Imola open to hosting Grand Prix behind closed gates

Imola circuit has offered to host a Grand Prix behind closed doors as soon as Italy lifts its lockdown measures.

In February, after the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, Imola circuit – which holds an FIA Grade One license – submitted a tentative application to replace the event in Shanghai.

But that offer was quickly dismissed amid the massive surge of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy.

Located in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, close to the cluster of COVID-19 outbreaks that led to the area’s high death toll, Imola hardly seems like an ideal venue for a public event, even one held behind closed doors.

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But the track’s president believes the current crisis offers an opportunity to put the circuit back on F1’s map.

“This situation is an opportunity for us to be a candidate for a grand prix this season,” Selvatico Estense told Motorsport.com.

“They need some races in order to maintain the contract with the FIA and have a world championship, so why not think about Imola?

“Obviously it depends also on the government rules, if they will allow us to run such a race.

“Of course we’ll offer the track for free, and then talk about costs on our side if possible. We can ask the region for some help. We’re not in the situation where we can pay a promoter’s fee.

“It’s much easier without spectators, we don’t have to take care of the grandstands, we don’t have to take care of things like VIP hospitality and so on.

“For sure it will be cheaper than a complete organisation. People are already thinking about running football games with closed doors.”

Estense’s plan, which would first require the approval of the ACI, Italy’s sanctioning body, could involve a race scheduled right after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza which is set to take place on September 3.

“Maybe it could be easier to organise a back-to-back race with Monza, in order to save money or save time for the teams,” the Imola boss suggested.

“But last year we even had nice weather in October, and also the first half of November. So we’re not scared about the weather.

“I think people would like to go back to Imola. It’s a dream for us, but we’re still dreaming!”

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