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Vettel: F1 cannot lose Italian GP at Monza

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Sebastian Vettel has called on Formula 1 to ensure that the Italian Grand Prix remains at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza amid uncertainty about the circuit’s future.

Monza has appeared on all but one F1 calendar since the formation of the world championship back in 1950, but is at threat of losing its hosting rights upon the expiration of its current contract in 2017.

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone called the track “disastrous for us from a commercial point of view”, suggesting that the race may make way for more lucrative events in nations such as Azerbaijan and Qatar.

Speaking after finishing second in his first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver, Vettel stressed the importance of keeping Monza on the calendar regardless of its financial considerations.

“If we take this away from the calendar for any s****y money reasons I think you are basically ripping our hearts out,” Vettel said.

“We are here, we are racing and this makes it so much more worthwhile. It’s what we’re here for. You stand on the grid, you look to the left, you look to the right, people are just happy to be part of it and it makes our day.

“So, simple as that. It’s incredible. So, thanks for this emotion on behalf of all the Ferrari team. Thank you.”

Vettel’s thoughts were echoed by Williams’ Felipe Massa, who said it was crucial to keep the sport’s most historic venues on the calendar.

“I don’t think they can take it out,” Massa said. “The history of Formula 1, this is history here, here is part of what is Formula 1. Everything that Formula 1 grows [into] is a lot thanks to these races as well, to these people.

“We race for the people and when you see the podium with a lot of people like that and they’re screaming and crying, I don’t think we can lose that. This is part of our blood and we cannot lose this type of races.

“I really like to go to new countries, we go to amazing countries, countries that I even didn’t know what they meant before and then I love to go there, many different countries and I’m really in favour to go there but you cannot lose something which is inside the blood as well.”

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