Friday, July 13, 2007

End of the Road?

Just One Small Change ...

As has been reported in several places, there will be no US slot in the F1 calendar next year. Once again, Tony George manages, doubtless with Bernie's connivance, to screw-up another racing series through his self-serving approach to running the Indy circuit.

The logic behind this is, apparently, that attendance has been falling since the first race a few years back (duh) and so taking a gap year will cause people to return again and all will be right with the world. Err, no; or even if that is the case then it will soon tail off again. And let's also remember that there were still over 100,000 fans there, hardly a small turn-out by any measure.

Clearly, the issues here are a) money and b) TV coverage, and they are closely linked.

Without the support of the major networks, sports outside of NFL football, NBA basketball and baseball are immediately relegated to minority status. If there is a market for racing, it's already consumed by NASCAR, which is almost a completely home-grown series and with a very different appeal than that offered by open-wheeled cars.

I have no doubt that George was arguing that, now numbers are falling, he should pay less to stage the GP, and Bernie, for his part, wasn't ever going to budge; after all, he never has before.

There is mention of alternate venues, but in this day and age, where the costs of staging a GP have become so huge, then that's really a non-starter. The costs of upgrading any existing circuit would be prohibitive given the uncertain level of interest, and it's hard to see another street circuit getting the nod (either by the FIA or the city luminaries who hold the reins in wherever it might be held.)

Best hope here is that the major manufacturers and sponsors club together and bang some sense into the various players to get this thing resolved for 2008. Indy remains the only circuit FIA approved for F1 in the USA and that ain't going to change any time soon.

Miss next season and basically F1 over here is once again dead. And that would be a great loss for all the fans here, me included.

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