Damien Smith's Off the line

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Vote for the best GP

There I was last month banging on about how Formula One should take note of the spectacle promised by the new A1GP series, and then along comes the Japanese Grand Prix. Not much wrong with F1 when it treats us to a race like that, is there? There have been some excellent GPs this year, but no way had there been a race to rank with the all-time thrillers. But the battle at Suzuka? It’s right up there.

As 2006 fast approaches we look forward to a significant landmark looming on the horizon: on June 26/27 it will be exactly 100 years since Hungarian Ferenc Szisz won the very first grand prix (yes, run over two days!), taking 12hr 14min 7sec to lap a 64-mile Le Mans circuit 12 times in his Renault. What a great excuse for a year of celebrations! Plans are already forming: the Autosport International show, in partnership with the Donington Grand Prix Collection, will include a display of GP cars from the past 100 years, while the VSCC will theme its flagship September meeting around the centenary. Here at Motor Sport  we’ve decided to get in on the act too — and we’d like your help to do it.

In our March issue we will reveal your choices of the greatest grands prix of the past 100 years. So will Japan 2005 be a contender? Or will you go for a long-established classic? A virtuoso performance from Nuvolari (German GP 1935) or Fangio (German GP ’57) perhaps? What about a Monza slipstreamer like Peter Gethin’s win by inches in ’71, or a duel to the flag like Arnoux and Villeneuve’s Dijon thriller in ’79 (even if it was for second)? Then there are the nailbiting title climaxes such as Adelaide ’86.

Your choices will be dictated by what you believe constitutes greatness. It won’t be easy, but we’d like each voter to choose his or her three greatest grands prix, ranked in order. Please get your votes in to us by January 6, either by e-mail ([email protected]) or snailmail to the usual address (just to the left of my mugshot!). We’re intrigued to see which race will come out on top.

Sadly, I won’t be here to collate the results. After just nine months at the helm I’ve been seconded to a challenging new role at Autosport. I know — I’m giving up a job I described in the April issue as the “best in the world”, and believe me it hurts! But at least I know I’m leaving this wonderful magazine in safe hands because my friend Marcus Simmons is taking the reins. I guarantee you will enjoy his stewardship. So keep reading, and Marcus, you’re in for a great ride.