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'From Formula E to Goodwood Festival of Speed, July 2023 was full of car-related disappointments'

Mike Rutherford believes that the last month has provided a constant bombardment of motoring misfortunes

Opinion - July 2023

The five weekends of jinxed July hopelessly failed to live up to our car-related expectations. Instead, they were dominated by unprecedented levels of frustration, disappointment and financial losses as events were cancelled, and doors and gates were slammed in our unhappy faces.

Credit where it’s due, the Super Touring Power gathering at Brands Hatch on 1 and 2 July got the month off to a reasonable start. It wasn’t a bad warm-up act for the real thing a week later – the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which I’ll remember for mixed emotions and harsh reality checks. Why? Because it was the end of an era. 

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The bright, bouncy Belgian-Brit Lando Norris effectively inherited the title of ‘UK’s Top Formula One Driver’ from a tired, old, disenchanted Lewis Hamilton. Don’t get me wrong, Sir Lew has been, and always will be, an F1 great. But he, and we, must face up to the fact that he’s had his day. Late 2023 is the time for him to make a dignified exit from the sport and spend his hours and huge wealth on good causes close to his heart.    

Wind forward to the wet, windswept and horribly exposed Goodwood Festival of Speed on 13-16 July and the Saturday was cruelly cancelled. Punters, exhibitors and others who paid big money to be there were, at desperately short notice, locked out. 

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Come 22-23 July at Lydden’s FIA World Rallycross gathering there was disaster of a very different kind – due to a paddock fire involving the now-destroyed electric race cars belonging to Sebastian Loeb’s Special ONE racing team. Rally legend Seb, plus fans robbed of on-track action, were as gutted as the burnt-out vehicles. 

Could the final weekend be even more depressing and embarrassing? Yup! At the entirely inappropriate Excel Exhibition Centre in a grotty part of East London, the final painfully slow ‘race’ of the 2023 Formula E season took place. Sort of. It was a debacle. The ‘racing’ occurred indoors (on super dry concrete) and outdoors (on very wet tarmac). Teams, cars, tyres and drivers couldn’t cope. On this evidence, it’s RIP time for Formula E.

So goodbye and good riddance to July, but a big, warm, sunny welcome to The British Motor Show at the Farnborough Exhibition Centre from 17-20 August. Inside giant, weatherproof, state-of-the-art buildings will sit everything from new cars to live stages featuring TV stars, professional racing drivers, motoring experts and specialists in motor trade/industry careers for people of all backgrounds and ages. 

Outside, one of the many ‘moving motor show’ highlights will be multiple world record-breaker Paul Swift and his stunt team – all driving hard, fast and loud in the wet, in the dry, in any damn conditions the British weather chucks at them. 

If you buy tickets from thebritishmotorshow.live, quote my promo code, ‘Backchat23’, for a £5 reduction per ticket. And continuing the theme, rumour has it that a leading car retailer at the show will offer, subject to the usual Ts&Cs, the deal of the decade: five-year, zero per cent car loans. Grab ’em – discounted tickets and free finance – while you can.

Did you experience any car-related disappointments in July? Tell us in the comments

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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