While we’re all aware that we live in an ever-changing world, knowing that if it didn’t change it would stagnate, there are many of us who resist change for change’s sake and do not always agree that ‘new is better’.
This came home to me while having a drink with a man from the world of big business before the French GP at Paul Ricard. He was making his first visit to a big race and was expressing his admiration of the facilities – the pits, paddock, hospitality suites and air-conditioned press room with its view overlooking the start from a glass-fronted stand.
While agreeing that it was all magnificent stuff, we had to point out that the circuit was dull, no comparison in driving spectacle to Clermont-Ferrand, Rouen or Reims, none of which our friend knew anything about. When we said we would rather sit in a fly-infested, tatty old grandstand and watch two cars battle it out past the Reims pits, waiting to see which would give way as they went under the Dunlop Bridge, or battle through undergrowth at Rouen to get a glimpse of a car going down the swerves after the pits, or climb the hills of the Auvergne to watch cars at Clermont-Ferrand, he realised there could be more to visiting a race than having a drink in a suite. But we pointed out that we were old-fashioned and selfish, for drivers have been killed at all of these and nobody will ever get killed at Paul Ricard, so the new home for the French GP has the support of the drivers. Also, the mechanics have a nicer time working in the permanent pits instead of grovelling about in the dust. After all, there are only 26 people on the track, so why should the circuit be important? It’s the facilities for the 2600 people involved in keeping the ‘circus’ going that needs to be given priority, or have I got my values crossed up? – Yours DSJ
Denis Jenkinson was our famous Continental correspondent for more than 40 years.