MONZA, September 6- Sebastian Vettel risked another head-to-head confrontation with Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday when he launched an emotional plea for the Italian Grand Prix to be retained on the calendar.
The outspoken four-time champion German, who finished second behind defending two-time champion Briton Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Italian race, said losing Monza’s historic race ‘for shitty money reasons’ would tear out the heart of the sport.
“Look at this, this says it all,” said Vettel, pointing at the massed crowd of tifosi who had rushed onto the circuit after the race. “This is the best second place I have ever had, the best emotions I have had
“If we take this away from the calendar for any shitty money reasons you are basically ripping our hearts out. It makes it so much worthwhile, you stand on the grid – it makes it … It was an incredible day.”
It was Vettel’s first experience of the atmosphere at the Autodromo Nazionale as a Ferrari driver and came two weeks after his violent criticism of Italian tyres supplier Pirelli, an outburst that led to Ecclestone’s intervention on the eve of the Monza race.
Brazilian Felipe Massa, formerly with Ferrari and now with Williams, said: “The emotion here is fantastic. This amazing place, being on the podium here, with a straight full of people so you cannot see any asphalt . It is definitely the best podium and very human, very hot, very human. Feeling it is fantastic.”
Hamilton also backed Vettel’s call for Monza’s future to be settled and for the circuit to be retained.
“This circuit is such a special one for me and all the drivers,” he said. “When you stand on that podium you feel incredibly proud to be among all the greats that have stood up there. The sea of fans is unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s one of the best tracks in the world.
“This has to stay here for moral reasons. You’ve got all those fans, out there, who come every single year. Another Grand Prix would not have that same impact. We definitely have to keep it.”
Monza’s contract to host the Italian race ends next year (2016) and Ecclestone was at the centre of talks about an extension throughout the weekend.
He suggested that the Monza management were unable to show they could pay for the race, but on Sunday hosted Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi at a meeting that was expected to help resolve the problem.