Dennis is 'ashamed to be English' after witnessing Valencia successfully stage the European Grand Prix.
McLaren boss says UK can learn from Valencia
VALENCIA // The McLaren boss Ron Dennis has stated he is "ashamed to be English" after witnessing Valencia successfully stage the European Grand Prix. Spain's third largest city made its Formula One debut at the weekend, and in many respects did not let down the supremo Bernie Ecclestone. The circuit weaved through the marina and port which last year was home to yachting's America's Cup, although as with any "street" track, overtaking areas were at a premium.
The event was not totally faultless, and it lacked the glitz and glamour of Monaco, while there were few defining landmarks other than the bridge amid the blur of concrete walls and wire fencing which lined the circuit. It was too much to expect such a new track to be entirely faultless, but the problems were minor, doing Valencia proud 19 months after it staged a lavish £2million (Dh15m) launch of McLaren's car for the 2007 season.
Launching an unexpected attack, Dennis said: "When I go back into England and I go through Heathrow airport, I'm ashamed to be English. "Valencia is an area that is not the gateway to their country, and yet the local government showed vision to stage the America's Cup, to commit all the resources they did to turn it into a world-class venue. We also know how they embraced the concept of us launching our car there.
"They made available to us all the facilities that exist in the arts and science park, contributed to the venue, and we were a catalyst to the grand prix. To see what they've done demonstrates what you can do if you are committed as a government, local or national." Dennis feels London could learn a lesson or two from Valencia when it comes to overwhelming support to push forward projects, and to turn run-down areas of the city into futuristic places to be proud of.
With London counting down towards staging the Olympic Games in 2012, Dennis added: "Valencia is a testament to how you should do it. It's committed to putting in the infrastructure, to getting the resources right. "Next year it just needs to put in some more colour, the harbour needs to be full of boats, more signage and a bit more glitz, but it's got it the right way round. "It requires government support, and to me it is a textbook example of what you can do if you all point in the same direction and have the commitment.
"For me I can't understand the ridiculous squabble we are having in England over the issue of relatively small amount of money with regard to the funding of the Olympic Games. "We should be proud we've got the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, we seem to be the world's best at turning around and being unconstructively critical."300 * PA Sport