Italian GP: Monza agrees new three-year F1 deal

After a period of uncertainty, on Friday, Bernie Ecclestone announced that a contract had been agreed with the race organisers, keeping F1 at the home of the 'Tifosi' until at least 2019.

Italian GP: Monza agrees new three-year F1 deal
The Tifosi make their annual pilgrimage to Monza every year, to support their beloved Ferrari. (Image Credit:

It was unthinkable. That the Italian Grand Prix would be permanently moved from Formula One's spiritual home, Monza. The home of the 'Tifosi'. The home of the greatest team of them all. The team the Tifosi has always come to watch. The Scuderia Ferrari.

But it was a growing possibility that, for some would've been catastrophic. Poor Ferrari performances over recent years had led to a drop in attendance numbers, whilst simultaneously, FOM and Bernie Ecclestone were demanding a race fee that the track, situated in a Royal Park, north of Milan just couldn't afford.

After the 2015 race, it seemed that the track, where the greats of Motorsport had graced the hallowed tarmac, Tazio Nuvolari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari, Jim Clark, Gilles Villeneuve, Ayrton Senna and ​Michael Schumacher ​to name a few, would host its final race in 2016, at the expiration of its current deal.

Imola, previously the home of the San Marino GP, from 1981 to 2006, was being lined up to take over. Imola is a great circuit and legendary track, but it just isn't the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

​Agreement made

​Mid-way through FP2 on Friday afternoon, a press conference with Ecclestone, FIA President Jean Todt and ACI chief, Angelo Sticchi Damiani was held, where the F1 supremo declared that "​there is no problem having the race here. The contract will be for three years but I hope we are here for 100"​.

However, despite an agreement being made, Ecclestone told the gathered press that "​regretfully, legally we can't sign it here" adding "​we are going to sign it in London"​.

"​Everyone should be happy" ​he went on to say, "​we are keeping the race at Monza" Just "​all the small details"​ remain to be sorted before pen can be put to paper to secure F1 at Monza, until at least the 2019 season. Asked why it was just a three-year deal, Ecclestone, in his typical manner remarked "​We have to do an arrangement that suits everyone. The world changes so quick so who knows what is going to happen"​ concluded the 85 year-old.

A few months ago, there was strong speculation that Imola was all set to sign a deal with Ecclestone and FOM. The legal issues referred to in the press conference, could arise should Imola make a complaint.

​Why is Monza important?

​There have been 67 seasons of Formula One, counting this one. The Italian Grand Prix has been held at Monza on 66 occasions, counting this weekend. Only in 1980 was it moved, to Imola as Monza was undergoing renovation work, the legacy of Ronnie Peterson's ultimately fatal crash.

Alongside Great Britain, it is the only race to have appeared on every F1 calendar. Italy and Monza had to stay.

Echoes of the past are a constant at Monza. Down the pit-straight, to the right, there is now a disused segment of track. The old Monza banking. Last used in 1961, the eerie and legacy of a time when cars were front-engined and no such thing as safety.

That race, held on the 10th September was marred, when on lap two championship challenger Wolfgang von Trips' Ferrari made contact with Clark's Lotus, catapulting the car into the crowd, killing 15 fans as well as von Trips. In the most bittersweet circumstances, teammate Phil Hill ​then won the title, as no-one could catch the two Ferrari's.

17 years later, Mario Andretti and Peterson were in a similar situation, heading to Monza on September 10th, with the title up for grabs between them. On lap 1, a pile-up caused Peterson leg injuries which weren't life threatening, but complications set in and he died. The second American World Champion was crowned in exactly the same circumstances as the first.

The last time the fearsome Monza banking was used was in the tragic 1961 event, where von Trips and 15 fans were killed, (Image Credit:
The last time the fearsome Monza banking was used was in the tragic 1961 event, where von Trips and 15 fans were killed, (Image Credit:

Sadly, in September 1970, Jochen Rindt, leading the world championship crashed under braking at the Parabolica, causing fatal throat injuries. He would never know that he would become the 1970 Formula One World Champion - the only posthumous title winner.

Monza 1971. The closet finish in F1 history took place. In the era before the chicanes were added, the race would be a guaranteed slipstream fest. Peter Gethin crossed the line first, having been fourth at the final corner, by 0.001 to edge out Peterson in his March. The top five were covered by 0.61.

As Sebastian Vettel put it last year after finishing second, "Monza has to stay on the calendar, because it means more than just cash. It means history, tradition, racing, enthusiasm. Ferrari."