W Series, Brands Hatch, 2019

British circuits “incredibly disappointed” by government U-turn over spectators

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: MSV, the owners and promoters of racing at five UK circuits, are frustrated by a change in government guidance which requires races to be held behind closed doors.

In brief

Blow for British circuits as fans are barred from races

Jonathan Palmer’s Motorsport Vision company, owner of Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park, expressed their disappointment at the governments decision to forbid spectators from attending races, which other outdoor activities may take place.

“Whilst outdoor attractions like zoos and theme parks can reopen, and events such as boot fairs, steam rallies and food festivals can take place with up to 4,000 visitors per day, a specific ban has been applied to spectators at sport events – even at grassroots level – until 17th May,” MSV noted in a statement.

“This means that all events due to take place between 12th April and 17th May will now be run behind closed doors, and only essential personnel may attend.

“MSV is incredibly disappointed by this development. The UK government is now actively encouraging people to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, and circuit venues are by their very nature wide-open spaces like parks, with ample room to enable social distancing across dozens of spectator viewing areas. Nevertheless, we must comply with this new guidance and all affected customers will be contacted by email with options on how to manage their booking – including obtaining refunds.”

The venues had previously been led to believe that attendees would be allowed back during ‘stage two’ of lockdown. Under the current guidelines, all club motorsport must be held behind closed doors. MSV say they will welcome spectators at events after May 22nd, assuming the third stage of lockdown easing proceeds.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone stands to be unaffected by the development, as it is an elite sporting event and does not take place until July.

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Comment of the day

In the long-running discussions about sprint races and where they could fit, if at all, into an F1 weekend, Martin raises an interesting point:

Will teams be able to change their driver after Friday qualifying? Or do they need to stick with whoever’s in the seat on Friday qualifying for the sprint qualifying and the main event?
It could create fewer opportunities for other drivers to participate in race weekends (why let them do first practice if you need your main driver to be prepped for qualifying to set the sprint race grid) and a reduced grid if drivers get injured/fall ill and can’t be replaced by a substitute on Saturday afternoon.

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On this day in F1

  • 15 years ago today Nelson Piquet Jnr won the first race of the new GP2 season at Valencia from pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who was making his first start in the series now known as Formula 2

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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16 comments on “British circuits “incredibly disappointed” by government U-turn over spectators”

  1. Hopefully, everyone can now finally move on from Toto getting misquoted now that they’ve seen the full phrase and its translation, LOL.

    An interesting COTD. I hope teams would be allowed if necessary.

    Re the Canadian GP: Twelve months ago yesterday occurred the initial postponement that eventually became cancellation, so I wonder when will the final word come out concerning this year’s event going ahead as scheduled or not?

    BTW, the Alpha Tauri video is from Tuesday, so a little late for a round-up.

    1. Yesterday, the IMSA cancelled its round on Mosport Park (which would be scheduled on July 2) and added another Watkins Glen round instead of this round due to the quarantine regulations of Canada. So, it seems that Canadian GP will be cancelled 90%.

      Probably the Istanbul Park organizers are seeking to organize Turkish GP again on June 13 depend on the situation of Canadian GP. Even the COVID cases are increasing in Turkey now, it will not imply any quarantine regulations and the proximity to Baku is also seen an advantage. I think the announcement about Canadian GP and replacement race will be announced simultaneously before or after Imola race.

      1. @bengibaris Agreed. I became slightly more pessimistic after finding out about the IMSA event in Ontario earlier today.
        Istanbul Park indeed would probably replace Montreal on the still-scheduled Canadian GP weekend.
        I just found a piece regarding the matter and here’s the translation: (not mine, but provided by a user on another site)
        “It is obvious that a decision must be taken very soon, and when I say very soon, it is in the next few days, said François Dumontier to Radio-Canada Sports. Why? Because for us, June, it ‘s in the next few days. is tomorrow.
        The odds are increasingly slim, given the pandemic state of the planet.
        The first issue is the federal quarantine obligation. As we speak, the reality of things is that the 14-day quarantine could not be respected, admits Mr. Dumontier. “

  2. Yay, COTD! I’ve been thinking about it a bit more, and even if teams are allowed substitutes on Saturday, it’s going to stop most third drivers running on weekends with sprint qualifying. You would want your main driver to do FP1 so they’re ready for Friday quali, you obviously want them to do the Friday qualifying itself, and then I don’t see why you would want a third driver to do FP2 right before sprint qualifying.

    Teams that are forced to run a third driver for contractual/money/sponsorship reasons are going to have a more compromised weekend, and if sprint qualifying becomes the norm surely they’ll need to expand the number of testing days in the year for rookie drivers?

  3. Jonathan Palmer’s quote is another example of double standards in managing this pandemic, and it’s the same all across Europe. Governments order to « go out » but « don’t enjoy ».

    On TV commentators, I’m happy with the F1TV line-up and pleased to hear about a great Sky line-up too. Which reminds of hearing you @keithcollantine commentating during the WSR days. It was good work.

  4. On the topic of Natalie Pinkham doing the commentary for Sky’s FP1 coverage, I was actually not that keen on the commentary for that session as it felt like she was presenting the program rather than commentating on the track action.

    In that presenting role you need to ask questions & get opinions off the co-hosts but when doing commentary you need to be watching the screens & calling the action & she wasn’t doing that & it was Karun Chandhok who kept having to try & bring discussions back to what was going on out on the track.

    If she can make that adjustment & get out of presenter mode & start calling the action a bit more as a commentator she’d probably do OK, Was just on this occasion I don’t feel she made the switch she needed to.

    1. completely disagree. you are right about the difference in style but it felt very much like any other FP to me, did not bother me at all in fact I enjoyed it. BT’s motogp coverage debuted Gavin as a lead commentator and he proceeded to do everything Keith (previous lead) did wrong minus the grumpyness. Feels like Gavin was trying to do “Crofty”.
      I can’t stand the giggles and fake laughs, get rid of David Croft.

      1. @roger-ayles @peartree I fall in the middle. She was just Ok. But generally enjoying the practice sessions. Chandhok and diResta have interesting things to contribute, but I wish they would use Button more as I liked the cut of his jib from what I heard during pre season testing. Interesting AND funny. I don’t get the Crofty negativity though. I think he’s generally good.

      2. I agree that the session was quite enjoyable to me as well @peartree!

    2. I think I mostly agree with @roger-ayles in terms of the style & I think that presenter vs commentary assessment is a good way of putting it.

      Natalie herself wasn’t bad & I wouldn’t be against her been in the com box again but i’d have much rather the focus be more on the track action rather than been in that more of a presenter role & throwing questions to Jenson & Karun without offering any real opinion or analysis of her own.

      I’ll re-post what I posted elsewhere just after that session.

      If having Natalie do commentary for some practice sessions is something they plan to do more often then she & whoever else is alongside her need to focus more on the screens & calling whats happening on track a bit more than it felt like they were for FP1. I’m fine with commentary been a bit more laid back for practice but you still need to focus on whats going on to help inform the viewers & i’m not sure that balance was quite right this morning.

      I’m sure that & some of the transitions to ad-breaks & Ted been a bit awkward are things that can be improved if she gets more time in the comm box though.

  5. Fascinating summary of Williams FW07/08 weaknesses from Patrick Head.

    Perhaps no co-incidence that Williams decline started with Sam Michael replacing Patrick Head as Sir Franks RH man

    1. @frasier The things that led to the Williams decline were there before Sam Michael took over as technical director.

      The real start of the decline was losing Adrian Newey & then the factory Renault deal the same year. You look at the 1997 season & you can see the cracks appearing as they started out with the dominant car (A car designed by Newey before he left) but they failed to develop it which is a big part of why Ferrari/Schumacher caught & passed them by mid-season with McLaren (Helped by Newey’s arrival) also catching them before the years end. They were lost at sea in terms of both development & strategy as Newey was heavily involved in both & since they weren’t expecting him to leave they had nobody in place ready to take over.

      I think BMW getting involved & pumping cash into the team in the early 2000’s simply masked some of those cracks & delayed the perhaps inevitable slide to the back of the grid.

      And also worth remembering that even during the time Sam was in the technical director role Patrick Head was still just as involved in the Director of engineering position that he held from mid-2004 until I think 2012 when he left the team completely. Patrick has also been back with the team in a consultancy role since I think 2018.

      1. @frasier @gt-racer Slightly OT this, but it could have been very different as according to Ralf Schumacher, BMW was quite keen to join as a partner, but the old we-know-best attitude of Frank and Head put them off.

      2. @gt-racer yes Adrian Newey was a big loss, and apparently down to Sir Frank refusing him a greater say in the team, but they were winners before him, and recovered afterwards somewhat.

        Remember JPM was in the running for the 2003 championship right up until the Indianapolis drive-through penalty, I’d say whilst they were no longer dominant, they were at least competitive. At this point though, we now know that a row at the French GP led to JPM signing for the McLaren team for a start date 18 months hence (!) I recollect Sam Michael being a key player, but don’t recall the details.

        One can argue the talents of Montoya, but I’d rate him one of the fastest when he sees the hare. A succession of easier to manage, but slower drivers followed and they lost BMW. It was only the savvy of Toto Wolff that got them back into the winners circle (not to mention the fuelling cock-up with Hamilton’s McLaren).

        Mercedes power propelled them toward the front of the grid in 2014, but 2nd tier drivers once again. Since then a slow slide backwards. Becoming the Alpha Tauri of the Mercedes teams is now their best bet.

        Summing up I’d say from the mid-80s when they had their 12 year purple patch Sir Frank treated his drivers as though they were just a replaceable component in the car, history has proved him wrong.

  6. Mattiacci is someone i thought never to see again in F1. I wonder what he’ll consult about there.

    1. @balue

      I wonder what he’ll consult about there

      Sunglasses for sure. Remember that Lawrence other than being a team owner, he is a fashion magnate too.

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