Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Whatever happened to the Siracuse GP?

Ron Dennis has been saying that there are too many Grands Prix at the moment. And I happen to agree with him. People are also saying that there's too much testing, and there's no opportunity for new drivers to get into F1 now that the privateer teams, with the exception of MF1, have disappeared. Oh, and there are apparently countries like Russia that would like to host a GP but can't because we already have 19 each year. And by the way, why should Italy, France (if you include Monaco) and Germany each host two races?

What we need is some clever chap to come up with a blindingly simple idea that solves all these problems at a stroke. Step forward Zurich Gnome. In the dim and distant past, even before the Gnome family was blessed with a son called Zurich, there used to be lots of F1 races. Races that didn't count to the World Championship, but were run to F1 regulations. And there really were masses of them. In 1954, to pluck a year at random, there were more F1 races held in Britain than counted towards the World Championship. OK it's not a random year, I'm one of those sad people that happen to know that 1954 was a prime year for F1.

These races were held all over the place: Goodwood, Snetterton, Oulton Park, Castle Combe, Crystal Palace, Aintree, Silverstone and even a circuit called Davidstow in Cornwall. Around the world it was the same story. Sometimes there were two F1 races on the same day, either at the same circuit, or in different countries. It didn't matter. Some were quite short; the Lavant Cup at Goodwood, for example, barely troubled the scorers as it was run over seven laps, making a total of just under 17 miles. Others were even longer than today's GPs. The Siracuse GP in Sicily was 278 miles, which took Farina 2hours 51 minutes to complete but still netted him zero points.

Are you with me yet? Why not re-instate non-championship Grands Prix? Limit the number of counting rounds to 16, so that Ron and the other team managers are happy, but allow, nay insist that, other circuits hold races before being eligible to host a championship round. It works for everybody. The teams run race simulations anyway when they test. So why not race instead of testing? They test using drivers that don't normally get to race. So let the youngsters race and then their racing skills can be evaluated in an F1 car. The circuits are presumably making money out of renting their track to half a dozen F1 teams for a day, so they'd stand to make more if paying customers turn up to watch a race. It's great for the public because they can attend an F1 race and not have to pay an arm and a leg for it. And if a country like Russia really wants to get into F1, because they see it as beneficial, then make them prove they can do it. F1 is a valuable commodity, which is why Bernie trousers a fortune each time he signs up a new country, but the sport should benefit too.

Here's the plan. Make Nurburgring and Hockenheim hold the German GP in alternate years. Relegate San Marino, and Magny Cours to Non-Championship races. Let Russia build a circuit, pay the travel costs for the teams and hold a couple of races. Ditto for Mexico or any other country that is keen to get in on the act. Let the test tracks like Jerez and Vallelunga hold races instead of test days. Oh, and can I have the TV rights please? No, that would be unfair - the money should go to the teams and the circuits.

Except perhaps for the promoters of the three races that are relegated (and they could receive a compensation package) I really can't see who would lose from this. If you can, would you please tell me?


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