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Vatanen seeks to retain F1 heritage


FIA presidential candidate Ari Vatanen has revealed that he will make it one of his priorities to keep some of Formula One's more historic venues and events on the schedule should be elected.

Concerned that the calendar continues to move towards the sort of purpose-built circuit that have sprung up in places like Bahrain, China and, as of this year, Abu Dhabi, the Finn - who faces off against former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt in next month's FIA election - has said that he will do what he can to keep the likes of Silverstone, Hockenheim and Spa-Francorchamps a part of the F1 tour.

"I am in favour of course of some new races - the Singapore night race or anything like that - because we need to renew ourselves," he revealed to Reuters, "but, if we go to the places where the tribunes are empty, and at the same time traditional fans of F1 don't have a race, there's something wrong.

"The fact that Silverstone may not have a race, Hockenheim may not have a race next year, France may not have a race... it means we are alienating the traditional customers and fans and it is not so easy to win them back."

Silverstone was a particular case in point for the former WRC champion, who admitted that he was in favour of keeping the race at its established home, rather than switching, as is scheduled to Donington Park from 2010. While the British round is safe for the time being, however - despite repeated threats over its future - the likes of Germany, France, America, Canada and Belgium have either disappeared or cast doubts over their future involvement.

"I am not against Donington, but I am for Silverstone because I don't see it as a sensible move from an overall point of view to go to Donington," he noted, "We can have a short-term gain but a long-term cost, and Silverstone is the symbol of that."

The F1 schedule is only approved by the FIA after being pulled together by Bernie Ecclestone's commercial arm, but Vatanen is keen to see future calendars open to scrutiny - and opinion - from more areas.

"I give Bernie all the credit for what he has done over the years but now, instead of looking at a two- or three-year scale, we have to look at ten years," he claimed, "How F1 can be really developed.

"If the races are expensive to organise, if the ticket prices are so high that the normal middle class family cannot go with their children to see a race, it means that something is wrong. We are threatening our own future. we have to go back to square one."

After a year beset with problems, Ecclestone has given Donington Park until the end of the month to produce a bank guarantee to cover next year's race, with Silverstone listed on last week's leaked schedule as a potential replacement, albeit under the European GP banner.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Ari Vatanen (FIN), German F1 Grand Prix, Nurburgring, 10-12th, July 2009
27.11.2016 - Race, Roger Federer (SUI) tennis player and Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM
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