Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, has made an impassioned plea for TV companies to regulate the availability of Formula 1 as she warned of the "pernicious effect" that the sport could have on the minds of under 18s during her speech at this year's Conservative Party Conference.
"Young men who see this sort of activity are much more likely to grow up with unrealistic expectations of driving", she warned. "These images, of outrageously expensive, beautiful cars being raced about at over 200mph by multi-millionaires can be seen by any child who is old enough to click on a remote control button. Boys who see these sorts of things will think that this is what driving is all about, when what they actually need to be told about is how to cope with sitting in a misfiring, stationary Peugeot 306 in rush hour traffic for six hours with two screaming children in the back and a nagging wife in the front."
Her comments have been praised by the Campaign Against Rallying and Formula 1 Racing's Evil Empire (CARFREE) which has been a long time critic of motorsport. "People say that these sorts of races are just aspirational fantasy and escapism," said John Benton, chairman of CARFREE, "but the performers in these sorts of things are risking their health and their lives everyday just to provide entertainment and to make money. It's obscene."
However, her comments have also drawn sharp criticism from a number of groups, including advertising companies and Army Recruitment Officers, both of whom say that ensuring that people have unrealistic expectations of things is all that keeps them in business. "The Government trying to stop people having unrealistic expectations is a serious threat to national security," said Captain Michael Yates. "If we actually told potential recruits they were fairly likely to get killed in a pretty horrific way for a largely pointless cause, then the size of the Army would plummet and Britain's defences would fall to pieces. Then where would we be when the French come sailing into Dover?"
Despite these criticisms, the Culture Secretary has said that she strongly maintains her position. "If there's one thing this Government won't stand for, it's youngsters growing up with unrealistic expectations," she said. "Becase, if we can keep their expectations sufficiently low, then hopefully they won't be too bothered when they're still doing a full week's work for minimum benefits payments in twenty years' time."