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GP Week : Issue 224
OPINION mAt CoCh Editor there's was a great moment during sunday's post-race press conference when sebastian Vettel picked up Lewis Hamilton's winners trophy and ran his critical eye over it. The trophy for winning the British Grand Prix is unique in that it doesn't belong to the driver. Instead he gets his name inscribed on it, along with all past winners of the race, much in the way the Stanley Cup in ice hockey is. Still, the grand, golden chalice is one of the most coveted on the calendar - not because of what it is but because of what it represents. It's a connection to the likes of Jim Clark, who won the British Grand Prix five times (four in a row), to the likes of Nigel Mansell and Jackie Stewart. It's a part of Formula 1 heritage and tradition, a legacy of sorts in a sport where things are becomming ever more transient. Call me old-fashioned but I for one love the history of the sport. My bookshelves are filled with tomes on the likes of Mike Hawthorn or Juan-Manuel Fangio and even stretch back to the sports pre-war era. Motorsport is rich with history, and that's not something many sports can boast. So it saddens me to learn historic, traditional events like the Italian Grand Prix are under threat. The Italian Grand Prix is so much more than Italy's round of the world championship, it is a celebration of everything Italian in motorsport. The fabled Monza circuit is a Formula 1 fan's equivilent of the Temple Mount, Golgotha or Grand Mosque. Monza is other-worldly. What makes matters worse is the race isn't under threat because there's no interest, or the circuit is falling apart, but because not enough bank notes have thus far been found to stuff in the envelope labelled 'For Bernie'. Of course I can see Bernie Ecclestone's side of things. His job is to extract maximum milk for minimum moo from each and every cash cow in the paddock. He's got bosses to answer for and they're interested in the sport not for its heritage but for its earning capacity. So we can't really blame Bernie, he's just doing his job, but we can blame the sport's owner, CVC. One interesting suggestion put to me a week or two back was much like the financial arrangement for some of the prestigious teams. It's widely known Ferrari and a handful of other old-timers on the F1 grid get extra payments because of their value to the sport, so why not extend the same to the circuits? Silverstone has been on and off the calendar since it held the first world championship Formula 1 race in 1950 and Monza only missed 1980. So if the sport gives breaks to McLaren and Williams, who only joined the grid in the 1960s and 70s, why not put something in place to recognise some of these important events? Ultimately the difference to the sports bottom dollar would be comparatively small. In return it generates a huge amount of goodwill among the sport and with the fans. It would enable some of these old events to sell out, like Silverstone did on the weekend, by allowing promoters to charge reasonable ticket prices. There are so many potentially positive knock-ons by giving some of these circuits a break. Hell, it might even mean television figures rise, and if we're honest that's where the big bucks are anyway. 18 GPWEEK.com // 18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION give them A breAk