“Motorsport should jump on closed roads”
Lewis: Brakes were to blame
Motorsport’s not available on the national curriculum. Schools around the country are far better equipped (at far less a cost) to have football, rugby and tennis in PE lessons than karting or Junior 1000.
What’s the point? That motorsport’s not easy to fall into. It’s not a jumpers-for-goal-posts kind of sport. It’s not cheap or easy to get started in. It’s not exposed to a wide group of people and those who are exposed to it discover a very high point of entry when they want to pursue it further.
That matters because the majority of sports thrive off those who find it engaging to participate, do so at whatever level their ability allows – and become fans of the upper echelons.
Accessibility is motorsport’s biggest issue and Wales Rally GB had a good stab at tackling that last week. The regroup’s return to the centre of Chester last Friday night, before each car passed underneath Eastgate Clock, was something of a big deal.
That put the WRC grid and the national entries front and centre before a mix of people from genuine rally fans, and locals who happened to be in the right place at the right time. It’s not a million TV viewers, but it’s something – and the streets were packed with those looking for autographs and pictures. That’s where it can all start… Taking motorsport to the people is one of the only obvious ways of easing the hurdle of accessibility. And there’s something interesting on the horizon: the long-awaited closed-road legislation.
When that comes into effect, British motorsport needs to grab the bull by the horns. Push for a closed-roads British Rally Championship round in England. Get the British Hillclimb Championship to put on a Craigantlet-style show in Southampton. Try and pull off a British Touring Car Championship street demonstration in Corby.
Big series like the BTCC, and events like Formula 1’s British Grand Prix, are doing well at the moment. But where’s the next generation of fan? Declining TV figures in grand prix racing are proof that with more competition than ever for people’s attention, motorsport’s long-term future is far from nailed on.
As the consumer pool shrinks it’ll be the national parts of the sport that die first.
There is not an easy answer or a quick fix, but outreach events can be a part of the solution. Of course it’s difficult, of course there would be hoops to jump through, of course someone, somewhere, will have to foot the bill.
But motorsport – be it at international or national level – has to fight harder than ever for its place in this world. If it loses that battle, the cost will be far greater than any of the above events would ever be.
Lewis Hamilton has blamed his stuttering start to the Mexican GP on an anomaly with his front brakes, which he says he was surprised didn’t make him crash.
Hamilton suffered a huge lock-up on his run to the first corner before skating off the circuit at Turn One and rejoining before Turn Three.
“On the formation lap I had a glazed right-front brake, I just couldn’t wake it up,” said the Briton, whose win in Mexico moves him within 19 points of Nico Rosberg.
“I had 500 degrees [centigrade] in the left-front and 150-200 in the right-front. So when I went into Turn One the right-front just locked. I was carrying so much speed there I was lucky I didn’t go into the wall or something.
“After that I had the biggest vibration, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make the first stint [without pitting early].”