The Reuters global sports blog
Abu Dhabi’s new Formula One circuit has given the Middle East seemingly unbeatable bragging rights as home to the world’s most modern and lavish track.
“No one is going to top this,” commented Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone on his arrival at Yas Marina and he may well be right.
Spending billions of dollars cannot buy atmosphere, of course, and Abu Dhabi is a long way from Silverstone, Spa and Monza, but the signs so far are that the locals are pretty passionate about their motorsport.
“Monaco, Montreal and Singapore do different things fantastically,” Khaldoon al Mubarak, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi government’s business development company as well as Manchester City soccer club, told the National newspaper.
Marcus Gronholm’s one-off return to the world rally championship in Portugal in April will create a few headlines but do little to alleviate one of the sport’s persistent headaches.
That can be encapsulated in two words – Sebastien Loeb. The Frenchman is simply too good, a towering Schumacher-like talent who ranks as the most successful and probably the greatest rally driver of all time and whose dominance is definitely a double-edged sword.
Loeb is down to earth, likeable and altogether a credit to the sport. But his dominance is also, whisper it quietly, a bit of a yawn for those who don’t work for Citroen or speak French as a first language and who would love to see someone beat him occasionally.
Loeb has won the first two races of the season and can nail a sixth successive title this year. When he retires, people will doubtless wax lyrical about how fortunate they were to have witnessed such a once-in-a-lifetime talent. (more…)