Rome could have a grand prix by 2013 if the Italian capital meets conditions set by Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial supremo has said.
The city is working on a plan by Maurizio Flammini, a former Formula Two driver and world superbike promoter, for a race in the EUR district on the outskirts of the capital.
"Rome is a unique setting. I have spoken to Flammini and I could give it a race by 2013 under certain conditions," Ecclestone wrote in a letter to Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.
"I am also ready to provide the necessary support to take the event to your city."
Local authorities will set up a promotional committee if Senator Andrea Augello, who has been assigned by Alemanno to make a preliminary organisational and financial feasibility assessment, gives his approval in a report due at the end of March.
"I'm quite confident we'll be able to give the green light," Augello told Reuters on Friday.
"We're not at that point yet because it's a complicated matter and it's a delicate moment from an economic viewpoint. But I'm optimistic."
Augello said the Italian Grand Prix at Monza would continue to be staged if plans for a street-circuit race in Rome came to fruition.
Alemanno has expressed guarded optimism too.
"This willingness (of Ecclestone's) is very important," he told reporters. "The negotiations will be beautiful, serious and complicated, almost as much as for an Olympics."
The plan has its critics though. International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley is unenthusiastic, while Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has said a Rome Grand Prix would be unthinkable unless it was a one-off.