San Marino GP safe to 2009

The mayor of Imola says that agreement has been reached to secure the future of the San Marino Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari until at least 2009. Massimo Marcignoli says that the deal was sealed at a meeting in London on Monday

San Marino GP safe to 2009

Mayor Marcignoli and Federico Bendinelli, the president of SAGIS, the company which manages Imola, met Bernie Ecclestone in London on Monday morning and on emerging, Marcignoli said: "In the course of the meeting, agreement was reached until 2009."

Many believed that when they watched Michael Schumacher beat Jenson Button in the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix - on the 10th anniversary of the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger - it would be the last Formula 1 race they would see on the track. The situation has now well and truly turned around.

Earlier this season the San Marino Grand Prix, one of two World Championship races to be held in Italy, had been widely tipped to lose its place on the calendar until the Italian government announced that it would back modernisation plans at Imola.

Piero Lunardi, Italy's minister for Transport and Infrastructure, said at the beginning of October: "After a period of study about restructuring the race track of Imola with the aim of guaranteeing the permanence of the circuit for F1, the ministry proposes to partially cover the necessary costs of the modernisation."

The new deal announced by Marcignoli today now seems to have put the medium-term future of the event beyond doubt.

With the French and British Grands Prix now looking almost certain to find places on the 2005 calendar and teams reluctant to commit to the resulting 19-race schedule long-term, San Marino appears to have moved itself well out of the bump-zone for 2006 and beyond.

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