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Will Monza happen?

Italy's high profile in Formula 1 may have waned in recent years, but the Italian Grand Prix has been one of the mainstays of the Formula 1 World Championship since the series began in 1950. In fact there have been Italian GPs since 1921, the vast majority of them at the Autodromo Nazionale at Monza.

This year's Italian Grand Prix, however, is in serious doubt because the Monza circuit needs to undertake important safety work before being given the go-ahead for the race by the FIA. That work means there must be more run-off areas, which means that more trees have to be cut down around the track and that means that more environmentalists are unhappy.

The powerful but old-fashioned Automobile Club of Italy seems to think that the World Championship cannot happen without Monza and is baulking at doing the work, but there is little doubt that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is quite capable of ditching Monza if it does not toe the line.

Cynical observers suggest that Monza's problems have nothing to do with the safety work but rather because Monza is one of the few races - along with Monaco - which Ecclestone does not currently promote. Over the years Ecclestone has gradually taken over most of the races but has never been able to get the promotional rights to Monza.

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