I have written various columns in recent days, trying to get across my love for Monza. In GP+ I told the story of arriving in Heaven and being directed to the Celestial Speedway. “If you get lost,” the angel says, “Just ask for Monza”.
But such religious references get complicated when one ventures afar and so in The Hindustan Times, I concluded as follows:
When I am asked what my favourite race is, I might say Melbourne or Montreal because I like the cities, but there is only one Monza – and every race fan should go there once.
I have often thought it a shame that Grand Prix racing does not have its own resident poet, if indeed one can be resident in “a village” that it is constantly on the move. The sport has so many elements that might inspire great poetry: its light, its colour, its noise and its smells.
And, of course, its emotional highs and lows.
I want someone who can describe Monza in all of its glory because I have tried many times and I am never really satisfied.
It’s just that this is the place you want to be…
Monza is just perfect. Yes, we can always find things to whinge about, but it is the greatest race track on earth and the rest of life’s dross really doesn’t matter. This year, by some slip of the mind of ski jump-like proportions, I managed to go to Monza having failed to book a hotel room. The magicians who organise my travel were faced with a real challenge, but it worked out fine. I had four different rooms on four different nights, but all in the same hotel. The staff I met would all say:” “Ah, you are the one”. On one evening I even had a conference room that had been converted into my own personal penthouse, completed with a huge terrace, a TV and even a mini bar… They were keen to please, not because that is what hoteliers do, but rather because this was Italy and F1 is a religion.
And I guess that is the secret. Monza has more passion that any other race track I know, and it is infectious. There is a reason that the Ferrari fans are named “tifosi”. The word is related to typhus and is used because the fans are so passionate that they are almost in a fever.
Luca Montezemolo, the chairman of Ferrari, is the world’s number one tifoso. He can be a little eccentric on occasion, but he is no fool and when he talks the smart people in the Formula 1 world listen.
On the Friday before Monza he met Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt at Maranello for discussions about the future of the sport. Afterwards he told the Italian media that F1 needs to consider shorter races, held later in the day, in
order to attract a younger audience. I am not sure about that idea, but I recognise that there is a problem. The sport is not appealing to the youth of today. The older generations may scoff at shorter attention spans and a laugh about how “the kids these days” are wired to the Internet, but if F1 wants to remain relevant, it needs to adapt and embrace the future, rather than trying to ignore the fact that this is the way the world is going.
Trying to hold back time has never worked… one just has to embrace it. Because of F1 stays stuck in the mud, someone else will overtake.