F1 is dead? Protest banner provides a talking point

Fri Sep 5, 2014 2:45pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MONZA Italy (Reuters) - Among all the many banners in the main Monza grandstand extolling Ferrari and their drivers, one stood out on Friday as discordant as a V8 engine at an electric car race.

"Ugly new circuits, ugly cars, no engine sound. F1 is dead," it declared.

The protest, handwritten in blue and red ink on a white sheet, was still there long after practice for the Italian Grand Prix had finished and the fans gone home.

The irony of someone buying an expensive ticket, at one of Formula One's oldest and most atmospheric racetracks, in order to declare a lack of interest was not lost on those in the garages opposite.

"I don't think that one banner sums up the overall opinion about Formula One," said Ferrari principal Marco Mattiacci, while others made light of it.

"Whose garage was it opposite? McLaren?," joked Red Bull's Christian Horner.

"I think I recognize people from Formula E (the new electric series starting next week) putting that banner there," laughed Lotus deputy principal Federico Gastaldi. "This is a fantastic race, it's history. Come on."

"It seems a very strange place to talk about ugly circuits," agreed Marussia's John Booth. "One of the most iconic circuits we go to."   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives on the track during the first practice session of the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 5, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini