Bernie Ecclestone says F1 will return to Imola as host for the Italian Grand Prix in 2017 if a new deal with Monza cannot be reached.
The iconic high-speed circuit – which has hosted all-but-one Italian GP since 1950 - has been facing the axe for more than a year now as negotiations to extend its deal to beyond 2016 repeatedly stall over hosting fees and upgrade plans.
With this year's race less than three months away, though Ecclestone suggests the desire is to remain at Monza and is dependent on the national sporting authorities to intervene in order to meet contract terms, former San Marino Grand Prix host Imola is waiting in the wings if necessary.
“We need to rely little bit on the national sporting authorities in the country to support, so if it doesn't happen in Monza they want to support it then we'll be in Imola. I hope it's sorted out. It's up to their national sporting authority to decide.”
Remarking that Imola's facilities are being improved with a view to luring F1, he wouldn't reveal if Monza had a deadline to firm a deal.
“At the moment I don't know, I really don't know [what the chances are of Monza slipping off calendar]. They know when it [deadline] is in order to be on the calendar.
With the Brazilian Grand Prix also now under threat as the Interlagos venue struggles to complete renovation works in the wake of financial and political strife nationally, Ecclestone revealed there are ongoing talks with Argentina to replace it as the Latin American venue.
“I think the chances are that it [Brazilian GP] won't happen next year,” he said. “We are talking to them all the time. We can ever race there where they suggest and it's not where we want to be, we want to be in the main part.”
This is likely to be a reference to Ecclestone's desire to revive the inner-city circuit in the capital Buenos Aires, which hosted F1 until 1998, in a similar vein to that of Mexico, which successfully returned to the schedule last year after an absence of 23 years. As it stands, Argentina's only international circuit is the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit located in the north-west the country, which currently hosts MotoGP.