cordero de Montezemolo said he, too, was warming to the plan after early misgivings.

Montezemolo spoke about ways of inserting the GP into the F1 calendar, if only as a one-off event.

''If the Rome Grand Prix comes off then Ferrari will prepare in the best way possible, starting to get acquainted with the EUR (district) because it will want to come first,'' he said.

The Mussolini-era district in southern Rome, a backdrop to several films, is lined up as the venue of the GP, which a group of Roman financiers plans to set up by 2012.

As well as being Ferrari boss, Montezemolo is head of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) which was created last season to give constructors a single voice in negotiating the future of the sport with ruling body FIA and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Group (FOG), which controls the commercial rights.

Ecclestone has already given his backing to the Rome Grand Prix plan despite Mosley's reported frostiness.

At a FOTA meeting in Geneva last week, Montezemolo spoke to Ecclestone about the feasibility of the plan.

''I've spoken to Bernie and if, as it appears, the costs can be totally borne by private investors, I think it would be interesting to make an in-depth assessment of its feasibility,'' Montezemolo said.

''We will have to see how to include it in the F1 calendar, because there are many emerging countries that would like to host a world championship race''.

Montezemolo reiterated that a Grand Prix in Rome should not clash or compete with the Italian GP at Monza.

The Ferrari boss's newfound enthusiasm came three days after Renault boss Flavio Briatore said a Rome GP would be ''a fantastic idea''.

Briatore said racing around the historic EUR area would be ''spectacular, like all city circuits''.

Enthusiasts point out that overtaking would be possible there unlike other new street circuits like Valencia and Singapore.


The city is ''serious'' about the project, Mayor Gianni Alemanno said recently.

But Alemanno acknowledged that it would not be easy to set up the event given the technical difficulties and opposition in many quarters.

''The negotiations are complicated, almost as complicated as organising an Olympic Games,'' he told journalists, without going into details.

The group of Italian investors and racing enthusiasts, FG Group, was formally set up on January 29.

FG has already met with Hermann Tilke, considered the world's greatest designer of new-generation race tracks.

According to the Italian media, the group plans to outdo the historic Monaco Grand Prix.

FG chief Maurizio Flammini, a Rome businessman who already organises the world Superbike championship, is insistent that the event should not be a one-off but should run ''for at least four years''.

He stressed that the race would have ''a format different from all the other events'' and would create thousands of jobs for Rome.

The group has assured Monza executives its plan would not threaten the Italian GP, one of the oldest events on the motor racing calendar, first run in 1921.

The idea of staging a Grand Prix in Rome was first aired in the mid-1980s by the great Enzo Ferrari.

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