Monza: Is it the name, the track or the money that matters?

9

Certainly when it comes to the privilege of hosting a Formula 1 race, money speaks louder than any other element in the equation. Sure, some compromise can be reached and haggling can ensue when determining the figure to be paid and factors such as history and fan attraction as well as the quality of the circuit and facilities all can play a role in the bartering process.

Silverstone, Spa Francorchamps, Monaco and Monza all resonate with F1 fans more deeply than most. That’s not to say that other circuit don’t, it’s just that these are patented must-have’s on most fans list.

To those ends, the talk of losing Monza after this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix is truly a sad story. Teams such as Ferrari get additional revenue for being what is known as a Historic team bonus from Formula One Management’s annual prize fund. Perhaps these four circuits feel they are due some deference for very similar reasons.

I would endorse that notion as I feel these are circuits that must stay on the calendar if F1 wants to continue in a healthy fashion and grow. FOM may feel completely different if the circuit is only willing to pay a stipend of what other circuits pay due to their history and brand being what they are—be it overrated or not.

Former F1 driver, Damon hill feels losing Monza would be a very bad move as well:

“When people want grands prix outside of new territories, let’s say, they want it because of what they’ve seen at the grass roots of the sport, and the history of the sport,” the former world champion told Sky Sports.

“Monza is a very famous name, it means grand prix racing. If you lose that, it’d be like losing Indianapolis.

“Indianapolis, Le Mans…all these places mean motorsport and I think that Formula 1 would be very, very unwise to lose a venue like Monza.”

It brings up a question about the name and history of the circuit. Indianapolis is a good example. I’ve been there many times and it still is an epic vision for an oval, of which I am not a huge fan of for any form of motorsport, and it does mean speed, history and grand scope in its impact on motorsport—in short, a large brand that transcends most others.

Equally Silverstone, Spa and Monza all cast a long shadow over other circuits that are on the current calendar. A long history steeped in racing, a strong brand, a quality facility and major fan appeal all make for a legacy in motorsport circuit lore.

For me, it is also relatively obvious that fans aren’t simply about the brand or history but the actual circuit layout and the kind of racing it produces. There is little doubt that the rash of Herman Tilke designed circuits since 2000 have left many fans cold in their homogenized layout and short length as well as the obligatory “mickey Mouse section” that they call the stadium section. I have not many fans that anxiously sit in the stadium section at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) rather they seek turns one through 11 as the proper place to see the cars really do their thing. My conversation with track boss Bobby Epstein revealed that he would re-profile that entire section and even wanted to do some banking at the double-apex turn that was supposed to mimic turn 8 in Turkey.

The imperfections of Spa make it universally perfect! The re-profiling of Silverstone has mixed reviews but the circuit still has some epic corners and terrific racing. Length, for me is also a key and while Monaco betrays that, Spa has it in spades. Fans like a sense of the drivers actually going somewhere when they race. Oddly Moncao may be short but the layout and elevation change gives a sense of going somewhere instead of the desperately dull Abu Dhabi circuit where money was no object and they could have profiled the land any way they wanted yet chose a skillet-flat track with neutered corners.

Monza straight 2013 c600

We also cannot forget the epic nature of Suzuka, which is right next to Spa as many of the driver’s favorite tracks to race on—even with the re-profiled 130R corner.

So what does garner a circuit as a must-have on the calendar? Of all the Tilke tracks, tragically Turkey was one of the best and it is now a used car lot. The theme here is that the old tracks are still the best and sure, perhaps some of that is nostalgia and history of the brand but in the end, even new F1 fans tell me that they love the old circuits the best.

Is Monza asking for too much concession on FOM’s part? Probably but they feel they have the brand and rank as a legend of the sport to do so. Australia, another terrific circuit, joins Canada in the incredible circuit category that could argue a historic participation discount from FOM too. Perhaps a commitment of contiguous years participating would see the normal escalator of 10% per year revers itself and work backwards to a determined level. Perhaps track-side advertising could be slowly given back to race promoters for their long-time support of hosting an F1 grand prix?

Monza banking old track c600

FOM isn’t in the business of giving their races away or making deep discounts for some and not others. Maximizing the profit for each unit sold is the business but perhaps the circuit owners association could participate in FOM’s prize money payout based on attendance and how aggressive they promoted the races. Just spit-balling here but you get the point.

Monza needs to stay and FOM need to find a way to allow it to stay. Period. While you’re at it, bring back Zolder and Kyalami too. And someone send Hockenheim back out into the woods (past Jim Clark’s memorial) and get the Ring sorted would you?

Hat Tip: Sky Sports

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

9 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

crf

I wouldn’t lose any sleep over Monaco…

Negative Camber

What about Spa or Suzuka? Would that keep you up and night? :)

FAB

the talk of losing Monza after this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix is truly a sad story…
I thought their Contract goes until the end of 2016…

Paul KieferJr

I could say the same about Watkins Glen’s old importance, but I think CotA here in Austin would give it a run for its money. ;-)

KMK90

I wish there was a GP at Watkins Glen again. Being a 5 hour drive away really helps that case.

xorpheous

“Is it the name, the track or the money that matters?” Yes, in order of increasing importance. The money does matter, and the question has to be, “How much money is being sunk into the Italian GP weekend?” I agree that some circuits deserve deference in similar fashion to Ferrari, and Monza is definitely one. In the retail world, you would call it a “loss-leader”. It’s the GP that you take a bit of a loss on to gain the ability to earn greater profit elsewhere. Why does everyone want to host a Formula 1 GP? Because of the history… Read more »

SurveyorTom

The priority order should be Track-Name-Money. Sadly it is the reverse of that. Money is (especially with the Bernie regime) the one factor which dominates totally all the others. If the money is there, everything else can be “made to work” – i.e. Baku. Name is of secondary importance at best, and then only because of its revenue generation (see Money above). Were this not true, the “naming rights” would have been sold to the highest bidder long since. Witness the fact that Monza, Spa, & Silverstone keep the same “studly” names, even though they have been gelded to some… Read more »

Junipero Mariano

Maybe Ferrari could use its trump card to do some good?

“Keep Monza or we’re out.”

I’m just throwin’ it out there…

GraemeD

I attended this years Italian GP at Monza. All I can say is that it is one special place. the history oozes out of every moss covered concrete seat along the circuit. The old banking is something to be experienced. it would be a shame to loose this venue from the F1 calendar. When the talk of it not continuing started earlier in the year, I decided I must go this year. I for one hope it continues, and I am not a traditionalist. Spa: check, Silverstone: check, Monza: check, now Monaco and Suzuka left.