GP greats defend Silverstone

A trio of British Grand Prix legends have defended Silverstone's suitability to host British motorsport's blue riband event, following FIA president Max Mosley's scathing attack on the Northamptonshire track

GP greats defend Silverstone

Mosley, the president of the sport's governing body, described Silverstone's facilities and traffic management as "shaming" to Britain - adding further impetus to Brands Hatch's efforts to bring the event back to Kent for 2002.

But speaking at this weekend's Coys International Historic Festival at Silverstone, recently-knighted GP great Sir Stirling Moss and 1964 world champion John Surtees said the race should stay at its present home, while 'people's champion' Nigel Mansell has blamed a lack of local government investment for the track's traffic problems.

"As a location, Silverstone can never compete with the bowl at Brands Hatch," said Moss. "But that's not comparing like with like. Practically speaking, all the stuff you need to run a modern Grand Prix is already here at Silverstone, and that's all you need. Really, it should stay here."

Moss also defended the circuit against the parking chaos caused by water-logged car parks turning into seas of mud at this year's Easter weekend race.

"Getting blamed for the weather in April is just not on," he said. "Max and Bernie (Ecclestone, F1 boss) need to look at it realistically and not change the venue, just the date. What's wrong with going back to the traditional July date?"

Surtees, a world champion on two and four wheels, added: "I've been to plenty of Grands Prix and traffic jams aren't unique to Silverstone. Getting in is never the easiest thing anywhere. In terms of the actual facilities at Silverstone, I don't concur with Max Mosley at all.

"As an organisation, Silverstone must look inwards and always strive to improve, but it's my own thinking that there is only one venue to host a Grand Prix of today's magnitude, and that's here. Nowhere else could really cope."

Mansell, the 1992 world champion and a GP winner at both British venues, called on Silverstone's local authorities to help the circuit solve its traffic problems.

"The infrastructure of roads around the circuit is the biggest problem, not the circuit itself," said Mansell. "And for the roads to be improved, Silverstone needs help from the council. The problem we have here now is the result of these problems not being addressed in the past.

"But even if the infrastructure is sorted and improved," he added, "it's the heavens up there that we can't control."

Silverstone has a provisional May 13th date on next year's F1 calendar, but must satisfy the FIA World Council, the sport's rule-making body, that it has tackled its traffic and parking problems before it is guaranteed the 2001 race.

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