Jan 27, 2013

Nir Barkat bringing Formula One to Jerusalem

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat has been talking for a long time about this grand idea of his to bring Formula 1 (F1) race-car driving to Jerusalem. It looks like Barkat's plan is actually becoming reality.

While I could not find it yet on the F1 calendar (it could be it is not considered a "World Championship Race", to be on this calendar, or maybe details just have not yet been worked out completely), Mynet is reporting that it is a done deal.

According to the report, the Formula One race in Jerusalem will take place on June 13-14 of 2013. This past Thursday Mayor Nir Barkat announced the race. Barkat said that for the first time Israel will be hosting in Jerusalem the Formula One race, which will be going through a series of international performances, racing in capital cities around the world, drawing in hundreds of thousands of visitors. Besides for the importance in the motor sports world, this event is one that is image shaping that will place Jerusalem among the few cities in the world hosting such a high level international event."

The entire route is not defined, but Mynet says the route of two races will bring the racers past the walls of the Old City, going through Mamila, the old train station complex and by the King David hotel. The roads in the areas of the races will have to be closed for 3 hours to allow for the race and safety. Barkat is still hoping to persuade racing legend Michael Shumacher to come to Israel for the event as an honorary guest.

Viewing will be along the route, for free, with special areas designated with seating for VIP guests.

2.5 million shekels has already been included in the 2013 budget of Jerusalem for the preparation for Formula One.

Of those present at the announcement, City Councilman and Deputy Mayor Pepe Alou of Meretz, likely to be unrelated to the great baseball family Alou family (Moises, Felipe, Manny and others), was the only one to state opposition to the plan, saying this is not appropriate in any way to the city of Jerusalem. Alou said it would be better for the municipality to invest the money in an "Adeloyada" parade for Purim, or something else the city residents can actually benefit from.

I agree with Alou that Formula One is not appropriate for Jerusalem, but Barkat has worked hard to bring Jerusalem into the status of international tourism and entertainment. Barkat, to that end, brought the marathon to Jerusalem, and Formula One is another step in that direction. I like that it will give Jerusalem added recognition and appeal throughout the word, which will translate into tourist dollars. And just because Jerusalem is a holy city with high concentration of religious meaning and symbolism, but that does not mean it cannot also be a fun place to live, with clean recreational activities.

I can see it now - the cars whizzing by, flying over the Jerusalem speed bumps, rounding the traffic circles, with protesters of all types trying to throw wrenches into the plans.

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  1. Sounds like a horrible idea to me, routing it past the Old City. Do you have any idea what kind of a noise those F1 cars make?

  2. but as fast as they go the noise will only be for a couple of seconds...

    1. Nuh-uh. They do laps. And as the field spreads apart, the noise becomes constant (albeit less intense).

  3. I would assume that this will not be a real race on the circuit but rather some sort of mini exhibition. Formula 1 needs relatively flat terrain, and preparing the center of any city for a F1 race costs millions if shekels and I don't think that that anyone is going to rip up the new Yafo St light rain tracks. Sounds interesting, keep us posted

  4. F1 Races are normally held on Sundays with qualifying on Saturdays (Shabbat). That will be a non-starter. Even mini races need practice sessions.
    As with many things in this wonderful country, short term exposure trumps long term thought and planning.

  5. the dates listed in the article are June 13-14. That is a Thursday and Friday. Even though normally it might be Saturday and Sunday, it seems they were smart enough to not do that this time...

  6. A few things you should know:
    1) It is certainly NOT a race. The F1 Calendar has already been set and there is currently no room for another GP - which would in itself require tens of millions of US Dollars to get a contract for and probably serveral times that much to prepare the city to become an F1 standard track. It is most likely to be a demonstration - but I assure you, that will still be unforgettable.
    2) It WILL be incredibly noisy - I have been going to F1 races for 40 years but the current generation of F1 cars are the noisiest by far - painfully so - so if you're going to see it take some earplugs! When the same thing happened in London the sound reverberating around the built up streets was immense.
    3) Get there early!
    4) Re an F1 weekend and Shabbat etc - actually, there are precedents for qualifying not being on a Saturday. That used to be the case at Monaco.
    5)Can't see an Israeli GP being staged in Jerusalem, but no reason why it couldn't happen somewhere else in Israel, in time. The country desreves something as special as a Grand Prix. Baruch hashem....

  7. Kind of spooky that I agree with Pepe Alou. :-S


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