What struck me in the July issue about the battle between Silverstone and Brands Hatch for the British GP was the general view that, for both drivers and spectators, Brands Hatch is the more exciting.
Despite this, BHL seems determined to transform it into a circuit capable of attracting the F1 circus. The attraction is, of course, purely financial. Global TV coverage, global sponsorship deals and the monopoly of the main players means that anyone who wants a share has to play to their tune. But how sensible is this, when the future of F1 in its current form seems increasingly uncertain? The end of tobacco sponsorship is looming and the advertising which generates TV deals is in danger of destroying the spectacle.
The regulations which now try to reconcile performance with safety, demand flat, open circuits with huge run-off areas. Television cameras can cope, but this increasingly isolates the track-side spectator from the spectacle. The spectacular setting and layout of Brand Hatch is simply too constrained to accommodate the speed and safety requirements of cars which rely on wings rather than rubber to maintain contact with the track.
So we are faced with the appalling prospect of a great circuit – one of the world’s favourites – being butchered to mimic another, widely considered inferior, for short term, if substantial, financial gain.
We might hope that someone prepared to play the long game might decide to use the unique characteristics of Brands Hatch to promote the sort of racing that drivers and spectators enjoy the most. In doing so, it might remain popular and profitable long after the current Formula One, now depending on the weather to provide excitement, has fallen prey to the passing of sponsors and the casual TV viewer on to something more interesting. Some hope.
I am, yours, etc, Steve Bee, Winchester, Hants.