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 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 they staged a lavish £2million launch of McLaren’s car for the 2007 season.
Launching an unexpected attack on England’s failings in hosting major sporting events, Dennis said: “I have to say something a little controversial which I’ll probably regret.
“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.