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GP Week : Issue 56
>>GPWEEKOPINION eaction onsistency improved as a result … something must be done!” In the end, it fell to that bastion of calmness and sense, Barrichello’s boss, Ross Brawn, to suggest that a knee-jerk reaction wasn’t the best solution. Good on you Ross. F1 is in fact the safest form of motorsport on the planet. Safer than MotoGP, safer than Rally, safer than most other on-track ophrenia encourage dull and processional racing (Valencia springs to mind), but in times of plenty almost any other track can yield an exciting contest. It’s the riders who make it good. But there are too many other memories – the key being the word ‘unchanging’ back there in the first paragraph. For all its rolling parkland lawns, giving picnic-space/grandstands and sweeping circuit views for the hardy and often sodden spectators, Donington has a couple of insuperable problems. The first lies rooted in the past. What passed for barely adequate circuit facilities more than two decades ago are nowadays far beyond the pale. Donington is the most down-at-heel found anywhere in MotoGP: “The Home of British Motor Sport” is more reminiscent of the old and now discarded Malaysian tracks Shah Alam and Johor Bahru than of any modern standard. Even when they did rebuild the battered pits a couple of years ago, they did little more than replicate the old ones. Compared with the spacious garages found at modern tracks – often with showers and toilets – it was stuck in the dark ages. The atmosphere was everywhere pervasive: marginal sanitation combined with inadequate drainage saw to that. But Donington’s real problem, the reason it never really endeared itself in the way of Assen or Mugello (or even the fast old original Silverstone), was the nature of the track. It is riven by split personality: the circuit with a surfeit of schizophrenia. More than half the track is gloriously smooth and flowing. Symphonically so. But it needed some extra length to meet MotoGP’s 2.5-mile minimum length, and it was achieved by reversing the direction of the final chicane and adding a pair of ultra-slow hairpin bends. The Melbourne Loop is so out of character with the rest of the circuit that you virtually need a different bike for it. Ah well. Never again. That particular quirk is consigned to history. Silverstone next year, and the cars will come to Donington instead. Hope they fix the road access and muddy car parks by then. 23 motorsports because it is F1, because the money exists to make it so. And rightly so. So, enough with the hysteria Rubens. Occasionally, once in a blue moon, bad stuff happens. That’s life. It’s unlucky, but that’s life. In Massa’s case, extraordinarily unlucky! Feel for him, and support him. But hey, a spectator fell down the stairs at Melbourne (Australia)’s famous MCG stadium over the weekend and banged his head. He died. No-one is calling for a stadium redesign. Stuff does, occasionally, unfortunately, happen. In Massa’s case, be thankful for the safety systems which did save him from more serious injury. Not too long ago, such an accident would have had far more serious consequences.