Motor Racing: Mosley asked to think again

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THE Italian government yesterday urged the international motoring federation, FIA, to reverse its decision to cancel the Italian Grand Prix on safety grounds.

Gianni Letta, the under-secretary, wrote to Max Mosley, the FIA president, on behalf of the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, appealing to them to find a solution to ensure the race was run as scheduled on 11 September.

'We cannot allow the Italian Grand Prix to be cancelled from Formula One's international calendar, nor can we accept the cancellation of Monza from the international motor racing hall of fame,' Letta said.

The race could still be saved, he pointed out, by building in 'one or more chicanes' to reduce speed, as had been done at other circuits. 'I know FIA has opposed such a plan, but the Italian government formally re-proposes it as the only solution capable of assuring the only thing we can accept - the running of the race.'

Race organisers have blamed the government for not ensuring that the grand prix - the highlight of the Italian season - went ahead. Lucia Gremmo, the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage for the Milan area, has opposed the felling of century- old trees to enable the track to be made safer by widening run-off areas at the dangerous Lesmo curves.

Earlier, race organisers lambasted the embattled government of Berlusconi, who already faces a crisis as investors have taken fright at squabbling in his fraying coalition, for not saving the race.

Paolo Arrigoni, the president of the Lombardy regional council, said FIA's decision showed that the government had acted 'with complete irresponsibility'. He added that Berlusconi's reputation was 'riding on his ability to defend the grand prix'.