Oct 26, 2009

Tradition in Formula One? Not on Bernie's watch

Anyone having any doubts that Formula One is no longer about racing might want to pay attention.

In an interview with the Daily Express, Bernie Ecclestone says F1 does not need a British Grand Prix. Who is he kidding?

The comments were made after Donington Park filed to raise the cash it needed to host the race beginning next year. Despite the fact that Britain is a key market for the sport and a country that has hosted a grand prix since the beginning of F1, Ecclestone doesn't see its importance.

"Italy is a traditional race because they have always raced at Monza," he said.

"Monaco is traditional as they have always had the same track. Britain and France have raced at three different circuits. They want a cut-price deal because it is traditional. That's not traditional to me. Britain is not protected. I would like a new plane because it's traditional as I have had one for 40 years but no one is offering me a cheap deal. That's not how it works."

Unfortunately, it also doesn't work by offering racetrack contracts that are not commercially viable, which Ecclestone apparently has with Silverstone, which is the only option available for a 2010 British Grand Prix. To that Ecclestone simply said no one is forcing them to have a race.

But F1 is no longer about the fans or tradition or racing. It's all about money.

Imagine what the National Hockey League would do if the Montreal Canadiens looked to be threatened. Or what Mayor League Baseball would do if the New York Yankees were on the brink of failure.

Can anyone even contemplate NASCAR racing without a stop in Daytona? Or Charlotte. Or Martinsville?

But Formula One can go without Britain? France has already dropped off the calendar. Now it may be that only Monaco, Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, and Spa Francorchamps in Belgium will remain as historic races as Formula One moves to its focus to the motorsport hotbeds of Abu Dhabi, or Bahrain, or Korea.

But then again, what else would fans expect from a sport whose former governing body president, Max Mosley, said only months ago that it did not need Ferrari?

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