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Bernie Ecclestone

Ecclestone says high chance of Monza axe

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Bernie Ecclestone has admitted hopes of rescuing the endangered Italian grand prix at fabled Monza are now slipping away.

Optimism had risen recently, as crucial tax exemptions finally passed through parliament and officials sounded hopeful their campaign to keep the popular circuit on the calendar had succeeded.

But F1 supremo Ecclestone applied the brakes when speaking at Spa-Francorchamps, explaining: “I don’t know what the situation is in Monza now.

“I have some meetings there in September, so we’ll see what happens. I hope we don’t lose this track, but the chance of it happening now is very high,” he is quoted by UOL’s Grande Premio.

Ecclestone confirmed that the main stumbling block to a new deal is negotiations over the commercial terms.

“We cannot make exceptions,” he said. “The conditions are the same for Monza and any other circuit on the calendar.”

Where Ecclestone is apparently prepared to make an exception is on key television broadcast deals, amid reports the new contract with Germany’s RTL is for half the money paid previously by the broadcaster.

And he said at Spa-Francorchamps that he does not want to lose the BBC, the free-to-air complement to Sky’s subscriber-based coverage in Britain.

“We’re not interested in the money,” said Ecclestone, “we are interested in entertaining the public and doing a service. That’s what we are here for.”

And unlike Monza, Ecclestone is more hopeful about the future of the German grand prix, which was absent in 2015 but set to return with a race at Hockenheim next year.

“I have not seen much interest from the people at the Nurburgring, but they are not racing people,” said the 84-year-old Briton.

“Hockenheim are (racing people), but I have no idea what will happen. We have a contract with Hockenheim until 2018, we’ll see what happens.” (GMM)

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