Over the white line: Send the British GP to Portimao!

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarFriday, January 9th, 2009

 
 

This week we heard, to the exclusion of almost everything else, how Donington Park got permission for the redevelopment that will, if successful, see it hosting the 2010 British Grand Prix.

This was negotiated in the face of considerable scepticism and, while an important step in the right direction, still leaves the significant issues of finance, transportation, building deadlines, FIA approval and whether or not the East Midlands Airport radar really will mess up the TV pictures.

So let’s not drink the Kool-Aid too quickly. And, in the meantime, we’d like to just quietly back another option.

Since everyone and their mother seems to be holding tests, races, you name it, at the Portimao circuit on Portugal’s Algarve these days, it’s clearly now the front-runner for staging the 2010 British Grand Prix should things still fail to come together in Derbyshire in time.

Don’t you see? It’s the ideal solution as, during the first week in July, there’ll probably be more Brits out there then are left in the UK. And East Midlands airport would be so very handy for the charter flights…

You read it here first. In the meantime, here’s some of the racing-related items that caught our eye this week:

  • An interesting insight into how ITV’s priorities led it to walk away from its F1 contract is given by the Media Guardian this week. It tells how ITV News chief Michael Jermey has just had sports coverage added to his portfolio, and adds: “In March last year ITV chose to walk away from its Formula One motor racing live rights deal in order to successfully focus its financial resources on retaining live Champions League football… ITV has also ditched its live coverage of the Boat Race.” Unpleasant confirmation of how the financial madness gripping football has the potential to ripple out into other sports.
  • McLaren are feeling perhaps justifiably smug about the team’s appearance at the top of a global survey before Christmas (“an exhaustive investigation that straddled the globe” according to the press release) which proclaimed it the most popular team and Lewis Hamilton the world’s favourite driver. Especially since it was carried out by Renault sponsor ING. Hamilton, who celebrated his 24th birthday this week, was the winner with 27 per cent of the vote, some 10 per cent clear of Kimi Raikkonen and with more than double the votes of Fernando Alonso. Poor old Felipe Massa got just nine per cent, which is plain unkind. And McLaren, with 29 per cent, pipped Ferrari to the top spot by just one point. “It’s official! If there was every any uncertainty…” says the team. Well, from all we hear about hate for Hamilton, the fallout from ‘Spygate’ and the eternal popularity of Ferrari, we would say it was far from a certain outcome. If a welcome one for fans.
  • Generally good news from the tin-top world as regards the plans of British drivers for next year. Jason Plato is still looking for a drive following the decision of his SEAT team to pull out of the BTCC. Rumours have linked him to a possible match-up with Vauxhall, where he would be racing 2007 and 2008 champion Fabrizio Giovanardi, and to WSR BMW, where he describes team boss Dick Bennetts as “an old mate” and the Beemer as “a bloody good car”. One thing the 40-year-old has ruled out is a trip to the WTCC, saying it would interfere too much with his family and television commitments. Andy Priaulx’ plans, on the other hand, have firmed up nicely with BMW confirming it will be running a Team UK in the WTCC equipped with a BMW 320si for the three-times champion. The company’s motorsport boss Mario Theissen has issued its drivers with a directive: “Do everything to win back the World Championship in 2009”
  • A1GP’s Team GBR boss Katie Clements was having some fun before Christmas getting an insight into what her press team describes as “life with the helmet visor down.” She visited the Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire for a session with an instructor before having a crack at a flying lap in a Formula Ford single seater racecar. Afterwards she called it “a superb opportunity to gain an insight into the demands our drivers are under on race days” – but we think there’s more to it. Clearly Team GBR will now never be short of an extra pair of hands behind the wheel again…
  • To get your juices flowing ahead of the next A1GP test, due to take place at Portimao (honestly, it’s a wonder there’s track time available) try checking out some of the following: The top ten moments of 2008 | Quiz of 2008 | Check out pictures of Portimao

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