Imola renews through 2009

Reports in the Italian media suggest that Bernie Ecclestone has just done a new deal with SAGIS, the company which promotes the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. SAGIS is a subsidiary of the Automobile Club di Bologna and has been struggling to find the money to upgrade the circuit facilities. The good news is that the Italian Minister of Infrastructure Pietro Lunardi has agreed to provide around $13m to help fund the construction of a new paddock. Meanwhile – Sluggish ticket sales that have made the San Marino Grand Prix an uncertain fixture on the F1 calendar show no sign of picking up. "Formula chaos, the public flee; Unpopular rules and grandstands empty," Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport said in a headline Saturday. The paper noted that the stands at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit were emptier than ever during the previous day's practice sessions, estimating 3,000-4,000 spectators. It blamed high ticket prices and rule changes that include pushing the final qualifying round to Sunday morning – meaning that those who watch on Saturday will go home without knowing who will be in pole position. AP Story

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