ACI confident of Monza deal next month, rules out Imola

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TURIN, Italy -- The president of the Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI) Angelo Sticchi Damiani has ruled out the possibility of hosting the Italian Grand Prix at Imola beyond 2016 and is confident Monza can reach a new deal next month.

Monza's contract is due to expire at the end of the year and for the first time the ACI has become involved in the negotiations and funding of the event. At the weekend Bernie Ecclestone suggested the Italian Grand Prix could move to Imola next year if Monza is unable to agree to his terms, but Sticchi Damiani said Monza is the only option if ACI support is involved.

"Monza because in the Italian financial law it is written that the grand prix should be Monza, not Imola," Sticchi Damiani told ESPN via a translator at the FIA Sport Conference in Turin. "The involvement of the Automobile Club of Italy, who is involved directly in the running of the grand prix starting next year, is for an Italian Grand Prix running in Monza, not in Imola."

He added: "I hope to have a solution to the future of Monza next month. It's a complicated affair, as you know, but we have worked a lot and we trust we are really very close to a solution."

Sticchi Damiani said negotiations took a step forward around the time of the Monaco Grand Prix but have been longer than he expected.

"Let's say that it is a difficult negotiation," he said. "It's the first time a sports association in Italy has taken on the burden to organise the Formula One grand prix with significant funds. The fact that the ACI is replacing the Automobile Club Milano, which is still organising the grand prix this year, is of course a revolution and a quite relevant one.

"However, thanks also to the support of the Lombardi regional authority and, hopefully, thanks to a national sponsor that still needs to be defined in detail, thanks to this support we managed to begin [negotiations] in February.

"Around Monte Carlo we found many common points with Ecclestone - there are things that still have to be defined - but I would dare say that we are very close to an agreement despite some actions that, of course, have not helped. The negotiations, quite the opposite, have made it even more complicated and longer."