Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The 2008 Formula 1 calendar is being boosted by two races, after both Singapore and Valencia have confirmed they will host a weekend. Bernie Ecclestone has agreed deals with both after months of rumours, talks, meetings and speculations, and now the dust can settle.
The Valencian agreement though, has caused nothing but controversy.
At first, there were many questions about why Ecclestone was even considering the deal. He has been a staunch supporter of saying that no European country should have more than one race, and plenty of people thought that’s why the “second” German race was dropped. Questions arise because are Spain getting two races now that Fernando Alonso is the man to watch. Has the two time world champion pulled some strings, or are the people in Spain really that demanding?
No one knows exactly why Bernie has suddenly changed his mind, but all I'll say is Valencia were offering quite a few Euros for the deal.
He almost messed it up though, with a mistimed and misquoted comment. Speaking about the deal, he said: “The contract will not be signed until after the election, but I'm convinced it will happen.”
There were many rumours that he had said more than this. He had sided with one particular political party and was only agreeing to allow Formula 1 at the circuit if his favourite party won the elections. Needless to say, this did not go down well at all. The Vice President of Spain was livid at Bernie’s comments, and he quickly backtracked saying that it was purely the deal taking place after the elections he had meant. Not that the deal was based on a specific outcome.
Again, no one knows what was actually running through Bernie’s mind.
The new Valencia course is going to be a street circuit that runs alongside the harbour, just like Monaco does at the moment. Fernando Alonso helped to launch the car of his new McLaren on the streets of Valencia, but isn’t necessarily looking forward to it. He would prefer to see the race at the nearby racetrack. He says that Formula 1 is all about safety at the moment and choosing a street circuit over a track that has been optimised for racing is not going to fit in with that image.
Still, he is more than happy at the thought of racing twice in his home country. "But for us, so far as it is safe and they put in what is required to make it safe we will race anywhere."