Honda website
Honda website

APRIL 30, 2002

Another GP venue?

THE town of Mahon on the island of Menorca, one of Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, is not the first place to leap to mind as a possible venue for a Grand Prix but we hear the islanders, keen to boost tourist revenues, are studying a proposal to host a race around the Ciutadella section of Mahon, the capital of the island.

The plan is believed to be backed by the Spanish who have long believed that they do not receive the recognition they should from the motor racing authorities. They argue that Germany, Italy and France all have two Grands Prix each year and that they too should be thus recognized. There was talk of an Andorran Grand Prix in the 1980s to fulfil such a role and as Gibraltar is too distant to be taken seriously, the Spaniards have looked offshore to the Balearic Islands.

Menorca is the second largest of the islands and is not only a spectacularly beautiful place but also needs more international exposure to boost tourist revenues as the traditional footwear, cattle and cheese industries are fading. Menorca has been promoting toursim since the 1950s.

The choice of venue would be welcomed in the British-dominated F1 world as the islands, which were British-ruled in the 18th century, retain a rather British character and any words in the menorqui language derived from English. The British influence is also seen in the Georgian architecture on the island.

Mahon is the most famous as being the birthplace of mayonnaise, a word invented by the Duc de Richelieu after his chef ran out of ingredients for a sauce and so created a new one from olive oil and eggs while preparing a victory dinner after the defeat of the British fleet at Mahon in 1756. The name comes from the word mahonesa (which means girl from Mahon) and Richelieu was convinced of the sauce's aphrodisiac qualities. He was very successful in this aspect of his life as he has gone down in history as having been the cause of a unique duel between two ladies who were fighting over his attentions. The duel was fought in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and resulted in Madame de Polignac shooting Madame de Nesle.

The GP might even end up being called the Mayonnaise Grand Prix, which would no doubt offer considerable marketing opportunities with sauce makers around the world.

The event is in direct competition with plans being discussed in Turkey.