Imola open to hosting closed-door F1 races if safe to do so

Imola president Uberto Selvatico Estense says the circuit is willing to host a Formula 1 race behind closed doors, should conditions in coronavirus-hit Italy improve in the coming months

Imola open to hosting closed-door F1 races if safe to do so

After the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed in February, the circuit approached Automobile Club of Italy president, Angelo Sticchi Damiani, about stepping in as a replacement.

That offer became academic after Italy became the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, and the country went into lockdown.

However, with the F1 organisation now seeking dates for races without spectators, Selvatico Estense says he would be willing to offer Imola for free later in the year - if government rules allow it.

This would be the first F1 race to be staged at Imola since 2006, when it hosted the San Marino Grand Prix.

"This situation is an opportunity for us to be a candidate for a grand prix this season," Selvatico Estense told Autosport.

"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 wherewe 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 behind closed doors."

Selvatico Estense has not yet spoken to the F1 organisation, as the protocol is to go via the ACI.

Regarding dates, he's open to any options but suggests that Imola could run a back-to-back race with the Italian GP at Monza, which is still scheduled for 6 September.

The Belgian GP currently has the 30 August slot, but events and mass gatherings have been banned in the country until September 1.

A later date could also work in terms of weather, which could be useful if F1 has trouble securing the flyaway races that are planned for mid-Sepember onwards.

"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,: he added.

"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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