Looking for a Home

One of the great consistencies of Formula 1 in recent years has been the abandonment of well known traditional venues for territories that have more money than sense; however if someone were to hand you a blank cheque to race there, I’m sure many would happily oblige.

It has been rather galling though to watch the likes of the Bahrain, Chinese and Turkish Grand Prix suffer dwindling crowds after only a few years and after only two years, the Singapore Grand Prix is beginning to suffer a similar fate. To top that off Abu Dhabi wasn’t even close to filling out first time round!! At the Shanghai race, the organisers pointedly left grandstands entirely empty in order to utilise the space for television advertising.
Admittedly I still believe in the ten-year-test (i.e. – give a Grand Prix at least ten years to generate some sort of youthful interest or national business interest in motorsport) and as such am not willing to condemn the likes of Bahrain, Turkey or Singapore yet, but it really is not looking positive. 

What is positive however is the confirmation of both the Canadian and British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards – two races that deserve to be on the calendar, not just because they have produced championship winning drivers and stars, but because they are always absolutely jammed packed with people. Both races regularly vie with Monza with highest attendances over the course of a Grand Prix season and produce some very good racing too – something that may never apply to Singapore.
Of course vast amounts of money are involved and naturally that is controversial, but at times when economies are struggling in these times of recession, the cash injection from tourists into the local businesses cannot be ignored.

This is what generates love and support for Formula 1 and motor racing – rarely are long lasting and fruitful relationships built on flashing lights and glitzy happenings. Such gifts and flash turn out to be fake or cheap knock-offs on closer inspection and that sounds a little too much like Vegas for my liking – there’s a reason why Formula 1 never went back to Caesars Palace after 1982.
The fight is not over yet though. Both the French and American Grand Prix are still not on the calendar, while Belgium and Germany are under threat from slumping economies and licensing issues. If these events are lost to Formula 1, then the sport will be all the poorer for it and if it keeps on alienating its hardcore audience while trying to sell itself to uninterested patrons, then the downward spiral could eventually become terminal.

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