If this weekend’s Valencia street race is the Spanish city’s last, the cries of disappointment will be barely heard.
Instead, the opposition to the race has been shrill in the build-up to the 2012 running. A residents group calling itself ‘Circuit Urba No’ has published a letter to Fernando Alonso complaining bitterly that the race should be scrapped amid Spain’s financial crisis.
“The grand prix creates an illusion of fantasy accessible to very few people,” the letter to the Ferrari driver pleaded.
All the signs indicate that Valencia will not be on next year’s schedule, with Mexico slated to take up the 2013 date if as expected F1’s two Spanish hosts move to an annually-alternating scheme.
The first Valencia street race in 2008 was attended by well over 110,000 fans, but organisers this year are struggling to fill the vastly-culled 45,000-capacity. The latest dark sign for the event is that some firefighters are refusing to accept ‘volunteer’ status for their duties this weekend.
The city “has turned its back on formula one”, the El Pais newspaper headlined, estimating that actual attendance on Sunday could be below 30,000.
‘Circuit Urba No’ urged Alonso to “take off your helmet” in order to discover “the humiliation, inconvenience and hardship” endured by those around the circuit. And a spokesman for another opposition group urged Valencia president Alberto Fabra to “stop looking the other way” in order to realise that F1 is “a disaster for all Valencians”.