Stewart: Losing the British GP would be a disaster

Sir Jackie Stewart
© XPB 

Sir Jackie Stewart has spoken out about the possible demise of the British Grand Prix, the introduction of the Halo, and who he thinks should win the 2017 world championship.

Stewart is adamantly in favour of finding some way to keep Formula 1 at Silverstone. Last month the circuit triggered a break clause meaning it will pull out of hosting the event after 2019.

“We have more people coming to Silverstone over the three days than any other circuit," Stewart pointed out. "F1 racing employs thousands of people in an industry where the UK is the capital of the world.

“If we lost the British Grand Prix, economically it would be a disaster," he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper this week. "The bottom line is that we can’t afford to lose it."

A long-time advocate of improving safety standards in motorsport, Stewart was just as outspoken in his support of the Halo.

“It’s not a matter of waiting for the fatalities," said the three-time world champion. "In this particular situation, the FIA is doing exactly the right thing to put it in.

"Some people will not like it but they said the same with seatbelts," he added.

"When you have a collision with a concrete wall, the wheel is the first thing to fly off," he continued. "Even with mechanical changes it still happens.

"A wheel could bounce for a kilometre at any height and hit the crowd," he explained. "That’s why race tracks now have debris fences. And no one liked those to begin with.

"The halo will come in and it will be accommodated.

"The key thing with the halo is that in the case that a driver is trapped or unconscious, the halo doesn’t prevent easy removal.

"It is imperative that it doesn’t prevent the driver exiting the cockpit. Or people getting to them if they are unconscious."

When it comes to which team he would like to see win this year's world championship, Stewart isn't backing Lewis Hamilton on this occasion.

He said that it would be better for the sport if there was a change at the top, with Ferrari his tip for the title.

In the 78-year-old's view, two long periods of team dominance - first by Red Bull, and currently by Mercedes - have affected F1's popularity.

“I think for the sport, Ferrari winning the title would be the best lift at the best time," he said. "That four years of Red Bull has negatively affected the attendances and viewing figures."

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