Low turnout threatens Valencia’s future

The European Grand Prix at Valencia could be axed next season, after a relatively low turnout for today’s practice sessions.

While crowds swarmed to the luscious beaches of the Spanish city, the grandstands around the Juan Carlos I Marina remained bare, confirming earlier fears that ticket sales have been poor for this year’s event.

Promoters, Valmor Sports, had previously been handed a lifeline with the proposed return of Michael Schumacher, in place of the injured Felipe Massa, and Renault’s reinstatement into the event. Although this did increase the interest in the race, ticket sales did not increase dramatically and much of the circuit’s seating will remain empty for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

However Renault’s Flavio Briatore insisted that the poor turnout was not solely down to the organisers, but also due to Formula One’s poor marketing value.

“We have fifty percent of the tickets sold here because there is no energy at the moment,” the Italian told reporters on Friday. “We need to establish energy and the appeal of Formula One.”

The Valencia race, currently in its second year, has forever been underfire, since its inception. Last year’s race was marred by a lack of overtaking and a rather lifeless backdrop of concrete walls and bare harbour.
Fans who attended the race itself also complained of poor seating, with many not being able to see the track.