January 21, 2011 / 1:49 PM / in 8 years

Rome abandons F1 grand prix plan, eyes 2020 Games

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany drives during the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

ROME (Reuters) - Rome has “definitively” abandoned plans to hold a Formula One race after widespread opposition and will concentrate on its 2020 Olympic bid, mayor Gianni Alemanno said Friday.

The city had wanted to host an annual grand prix through the streets of the EUR district from 2013 but last week F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone wrote to the mayor saying Italy, which already has a race at Monza, could not hold two events per year.

“Today we definitively and formally abandon the Formula One project for Rome,” Alemanno told a news conference.

The plan, which was also not popular with local residents, failed to gain support from the teams with even Italy’s Ferrari saying the country could only host one race per year given the worldwide expansion of the calendar to 20 races from this year.

Maurizio Flammini, who dreamt up the Rome grand prix idea, said last week he hoped the city could rotate with Monza but officials at the northern Italian track, loved by teams and fans, said it was impossible.

Roberto Formigoni, president of the Lombardy region where Monza is situated, said he would now wholeheartedly back Rome’s 2020 summer Olympic bid despite the strong rivalry between Italy’s north and south.

“We are and will be side by side with Rome because the Olympic bid can be successful and a victory for Rome can be a victory for all of Italy,” he said via videolink.

Spain holds the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona and the European Grand Prix in Valencia but the latter is set to rotate to other nations in the future as F1 expands to new markets, with India a newcomer to the series this year.

Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by Justin Palmer

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