JUNE 6, 2007

Welcome back Switzerland

For many years in the early years of the sport, Switzerland was the home of one of the major Grands Prix of the year, at the exciting Bremgarten circuit, on the outskirts of Berne. But in 1955, in the wake of the Le Mans disaster, in which around 100 people were killed when a car flew into the crowd, the Swiss decided to ban motor racing competitions. Hillclimbs were still allowed but cars were not allowed to race one another. They could only race the clock.

This week, however, the Swiss parliament finally voted out the ban after a passionate debate in which some argued that the sport would be good for the country's component manufacturers and tourism and others argued that it was bad for the environment. The vote ended up with 97 members of parliament in favour of lifting the ban and 77 against.

This does not mean that the Swiss will soon be having a Grand Prix. Building a racing circuit in a country filled with green-minded citizens is not going to be the work of a moment.