away from Grand Prix

I AM really sad that I won't be at the British Grand Prix this weekend. But there's a pretty good reason for my absence - I will be racing in the World Touring Car Championship!

Like many a motor racing nut, I usually make an annual pilgrimage to Silverstone, the "home of British motor racing".

It's always fun as I take my motorhome and set up camp in the British Racing Drivers' Club compound.

Over the years I have had some pretty high profile neighbours such as Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard.

But this time I won't be spectating. Instead, I will be in the cockpit myself at the Brno track in the Czech Republic.

Before getting on to my own race weekend, I feel I have to say a few words about Formula One. It has been getting all sorts of publicity. If you believe in the saying 'there is no such thing as bad publicity' I suppose you could say its profile is high, which is good for the sport.

I agree when you see what sort of publicity Jenson Button is getting. You can't open a paper or magazine without seeing something about him. I noticed at the weekend he even got the front cover of the Sunday Times magazine.

It is amazing to think six months ago Jenson was facing a year with no team and an uncertain future. He is a good guy and I applaud the way he has handled the sudden change in circumstances and come out as a home-grown hero.

But I'm not so sure about F1's internal politics. I'd like to think the teams and the FIA all have the best interests of the sport at heart. But I can't help but think in times like these that the "discussions" they are having should go on behind closed doors. We really only need be told when the power brokers have sorted out their differences.

I do not for a moment think that with all those individuals involved, a solution will not be found. The sport is important to the manufacturers and so sense must prevail.

Then there is the really sad story that this will be the last British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

I feel as if I have been going there all my life and to think I shall never get the chance again makes me very upset.

I love the track from a driver's point of view and know the British fans are some of the most enthusiastic and loyal.

Just remember how they trudged through the mud when the race moved to the Easter weekend in 2000.

Mind you I have no problems with Donington. I have won there in the European Touring Car Championship and it is another great circuit. But it is a shame to move from one track with a great infrastructure to another that has to be totally revamped at the cost of millions of pounds.

Now, let's get on to my own weekend.

I'd love to think I could emulate my winning ways from the recent Race of Champions Legends event in Portugal.

I actually beat some of my all time heroes - F1's Johnny Herbert, rally king Carlos Sainz and motorbike maestro Mick Doohan.

It was a bit humbling to do this. However, I must say in their defence that, as I have done the event for the past three years, I do know it a bit better than they do!

I love the Race of Champions and really want to be there for the big one at Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium in November.

I'd love to win in Brno. I actually had my first BMW touring car win there back in 2003 and then repeated that in 2004. It is an awesome track and one I would have loved to race on when it was a 29 kilometre circuit on the public roads between Brno and Prague.

It flows and you can get a good rhythm. It is also over five kilometres long, our second longest track after Macau. And it has changes in gradient, going downhill for 3kms after you cross the start/finish line.

The weekend has to be about going for big points and in some ways throwing caution to the wind.

I need to get myself back up the front of the points standings and the only way I can do that is by getting two good results. All I can say is watch this space and I'll see what I can do with my BMW Team UK car.