Formula One veteran Patrick Tambay has countered Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that Monaco would be no loss to Formula One should he have to make room on the calendar for new venues.
Although few take Ecclestone's recent claim at face value, believing the FOM supremo to be indulging in a little 'sabre-rattling' in an effort to get the Principality to stump up for its annual showpiece, Tambay insists that losing Monaco would have a major impact on F1.
Despite Monaco having enjoyed an unbroken run on the schedule since 1955, Ecclestone this week suggested that, along with some other European venues, it would need to raise its game financially to be able to compete with the countries eager to join the fray. Monaco is understood not to pay an annual fee to host its race, while other venues - such as Hockenheim - are struggling to raise the money to meet Ecclestone's demands.
"The Europeans are going to have to pay more money or we will have to go somewhere else," he told Britain's Independent
newspaper, "We can do without Monaco [if] they don't pay enough."
Tambay, however, told French radio station RMC
that dropping Monaco would be a dangerous move.
“It is the highlight of the season and the grand prix with which partners and sponsors from around the world want to be involved,” the 61-year old two-time GP winner pointed out, “There are things that probably need to be put straight,, and there are clearly plenty of candidates who want to organise new grands prix, while the others pay fees that may need to be revised upwards, but all of this is a matter of negotiations that Bernie Ecclestone is currently conducting with the Automobile Club de Monaco.”
Meanwhile, the ACM, which organise the Monaco Grand Prix, responded to Ecclestone's suggestion with a brief statement confirming that it was in talks with the sport's commercial rights holder.
“The Automobile Club of Monaco does not wish to comment on the statement given by Mr Ecclestone relating to the future of the Monaco Grand Prix F1,” the missive began.
“Assuming that this information has been verified with Mr Ecclestone by the media which published it, one should not even interpret the context and spirit of the statement.
“The reality is much simpler: a negotiation is ongoing between the Automobile Club de Monaco and Formula One Management.
“In time, the Automobile Club will not fail to communicate from the signing of an agreement.”
India is due to join the F1 schedule next season, with the USA and Russia both being tipped as future additions to a calendar that Ecclestone has said could expand to 20 races, but not much further.