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GP Week : Issue 232
OPINION chriS LaMBdeN great event, but What about the track? Formula 1 returned to Mexico in some style, with a huge crowd of enthusiastic F1-starved Mexicans on hand to welcome the world’s premier motorsport back. It’s been so long that the novelty value of the colour and hype of F1 in the flesh was always likely to carry the day. Will it continue? Quite possibly. But someone’s got to say it – there is one giant ‘elephant in the room’. Let’s call a spade a shovel – the track is crap. It didn’t use to be, but now it is. The destruction of the once famous and challenging Peraltada sweeper in favour of routing the track through the existing sports stadium had been noted and to some degree (reluctantly) accepted in the build-up, but the circuit presented in full – a motley grey collection of slow corner sequences, headlined by the impossibly tight and pathetic chicane in the Stadium area – provided one of the more boring races for some time, and a challenge for the politically correct teams, drivers, and TV hosts attempting to be as up-beat as possible, which the promoter’s efforts warranted. Getting any new GP off the ground has to be a huge task – the event deserved better. The Stadium concept is good; the execution, however, not quite so. Driver comments after practice were... diplomatic but revealing: Lewis: “The track feels more like a go kart track in the slow areas!” Nico: “The track reminds me very much of my youth. It feels like a kart circuit with a lot of very tight corners...” Sebastian: “Surprisingly the speed was low overall, I was hoping that the fast corners were a bit quicker.” Geddit? It was, for the drivers, a yawn. So why does this keep on happening? With Formula 1 needing to hold and regenerate its audience, why do the movers-and shakers let it happen? It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s not rocket science. Remember Turkey – it was one of the best ‘new’ tracks ever, with some serious, challenging sections. We can only presume that the design for any of these new venues goes through a process of preliminary design and approval well before there’s a build commitment. So where was the inner voice warning that this was just another sleep-inducing set of slow-medium corners; that passing would be almost impossible ... Arse-covering political correctness, the bane of the modern world in general, wins again. The losers will ultimately be the Mexican GP promoters. Once the novelty wears off, Mexicans may well tire of the procession that this kind of track delivers. Once some extended use and rubber beds the track surface down (a pre-GP race meeting once used to be a requirement – on this evidence it needs to be reinstated), the ice-rink off line will go and some of this particular race’s problem will be eased, but I wonder if there’s anyone with the courage to open up some of the corners – in particular that dead-stop Stadium sequence – to allow the best racing drivers in the world to, well, race... 13 GPWEEK.com // 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION