Hamilton doubts Monza will be cut from F1 schedule

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Defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton doubts that the Autodromo Nazionale Monza will be cut from the sport due to its historic value.

Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix in all but one of the F1 world championship seasons, but is at risk of falling off the calendar due to financial uncertainty and an increasingly global outlook for the sport.

Most within F1 have condemned the possible loss of Monza, and Hamilton became the latest figure to lend his support to the Italian circuit when speaking over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

“Well there’s two sides to it,” Hamilton said. “You’ve got the actual circuit, which holds great historic value to the sport. Then you’ve got the fans, who ultimately make the weekend.

“You’ve got those few races through the year – Silverstone, Spanish Grand Prix, Italian Grand Prix, German Grand Prix – which to me are the foundation of the sport, particularly as you’ve got so many fans there.”

The Italian Grand Prix boasts one of the best atmospheres in F1 thanks to the loyal Ferrari fans – the ‘Tifosi’ – that make their way to the track each year.

“When you’re on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix, the whole straight is full of Ferrari fans,” Hamilton said. “You don’t get to see that in other places, so I think it’s important that we keep it.

“You lose the Italian Grand Prix, you lose all those fans. I can’t see it happening. I think ultimately it’s all politics and stuff which I’m sure will get sorted out.”

Monza’s contract expires following the 2016 edition of the race, and is set to retain its September slot for next season as per last month’s leaked calendar.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994