SEPTEMBER 26, 2005
Why F1 should not panic about A1 Grand Prix
The A1 Grand Prix series got off to a good start at Brands Hatch at the weekend with an impressive crowd of around 80,000 people turning up to watch the action at the Kentish circuit. The concept of running one country against another may seem alien to the norm in motor racing but the fact that in the media centre in Brazil F1 journalists from different countries were soon ribbing one another about what was happening at Brands Hatch suggested that the idea obviously has considerable merit when it comes to creating interest. The large crowd in England probably reflected more on the price of the tickets than on the quality of the unknown new show. F1 has a problem with ticket prices and the only way that will be solved is if the race fees charged to organisers are reduced by Formula One Management - and that is not going to happen under the current regime. There is no real need for Formula 1 to feel threatened by the new series but that does not mean that the powers-that-be in F1 will be comfortable with an international open-wheeler championship which is getting lots of coverage. F1 should embrace A1 Grand Prix as being a good idea and a great place to develop new regions of the world, producing new drivers, new sponsors and new circuits which may turn to F1 at a later date. Formula 1 would be better off if it were to concentrate its energies on fixing its own problems rather than wasting time with nebulous law suits trying to claim a right to the term "Grand Prix", as is currently happening in Australia.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Ron Walker may think that the Australian judiciary will agree that Melbourne has sole right to use the term "Grand Prix" but it is hard to imagine that any judge would come up with such a ruling and Walker is running the risk that he will at some point in the future be accused of wasting taxpayers money on legal fees for such a campaign.
There is a certain irony in the fact that while Walker is out bashing A1, Australia is being represented in the new series by Will Power, Will Davison and Christian Jones. Power and Davison are both ambassadors of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation while Jones is the son of Alan Jones, who was formerly a board member of the Grand Prix Corporation.
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