Each Grand Prix venue spends the bones of 12 months preparing to host a round of the Formula One World Championship, even more than that.
I once asked Bernie Ecclestone if Ireland could ever host a Grand Prix. He immediately dismissed the notion…and this was at the height of the Jordan Grand Prix era, where interest in the sport here in Ireland was at an all-time high.
Slightly taken aback by the ease at which Bernie dismissed Ireland’s chances of getting a round of the World championship, I immediately asked why?
First of all he said, you don’t have a circuit to host it, and secondly, even if Mondello Park was upgraded to the required standard or the Phoenix Park was manicured to such an extent that it could entertain the high-speed circus, Ireland/Dublin doesn’t have the required infrastructure.
“We’ve plenty of hotels,” I countered. You don’t, he said, reeling off the number of hotel rooms required for teams, officials, sponsors, media, spectators, etc. At that time, he had a point.
What about transport, public transport? He wasn’t wrong, Dublin still had a distance to as far as the required infrastructure was concerned.
But just imagine the excitement had we ever managed to secure such a blue riband event of truly global stature. The motor racing community would have been beside themselves with joy.
The build-up, the anticipation, the expectation, and the desire for it to be ‘the best’ Grand Prix on the calendar. On the hospitality front, Ireland would win hands down I’m sure.
I’m wondering now if Ireland would receive Bernie’s blessing? We do a pretty decent job with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Anyway, that discussion is for another day.
Bahrain has the honour of hosting the season’s opener and our appetites have been whetted by the recent tests in Barcelona and at the Sakhir circuit.
Max Verstappen was fastest on the final day in Bahrain, with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari second and Fernando Alonso put a late flying lap in to finish third fastest in the Alpine.
The Mercedes in the hands of George Russell ended the day fourth. As is the norm in testing all teams encountered teething problems with their brand new race cars, but in time-honoured fashion, most will have their wallowing and other issues sorted out come race day.
The conclusion from testing was that Red Bull and Ferrari were good straight out of the box, McLaren too appears to have found a good baseline with their new challenger.
Alpine showed promise too and while Mercedes with their controversial side pods, had some aerodynamic issues to sort out, they will still be there or thereabouts when the season roars into life this weekend. Can’t wait.