MONZA • Amid uncertainty over the future of Monza, Sebastian Vettel said the possible absence of the Italian Grand Prix after 2016 would rip "our hearts out".
With talks continuing between Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Italian officials to extend Monza's contract beyond next year, the Ferrari driver called for the historic race to remain on the sport's calendar.
"Look at this, this says it all," said the German, referring to the crowd on track after yesterday's race, when he finished behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
"This is the best second place I have ever had, the emotions I have," added Vettel in his first podium finish as a Ferrari driver at his team's home race. "If we take this away from the calendar for any sh**** money reason you are basically ripping our hearts out."
According to Autosport, Ecclestone is seeking €25 million (S$39 million) per year compared to the €15 million being offered by local organisers.
Williams driver Felipe Massa, who drove for Ferrari from 2006 to 2013, also hailed the atmosphere.
"The emotion to be here is fantastic," said the Brazilian yesterday. "This amazing place, being on the podium here with a straight full of people so you cannot see any asphalt. Definitely the best podium."
Just a day earlier, the president of the northern Lombardy region sought to allay fears surrounding Monza.
"Monza is 99.9 per cent safe," Roberto Maroni said. "We have told Ecclestone we want to close the deal and we will do it by the end of this year.
"We now have three months to put the money together."
Maroni said he would talk to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who was quoted earlier in the week as saying he was going to tell Ecclestone to "leave Monza alone".
The circuit, which has hosted races since the 1920s and featured on the calendar in every season but one since the world championship started in 1950, faces an uncertain future with its current contract ending next year.
Ecclestone has hitherto shown signs of playing hard ball with local organisers, sounding pessimistic about the chances of renewing the contract. However Maroni said he had no doubt the 84-year-old wanted to retain the race.
"I felt from Ecclestone a complete and total desire to keep the Grand Prix," he said.