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Drivers eager to help F1 decide where to race

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Drivers eager to help F1 decide where to race
Formula One F1 - British Grand Prix - Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain - July 14, 2019 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton holds up a British flag as he celebrates winning the race on the podium REUTERS/Matthew Childs   -   Copyright  MATTHEW CHILDS(Reuters)
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) – Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says drivers know what makes a good circuit and want to help the sport select those that offer real racing rather than ones chosen for commercial reasons.

Sunday’s British Grand Prix, won by the Mercedes driver for a record sixth time, delivered plenty of thrills for a 141,000-strong crowd that flocked to Silverstone.

Until last Wednesday, however, when Formula One announced a five-year contract extension, the windswept old airfield track that hosted the first world championship grand prix in 1950 faced an uncertain future.

Hamilton, who had vowed previously to do all he could to keep the race on the calendar, said drivers needed to be part of the decision-making process when it came to what tracks the sport raced on.

“We know better than anybody which track we can overtake (on) and which track we can’t,” he told reporters after the race.

“There are ones that they (Formula One) are selecting for the future that we’re going to have not such great racing, the ones that are on the calendar that aren’t great,” added the Briton

“We’ve got places where you just can’t follow and its like a train. And so, what would you prefer? Having a race in those countries just for the sake of having a race — or do you want a great race like this?”

Hamilton did not say which races he was referring to but Vietnam, with a new street race in Hanoi, and the long-absent Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort are two novelties planned for 2020.

Zandvoort, a home race for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, is expected to draw a huge crowd but has also raised concerns that the racing will be processional and overtaking next to impossible.

Formula One currently has 21 races but is talking about expansion, with more races in key growth areas the United States and China as well as possibly returning to Africa.

Jean Todt, head of the governing FIA, told reporters at Silverstone the quality of the venues was more important than the number.

Hamilton suggested the drivers could suggest improvements to existing circuits and advise on possible alternatives, an idea his team mate Valtteri Bottas agreed with.

“Definitely it’s all about selection of the tracks. I’m sure many of the track selections for the calendar, it’s just pure political reasons and money, rather than actually focusing on whether it’s good for racing or not,” he said.

“From our side, it’s not that nice. We love racing. Everyone loves good racing, that’s how it should be.

“We’re very keen to give our input because we’re in the car. We know exactly which type of tracks we need to have good racing. We have the feeling. So we are very, very happy to help.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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