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Old 29 Oct 2001, 13:34 (Ref:166947)   #1
KC
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The Future of F1 in Great Britain

Since the 2000 British Grand Prix was moved to a spring date and became a quagmire for the fans, the FIA has taken a stance of placing the British GP on probation, urging changes to be made or insinuating that the GP might be taken. Long queues and poor parking has plagued the British GP for more years than just the last 2, so why is the FIA suddenly so adamant that the situation needs to be corrected?

The EU ruling that tobacco advertising must be curtailed has placed the FIA in a difficult situation where their major sponsors are being forced to withdraw from placing advertising at sporting events all over Europe. Rumors have abounded that a Chinese GP, Middle Eastern GP and a Russian GP are all in the planning stages since the EU ruling on tobacco ads. All of these countries are friendly to tobacco ads and have no provision to ban cigarettes. They are eager to hold a GP for the financial or political gains that an F1 race might hold for them. Each of them has massive government backing to pay the astronomic sanctioning fees and to build a suitable venue. Be assured that any of these races will sport hundreds of Marlboro, Gauloises, or Lucky Strike signs that represent millons of dollars of sponsorship investment.

The latest news for the FIA is that England no longer has a representative on the governing board as the seat was lost to a representative from Turkey. Rumors abound that numerous political manuvers went on to assure that the seat went to a non-English representative. Now England has no advocate to speak for them in the single largest motorsports governing body in the world.

What does this hold for British F1 fans and the future of the British GP? With the current political climate opposed to tobacco ads, the FIA's sudden negative stance on the car parks at Silverstone, and the chance for the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone to tap into untold billions by moving the F1 circus to China, Russia or the Middle East, the British GP looks to be the next casualty. The FIA does not care that fans must walk for 4 miles or get stuck in a muddy car park as long as they continue to make beaucoup money holding the GP. But now, the chance to make even more money is drawing the FIA to other nations instead of adding a GP to the existing calendar. Only Sauber and Ferrari operate their teams outside the English Midlands, all the rest of the teams maintain their shops in and around this small area of England. The majority of support industry is also in the area. And yet, they may soon not have a home race. England has as much history as Italy and Germany, countries with 2 GPs each, in F1. McLaren and Williams are some of the most dominant teams in F1 history. Can anyone imagine Monza or Imola being removed from the Grand Prix calendar? I believe it will never happen unless Ferrari ever quit F1. Will Hockenheim and Nurburgring leave the Grand Prix calendar? Not while Mercedes Benz and BMW are two of F1's leading engine suppliers. So how does England rate such second class treatment. Where are the influential voices of Ron Dennis and Sir Frank Williams on this matter? Are they aligned with the FIA in an effort to make more money? Or is their any national pride left in them?
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Old 29 Oct 2001, 14:06 (Ref:166954)   #2
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Just rumors

I donít see it that dark. [cynical] The general interest is to keep the sponsors happy and that is possible if they keep the fans happy as well. Merc or BMW will be delighted to have more ads in say Russia or China or Turkey, but itís unlikely that this will significantly increase their business in the aforementioned countries. And if this happens with the cost of angering British fan-base, nope, I donít think so.[/cynical] Maybe Frank or Ron donít bother to say anything because the danger is not that big.

I donít remember to read that British GP will be taken away; moved from Silverstone yes. The GPís in danger are the second Italian and German GPís. The possibility of increasing the number of GPís is less that slim; the teams donít want that.

PS: Minardi (Faenza), Toyota (Koln) and I believe that Prost too (?? donít know where) are not based in England. Even though Benetton was, Iím sure that soon enough Renault will want to be near home.
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Old 29 Oct 2001, 18:49 (Ref:167090)   #3
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F1 HAS to have a future in GB. I can't see it any other way. No other country has a larger fan base or more input to the scene.

I have only ever been to one racing circuit, but when I went to Brands over the summer I was surprised how such a "world class venue" had such shoddy and basic facilities. I'm assuming Silverstone is the same.

But back on the topic, yes Motorsport's future is in the UK. No question. No need to worry. But that doesn't mean it should be taken for granted.
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Old 29 Oct 2001, 19:24 (Ref:167111)   #4
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Originally posted by Tristan


But that doesn't mean it should be taken for granted.
I totally agree, it should not be taken for granted but with the connections Britain has with Motorsport it would be hard for the FIA to drop it.

Britain has the best and most diverse Motorsport package in the world, so I don't think the FIA will drop the GP.

Having said that I think there's more to this than meets the eye (conspiracy theories aside), I mean Monaco has bad traffic problems and I don't think all other GP's have totally free flowing traffic but the FIA don't complain at them.
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Old 29 Oct 2001, 19:33 (Ref:167117)   #5
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I stand corrected on the locaitons of all the teams. I forgot about Minardi, Prost and the newborn Toyota team.

Even though it has not happened yet, with all the things that are going on, the FIA is setting itself up to have an adequate excuse to remove the GP from England. Brands Hatch as a track is probably not a go, too much complaint from the locals about traffic and noise level. Donington Park is a decent track, but is also farther from the media epicenters than Silverstone. It also has the same problem as Silverstone concerning car parks.

Formula 1 and it's teams are all vast money pits. They require ever increasing amounts of fresh cash to maintain their steady upward curve of technology. If the teams can make more money by having an event in a tobacco friendly environment and the FIA can charge the promoter more money to hold an event, then they both win. Teams can guarantee advert space on the car for tobacco ads for one more race and the FIA reaps larger sanctioning profits. Why would Bernie and the circus not go to Russia, the Middle East or China? Even if it is at the expense of the British GP.

Britian has been one of the most loyal fan bases, but money rules F1 not loyalty. F1 has grown so worldwide that any losses in England are more than made up elsewhere. How would the British F1 fan react if the race goes to Russia in 2003?
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Old 29 Oct 2001, 20:32 (Ref:167154)   #6
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Whenever this subject raises, I have the feeling, that FIA and Bernie wants to ban any European circuit they can...

It sounds like that saying... "The medication to cure the disease is killing the patient"
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Old 30 Oct 2001, 08:50 (Ref:167319)   #7
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Fact: The British Grand Prix is the only one on next years calendar with a provisional sign beside it.

Fact: The FIA have repeatedly said that it is not the right of the UK to host a Grand Prix.

What irritates me beyond all reason is the fact that much of the EU's interest in banning tobacco sporsorship is not to protect the likes of us from smoking (although I hate smoking and smokers), it is in fact to ptotect their own tobacco industries from being taken over by other countries such as America.

Formula 1 has a worlwide TV audience of approximately 400 million per race. If the race takes place outside of the EU tobacco advertising is allowed. Those TV pictures are broadcast to ALL 400 million viewers regardless of whether they are EU or non EU so what bloody difference does it make if you ban tobacco advertising within the EU?

The only people who don't get to see the adverts are the poor mugs who pay upwards of £100 to see the race live!

In answer to the comment about Brands Hatch and it's poor facilities. The facilities have been steadily improved over the past 10 years, largely through the efforts of Nicola Foulston who many hated because she ran BHL as a business. There are new pitlane garages, the track has been completely resurfaced, the Foulston Centre was built along with it's media centre, there is a new scrutineering bay and the main paddock has been tarmac'd, and of course we have numerous new trade shops and a huge grandstand at Paddock Hill Bend. I accept the toilet and some other facilities are poor, but they are slowly being addressed by the new owners Octagon. You must remember that during the days when the British GP alternated between Silverstone and Brands hatch, the then management spent little or no money on the facilities, hence the problems of today. Facilities at Silverstone ARE a lot better, but the BRDC has re-invested GP money there for many years and it shows!
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