The mayor of Rome has admitted that the city would remove its bid for an grand prix should motorsport's governing body decide that there should only be one race per country in coming seasons.
The Italian capital has been targeted for an F1 race from 2013, with the sport's ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone apparently keen to run through the streets of the historic city, but an increasing clamour to become a part of the F1 circus from countries new to the sport is already putting pressure on the calendar, with suggestions that the FIA will clamp down on the number of races being allocated to individual nations. Rumours already claims that the European Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia will make way for planned races in the USA and Russia - despite the ambitions of promoters in Mallorca - as Ecclestone and the governing body attempt to cap the schedule at 20 rounds.
Should it come to a head-to-head battle for the Italian round, Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno has admitted that the city would back down in favour of the historic Monza autodrome, which recently signed a five-year extension to its existing contract with Ecclestone, but admits that he can still see both venues making the calendar.
"If you come out as an alternative, and if there is a choice to be made between the two races, we will step back because it is right that the Italian GP remains at Monza," he told Italian television station RAI3
, "but we think that the two can co-exist."
"These are two different things - a circuit race and a race in town - and we think there is space for both events on the calendar. They will support one another and, indeed, could think of a single package covering both events. I think it is worth the effort because it would increase tourism and focus international attention on the whole of Italy."
While Alemanno insisted that opposition within the city was largely due to ignorance on behalf of sections of the population, especially in the EUR district that would play host to the race, his counterpart in Milan - the closest major city to Monza - was naturally happy with the concession that the current venue, which has hosted the Italian GP in an unbroken run since the inception of the world championship, needed to remain on the schedule.
"We appreciate the words of Alemanno, which highlights that, in the face of an alternative, Rome would step back in favour of Monza," council chairman Manfredi Palmeri said, "This intervention helps to bring clarity [to the situation] and should become a landmark in the debate and decisions. Now the burden of proof passes to those who believe there is the possibility of having both events in Italy."
The 2011 F1 calendar has already swollen to a biggest-ever 20 races, with several new venues waiting in the wings for future seasons. India joins the fray this season - following in the footsteps of Korea, Abu Dhabi and Valencia in recent years - with the USA due to return in 2012 and Russia pencilled in for 2014. The promoter of the prospective Rome race, however, insists that he has been told to press ahead with organising the event.
"I expect the first race to be in 2013," Maurizio Flammini told Il Riformista
during the Christmas period, "If the project would have been approved by the end of the year, we would have been ready for 2012. Everything is ready and the F1 circus is ready to welcome us. A few days ago, I spoke with Bernie Ecclestone and he asked me to go ahead. When we are ready, we will close the final agreement."