Low grids blight historic F1

The future of racing for historic Formula 1 cars is again under the spotlight following the opening races of the season for both the FIA Historic Formula One Championship and Grand Prix Masters.

Both series fundamentally cater for the same 3-litre Fl cars of the Cosworth DFV era and many industry insiders continue to question the viability of two European race series for largely the same cars.

To date, grids for Historic Formula One have been weak, with 13 cars at Hockenheim, eight at Spa and nine at Imola. The numbers picked up for the British Grand Prix support race at Silverstone when 23 cars arrived. The initial entry was over 30 cars, but late timetable changes contributed to a reduced field.

The Silverstone race (above) was won by Steve Hartley's Arrows A4 after Bill Coombs ran out of fuel in his Tyrrell 009. Meanwhile, Grand Prix Masters grids have been 16 cars at Barcelona, 18 at Brands Hatch and 16 at Dijon.

HFO boss Dan Collins says it is proving to be a difficult year and believes that the global recession has finally caught up with the top end of historic racing.

"Up until 2010 we thought we were relatively immune to the economic situation, but it has been a bit tough this year," said Collins. "Nobody wants to participate in a race with a poor grid and I can't say that it is sustainable. We've got to look closely at the second half of the season, but I can't speculate if both series will come together."