F1: Damon Hill looks to IRL for breakaway warnings

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, June 11th, 2009

 
 

Former Formula One World Champion Damon Hill has warned that F1 should only stage a breakaway series if it wants to go through the same trials and tribulations that split American open-wheel racing apart for years and handed dominance to its rival NASCAR.

The British Racing Drivers’ Club president told Autosport: “You only have to look over the pond to see what happens when you split a championship.”

He was, of course, referring to the 1996 parting of the ways that took place between the IndyCar Series and the CART-run Champ Car World Series.

While they got on with competing with each other, the tin-top NASCAR series went past both to establish itself as the dominant attraction, a position that it will undoubtedly continue to enjoy in the US and beyond for the foreseeable future.

For a more detailed account of what happened, see our ‘Racing Splits’ series of articles here >>

Hill continued: “It’s difficult enough to draw people into one particular sport, so what will they make of two separate championships? It would just dilute it.

“It has been getting worse over the last few years on [the politics] front. The last few years have been really appalling and lots of people have asked questions about the administration of the sport.

“That’s what the issue is all about. It’s entertaining in the same way that the Jerry Springer Show is – not for the right reasons – so it’s a turn-off as well.”

Hill has also confirmed that any breakaway series hasn’t got its act sufficiently together to start talking about actual race dates – or, if it has, then Silverstone hasn’t been approached.

With Bernie Ecclestone so emotionally committed to Donington Park, and with the Northamptonshire track still the only actual holder of a licence to stage top-flight racing, then you’d have to think it would be the refusenik’s venue of choice.

But Hill said: “Clearly, it has occurred to everyone that there may be a need for venues if there is going to be another Championship.

“But we value our relationship with F1 since 1950 and we want that tradition to continue. But we’re a business too so if something came along then clearly there would have to be discussion.

“From our point of view, the circuit has to survive so we might be placed in that position. But I’m a traditionalist. I believe in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and going back to 1950 that is the thing with the continuity to it.”

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