There is little worse than losing Suzuka from the calendar every other year. There is little worse than the circuit, possibly the country which hosted the very first grand prix losing a place in the championship. And there is little worse than the pinnacle series in international motorsport not racing in the largest car market on the planet. But Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA have managed what I previously thought was impossible. The Canadian Grand Prix is apparently no more.
Canada has hosted a grand prix since 1967 at various tracks and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a glowing example of a great circuit. It is fast, but also has slow corners. It has sweeping complexes and a long straight. It has the Wall of Champions. It encourages overtaking and is very popular with fans the world over. Montreal embraces Formula One every year, but the powers-that-be have decided to remove the event from the calendar.
I am disgusted at the FIA and FOM.
Spa Francorchamps, that death-defying strip of tarmac that cuts through the Ardennes Forest has experienced it’s fair share of issues in the past, failing to host a Belgian Grand Prix in 2002 and 2006 However and thankfully, the circuit has returned and has remained with us to the present day. I consider myself lucky that Spa is still on the calendar.
Suzuka, another of Formula One’s amazing temples of speed is sharing a race with Fuji, the circuits agreeing to alternate each year. However, the very fact that Fuji was able to muscle in on the Japanese Grand Prix is in my book, unforgivable. While we haven’t had a chance to see Fuji in all it’s glory (the 2007 event was a wash-out), I really don’t think it can live up to Suzuka’s standards of providing great racing.
Silverstone is another track rich in heritage and tradition. The old airfield hosted the sport’s very first race back in 1950, but despite plans to modernise the facilities, the circuit has lost the British Grand Prix. From 2010, the event will either be held at Donington Park, or not held at all.
And now, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has felt the wrath of Bernie Ecclestone. And for what reason, you may ask. Why was the circuit dropped from the 2009 championship? What did the Canadians do that was so wrong? Was it the track surface falling apart? Was it a political move? Are we going to war with the Canucks? Or was it a move made with blindfolds on? Was it a game of pin the tail on the donkey, or did Ecclestone put all the tracks up on a dart board and decide after piercing Montreal that it had to go?
Well, we don’t actually know why. Since Tuesday when the announcement was made, we’ve had – as far as I can tell – no official reason for the exclusion of the race. However, one mooted reason is that the team’s desire to have a three-week summer break prompted the FIA to move the Turkish Grand Prix from July to August, and by doing this and dropping Canada, the vacation time is created.
But, and this is a big but, I strongly doubt that the teams would have agreed to this in a million years. The manufacturers know how important a North American race is, and they’ve been wanting a return to the United States since the race was dropped after 2007. Further more, not only were the teams not consulted, but neither was Circuit Gilles Vileneuve. On Wednesday, they issued a statement:
The executives of the Grand Prix of Canada have learned via the media of the omission of the Grand Prix of Canada from the F1 Championship 2009 calendar. Therefore, the organization will issue no comment until having spoken to Formula One Management (FOM) and the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile. Grand Prix of Canada Press Statement.
What are the FIA running here, a joke of an organisation? They didn’t even privately inform the organisers a couple of hours in advance of the statement. No fax, telephone call, not even an email. That is insane. And the FIA want to do business with these people, make money and provide racing, yet they are not even capable of delivering basic respect to the companies that provide the FIA and FOM with the facilities to run the sport. It would be like turning up to work one Friday and your boss telling you that this is your last day because he/she neglected to tell you four weeks ago that the notice period had begun. It’s just plain wrong.
I am utterly disgusted at the FIA and FOM.
And I am not the only one.
I don’t think it is a short-term problem, but it is a problem that does need to be addressed. We are a global series and not to be performing in one of the major continents is a serious problem – even more so because it is a continent that is very important for the motor manufacturers who are involved in F1. Nick Fry.
And now I would like to share an email I received from BlogF1 reader Gman. A regular in the comments, Gman resides in America, and as you can imagine, isn’t too happy about the removal of the only North American event…
The removal of the [Canadian] race is a crushing blow to F1 fans in both Canada and the U.S. First off, there is now no GP anywhere on the entire North American continent next season, and fans from all 3 major nations now get the shaft.
Second, it is just the latest development in a long line of Bernie bullying races off the calendar, but this time it appears to be more brazen and shocking than ever before in my view. If this is the way he, Max, or any combination thereafter will treat the promoters of other races, then everyone connected with any GP whose status is even questioned – Britain, France, Germany, Australia – had better buckle up and hang on, because more bumpy times may be ahead. Gman, a fans perspective.
Indeed, it would appear that Formula One circuits the world over need to carefully read their contracts and consider their future if the renewal date is getting close.
One problem currently facing Formula One is the emergence of Ecclestone wanting to go to developing economies and nations and to cash-in on new money. But the team’s don’t want any more than twenty races per season, and also want their summer holiday. This puts considerable strain on the logistics of the sport, but a solution is surely possible. After all, the sport employs some of the brightest minds the planet has to offer.
Unfortunately though, as Gman hinted at in his email, one solution is to drop some of the older circuits, and those who are not willing to bend to Bernie’s idea of night racing may also face the chop in an equally cruel and heartless manner. Britain is on the brink, France is on-off-on-off, Australia have been at war with Bernie for a while now over night-racing, Germany are facing financial issues, Malaysia courted some derogatory comments from Ecclestone earlier in the year and Monaco often comes under criticism for it’s cramped nature and inherent danger.
I am still utterly disgusted with the way the FIA and FOM have conducted themselves over this matter, and I just hope it is a brash negotiating technique by Bernie to improve the lining of his pockets. But to play it out in such a public way only damages the sport. After McLaren-Gate last year and Mosley’s antics in March this year, isn’t it time the newspapers were filled with “Great Racing” headlines instead?