Formula 1

Solving F1’s Calendar Problems

Before China was postponed, this year was supposed to be the longest season in World Championship history.

It was meant to consist of 22 races held from 15 March to 29 November on five continents. Liberty want to add even more venues in the future, starting with their own version of New Jersey with a probably-never-going-to-happen race in Miami. This schedule is a long, long way away from the first World Championship in 1950, which consisted of seven races held from 13 May to 3 September over two continents. If you take away the Indianapolis 500, which you should, because it was run to completely different rules and had no representation from anyone regularly participating in the championship, that comes down to six races in one continent. This is discounting, of course, the numerous non-championship races that were held back then. Now obviously, there is no way we should go back to how it was then, mostly because you can’t put the word “World” into a series that only takes place in one continent. However, I would argue that the championship calendar has some serious problems that need addressing.

Firstly, there are too many terrible races. Some fans will say that more F1 is better regardless and whilst I agree with that to an extent, what’s the point of having more races if they’re rubbish? Sochi and Yas Marina are the worst offenders here and should never have any place on any professional motor racing schedule, but even places like Shanghai, Mexico, Baku and Barcelona are just not very good circuits. Shanghai is just kind of there; Baku may have produced two exciting races and has a decent final sector, but the rest of the track is just like Sochi and Yas Marina; Mexico used to be great but was butchered by Hermann Tilke and his mates; and Barcelona is useless because the teams test there so much that it’s completely predictable. Notice here that these circuits are ones that have either been built or rebuilt in the last 20 years. The good ones from that period are Malaysia, Turkey, Singapore and Austin, but the former two have since been removed from the schedule, seemingly to never return. You may be wondering why I haven’t included Paul Ricard and the redesigned Hockenheim on here, but all will be explained.

Secondly, the support staff. The people you see packing and unpacking equipment at races are the ones who suffer the most with this busy diary, much more so than those in the spotlight. The intense schedule for the teams themselves has been the most contentious issue when discussing extra races. What doesn’t help is the bizarre way the calendar is laid out. We start in Australia and then have Bahrain straight afterwards. Two weeks after that is Vietnam, which would have been followed by China two weeks after that. Nothing wrong so far. Then we have the European legs, starting with the Netherlands and ending with Italy. Nothing wrong with that, but why is Canada right in the middle of those European races? I know the weather is nicer but in terms of travel, to go from Azerbaijan to Canada and then back to France seems ludicrous. Why not put Canada with America and Mexico at the end of the season? Same with Abu Dhabi. If you must have it on the schedule, why not pair it with Bahrain? Apart from it absolutely not deserving the coveted final race slot, this would make much more sense geographically. If F1 is to reduce its carbon footprint and make life easier for the teams then this needs to be sorted.

Thirdly, the prestige of the races. World Championship races should be coveted, prestigious and special. If you just keep adding more and more then all that is lost and it will soon be no more important to win at Monaco than at Abu Dhabi. I would also argue that for an event to become part of the World Championship, it must hold a non-championship race first, to avoid situations like Korea in 2010. If I was to be completely honest, there are only thirteen events, past and present, that qualify for World Championship status: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Singapore, South Africa and the United States. Why? Well, Belgium Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Monaco have all been around from the very first years and have held the most races. These events should always be on the calendar. It astonishes me that more effort hasn’t been put in to keep Germany on the calendar permanently and that France was away for ten years, despite the fact that Germany isn’t held at the Nurburgring and France is held at Paul Ricard. America is F1’s biggest potential audience and that spills over into Canada. Japan has been a constant presence over the last 30 years and the event is held at one of the two best tracks in the world. Brazil is the biggest race in South America, as is the case with Australia in Australasia or Oceania or whatever it’s called. South Africa will most likely be a surprise to some, but if you want to be a true World Championship, then a race on all six major continents is necessary and Kyalami is the best track in Africa by a country mile. Finally, Singapore is totally unique, being held at night on a challenging street circuit in difficult, humid conditions and with it also being the longest race in terms of time, it’s the ultimate challenge for the drivers. I’d be happy to just have these 13 races on the schedule because I’d build every one of them up to the extent where if you one a race, it would be almost as important as winning the championship.

However, I’m not totally stupid and am perfectly aware that this will never happen. Besides, Austria and Bahrain are okay, Spain would be if it was held at Jerez or Valencia (which are Grade 1 tracks), Netherlands will be great and Malaysia and Turkey were good recent additions. So with all this in mind, to finish this off I’m going to give you my revised World Championship schedule. Note that I’ve only chosen tracks that are FIA Grade 1, as this is the only standard of track that F1 cars are allowed to race on. So despite me wanting it on here, Kyalami is not present because it’s only a Grade 2 track.

1. Melbourne, Australia

2. Sepang, Malaysia

3. Marina Bay, Singapore

4. Buriram, Thailand

5. Imola, San Marino

6. Monte Carlo, Monaco

7. Jerez, Spain

8. Paul Ricard, France

9. Silverstone, Britain

10. Red Bull Ring, Austria

11. Nurburgring, Germany

12. Zandvoort, Netherlands

13. Spa, Belgium

14. Monza, Italy

15. Montreal, Canada

16. Austin, United States

17. Suzuka, Japan

18. Interlagos, Brazil


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