Dear, oh dear

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Motor Sport

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Sir,

I have just finished reading your report of the Italian GP at Monza, which I was fortunate enough to attend again this year. I feel it is necessary, as a motor racing enthusiast of 25 years, to query the entry fees charged at this year’s European (Donington Park) and British (Silverstone) Grands Prix. Can someone please explain why it should cost £60 (£55 in advance) at Donington and £55 (£50 in advance) at Silverstone for general admission? At Monza, the equivalent ticket costs 45,000 lire-around £19.15.

I can see no earthly reason why it should cost three times more to watch a GP in Britain than it does in Italy. Is there any wonder attendance figures are down? I suspect that the British public has finally concluded that we are once again being taken for a ride.

I have been a great follower of Donington Park’s revival. Even before Tom Wheatcroft began his reconstruction programme, I used to walk the course of the pre-war circuit, and vowed that I would have to attend should there ever be another Grand Prix there. Thus, on April 11, I was there in the wind and rain. The attendance undoubtedly suffered as a result of the weather. I couldn’t help feeling that the event was well overpriced; the half-empty covered stands (£120 per seat) tended to confirm my suspicions.

Sadly, I have just learned that there won’t be a 1994 GP at Donington. I am sure that the attendance would have been much higher had tickets been more realistically priced, and the circuit might well have retained its F1 race. Silverstone’s GP is obviously better established, but the crowd was down there, too, despite the summer climate. Some will say that this is because Mansell wasn’t there. There’s some truth in that, but Damon Hill is just as entertaining. I have no doubt that the £55 admission was equally to blame. It was a shame, too, that you were allowed only one passout to go back to the car/camper. It seems as though it’s all too much trouble for the organisers. Perhaps they are content to see the numbers dwindling.

At Le Mans this year (£38/310 FF for four days’ viewing!) the public were allowed in and out of the enclosures as many times as they wished. I really feel the British promoters and organisers have got a lot to learn, not to mention a little explaining to do to justify exorbitant pricing.

On the subject of F1 technology and driver ability, I personally welcome the news that cars are once again to place demands on the drivers’ ability. No one can have failed to notice that active suspension, traction control and so on have made the drivers little more than ballast in some cases. Car control, as exhibited by the likes of Clark, Peterson, Villeneuve and Lauda, has been a thing of the past. When did you last see a Formula One car in a full-blooded, opposite lock powerslide? Today’s drivers appear, by and large, to be an unsportsmanlike bunch who don’t want to drive, or develop, any car that won’t win them the championship. Therein lies the problem: it is the car, not the driver, who wins today. Imagine some of today’s F1 racers trying to tame a 640 bhp 1938 GP Mercedes around Donington. That would catch their attention!

Hopefully, we are now returning to a formula where the abilities of both car and driver will be equally relevant.

C Gibson, Edwalton, Notts.

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