Iconic European Venues ‘Fall Silent’ As Formula One Moves East

Mario Andretti passes Gilles Villeneuve at Monza in 1978.  Monza may also soon be gone from F1
Mario Andretti passes Gilles Villeneuve at Monza in 1978. Monza may also soon be gone from F1

The "whine of the Mercedes W05 turbine that powers so many" of the F1 teams "will disappear from the European arenas," according to Tim Rich of the London INDEPENDENT.

The "greatest season" in the history of the sport, '76, was "fought out in Europe:" at Zolder, Zandvoort, Anderstorp, Brands Hatch and the Paul Ricard track near Marseille. It was "decided" at the Nurburgring — none of these arenas "will stage a grand prix this year and in all probability they never will again."

Not even the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza, "at the sport's very heart, is safe." The circuit has been "described as a 'financial disaster'" by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone. Unless Monza can "gain exemption" from a £15M ($22.3M) tax bill, the Italian GP "will go the same way as Germany."

The money to stage the races "lies in the Far and Middle East;" in Shanghai, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, where they pay F1 management "higher than average fees, underwritten by governments."

Next year, the drivers will race at night through the streets of the Azerbaijan capital, Baku, a city where oil is "so prevalent that you can smell petrol in the air." Qatar "would also like a grand prix and what Qatar wants, Qatar usually gets."

The balance of F1 has "shifted" farther east, where there are "far fewer fans but much more money, largely supplied by governments that seldom feel the need to be elected." But even here the "sands are shifting."

Malaysia will "stage its 17th grand prix at the Sepang Circuit" on Sunday but its contract with Ecclestone "ends when the race is over." It is "hoped" that Mercedes, sponsored by Malaysia's "biggest company, Petronas, will step in." But as events in Germany proved, Mercedes "could not even save its own grand prix." INDEPENDENT

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