June 18, 2016

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone says he will accept the Imola circuit in San Marino as a substitute for Monza as host of the Italian Grand Prix if negotiations over a new contract at Monza fail.

The Imola circuit last hosted a F1 grand prix in 2006 but is emerging as a candidate to replace Monza, which has held a grand prix every year except one since 1950.

Ecclestone said if Italy's national motorsports body, the Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI), ''was not happy in Monza, and they want it in Imola, we are happy to support Imola.''

Speaking Saturday at the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, Ecclestone said Imola ''was doing a lot of work'' to modernize the facilities at the Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari, which has hosted 27 races and was the site of the death of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Asked if he was confident there would be an Italian Grand Prix next year, whether in Monza or Imola, Ecclestone said: ''I hope so. It's up to the national sporting body to decide.''

Imola's circuit chief Uberto Selvatico Estense was quoted in the Italian press as saying Ecclestone had offered Imola the same commercial terms as Monza.

''After four years of negotiations (with Monza) that made him lose patience, Ecclestone called us and gave us the same conditions,'' Selvatico Estense was quoted as saying in La Repubblica. ''We accepted. So we signed a contract for the Italian Grand Prix from 2017.''

However, the Imola deal is conditional upon no agreement being struck with Monza, which has hosted more F1 races - 65 - than any other circuit. The only year Monza did not host a race was 1980 when the track was undergoing an upgrade.

The issue also is in the hands of ACI, which controls the allocation of funds to host the Italian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, Ecclestone also said the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix beyond this year is in serious doubt due to financial problems in the country.

''The chances are it won't happen (next year),'' Ecclestone said, while adding that a grand prix in Argentina is a possible replacement.

''We are talking to them all the time,'' Ecclestone said of negotiations with Argentine organizers.

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