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An open letter to the GPMA

NEWS STORY
09/03/2006

Dear Manufacturers

If we believe all the rumours, you will be meeting up with Bernie Ecclestone this weekend in Bahrain, and by the time the 'circus' heads off to Malaysia a deal will have been done which will guarantee the future of F1 as we know it, and end the threat of a breakaway series.

After weeks of rhetoric from 'bad cop', Max Mosley, 'good cop', Bernie, looks as though he has it all sewn up and F1 fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Reading the various reports, it would appear that much of the 'debate' revolved around money, but that's not the full picture is it, or at least we hope it's not.

Despite the manner in which both Mosley and Ecclestone have dismissed the Grand Prix World Championship and then the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association, we know that deep down they both knew you posed a serious threat, and consequently both reacted in their own inimitable way.

As providers of 'the show' it is only right that you receive the lion's share of the revenue, and that doesn't mean the manufacturers it means the teams as well. However, 'the show' isn't just about money.

Ecclestone and Mosley both talk of the damage being done to the sport as the manufacturers pump ever increasing amounts of cash in, yet what of the money being screwed out of the circuits, what of the money wasted as a result of constant rule changes, pushed through under the guise of safety?

Bernie, during a previous contretemps, once said of Williams and McLaren: "They think they've got me by the balls... their hands aren't big enough."

Well this time, you have his undivided attention. Therefore, before you sign up, realize that this is a golden opportunity for the sport.

We talk of 'the show' and that is exactly what F1 must become, it must entertain, yet it must also retain its tradition as the true pinnacle of motorsport.

You are guilty of driving up the cost of competing in F1, but so too are those that insist on continual rule changes that have done little to improve the spectacle, far from it.

Ron Dennis has previously said that F1 could learn from NASCAR, and that is true, certainly when it comes to entertainment. F1 must go out into the world and attract new customers, and it can only do that by taking off the blinkers and stop telling itself that it is the best simply because it is F1, it has to go out and prove that it is the best.

Being the best means providing the best entertainment and the best facilities. How shameful that a sport so obscenely awash with money can treat its fans in the contemptuous way that it has, I need merely point to the debacle at Indianapolis in 2005 and more recently the fiasco concerning the 2006 Belgian Grand Prix. Make no mistake, had Bernie or Max wanted that race to go ahead, it would have done.

How can it be that, while taking millions from track owners and insisting that facilities are state of the art for corporate guests, mere race fans, who have often spent a king's ransom on their race tickets, are reduced to using 'third-world' facilities, and fed burgers and fried chicken. An F1 race should be a big day out, it should be a major event in the lives of those that (pay to) attend, not a constant rip-off from the moment they arrive, to the moment they leave.

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