Last year, Bernie Ecclestone made a rather controversial comment. He suggested the introduction of fake rain for some circuits, to spice up the racing a little bit. It wasn’t taken well and was slammed down by almost all drivers and teams, never mind the outcry from the fans! I however, was in favour of the idea, particularly after the Indian Grand Prix that we just… Well… Endured, for want of a better word. But think about it, The season started off so well but we’ve still had some down right boring races, Germany, Hungary, India and so on. All very unexciting and all in dry weather.
Think about the other side of the spectrum, The really wet races. You’ve probably seen them, Canada 2011 for example? It was perhaps THE best Grand Prix in the history of our sport, And it was in soaking wet conditions. Hamilton crashing into Webber and then Button, Michael Schumacher storming for most of the race, Jenson Button making 6 pit stops and 34 competitive overtakes, which is more than most drivers would do in a season, and taking the lead of the race halfway through the very last lap. Just a masterclass in driving. A truly fantastic race, Just like the European Grand Prix at Donnington in 1993. One of Ayrton Senna’s best drives; Starting 5th and taking the lead after 4 corners! Again, in the wet. Then there’s Belgium 1998. Who doesn’t know this one right? Possibly the biggest crash ever at the start of a race, then Michael Schumacher crashing into David Coulthard in the mist, And then Jordan taking their first win, with a 1-2 at the hands of Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher.
More wet races that stick out: Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso crashing in Brazil 2003, the very short race in Malaysia 2009, the Korean Grand Prix in 2010 which cost Mark Webber the championship following his spin. Need I continue? I presume not. The point i’m making is that a wet race, while great fun for the fans, really seperates the boys from the men and shows a drivers true skill. So, looking at all the fantastic races we’ve had with wet weather, It’s obvious that we should introduce fake rain, right?
Wrong. No good. Without doubt, Bernie Ecclestone’s ‘selection criteria’ isn’t ideal. It’s no secret that money is really the driving factor (excuse the pun) behind the selection of a track. Just look to this year for an example. Istanbul Park, famous for its long sweeping turn 8, is off the calender for this year. While it was popular enough with fans, it couldn’t sell the tickets to prove it, and got the boot. Valencia, which this year had a very exciting race, will not feature on next years calender, replaced by the ambitious New Jersey GP, which has recently been postponed until 2014. Valencia also couldn’t pay the bills and look at Spa-Francorchamps. Without doubt, it is one of the most popular races on the calender, and yet the reality is that it is set to go. Spa just can’t keep the money coming, and this doesn’t suit Bernie.
Now, I can’t blame him. He’s a business man. But the fact that circuits like Spa-Francorchamps are being replaced by circuits such as Korea, (or ‘Borea’ as it’s being dubbed), is disgraceful. Its decisions like this that could begin killing off fans. We don’t need fake rain, we need better decisions. Bernie should concentrate on ensuring that the popular races are kept, instead of going for the easy options, even if it does mean more money. I’ve no doubt that Bernie can do whatever he sets his mind to, He’s quite vicious I’m sure for an 82-year-old, and so I if he set his mind to keeping the historic tracks, The Monaco’s, Silverstone’s, Monza’s, Belgium’s, Montreal’s, Catalunya’s, he could, And he should ditch the Borhain’s and the Borea’s.
And hey, If he wants rain, He should come to Ireland! That’d be fun.