Thursday Thoughts: New Tracks, Deleting Tracks

This week’s Thursday Thoughts question comes from Dylan of Triple League Racing, who asks:

What Track or Tracks not on the current F1 season calender do you want added?  Also, what current tracks need to go.  And finally, if this isn’t enough, how many Grand Prix’s should F1 have?

To answer the last question first, I like racing, I like lots of racing and the more the better yet despite this I’ve always felt F1 should feature no more than 19 races per year (too many is overload) and no fewer than 17 races (too few means an agonising wait between events), so the calendars we’ve seen for the last few years have had the right number of races for me. I also like having an odd number of races – I don’t know why – so that leaves either 17 or 19.

People lose interest quickly and with too few events I can see interest waning. Yet most of us like to have off-weekends in the summer months to enjoy that time of year properly, so we don’t want to bombard everyone with weekly races. I believe F1 works best with fortnightly events. Back-to-back weekends can work in some seried but I really don’t think they do in F1 more than once or twice per season, so I’d ensure most races were followed by an off-week, with the exception of some of the ‘flyaway’ races.

F1 seems to be different to other series in that it can take a week to dissect the events of a Grand Prix, and then you spend all of the next week building up the talking points for the next GP. It isn’t just ‘oh I’ll turn the TV on to watch the next one’, there’s a whole cycle and that’s why we love it.

So… which races would I drop, and what would I bring in?

Let’s list the 2010 season and mark in bold the races or venues I consider to be essential.

Sakhir, Bahrain
Melbourne, Australia
Sepang, Malaysia
Shanghai, China
Barcelona, Spain
Monaco
Istanbul, Turkey
Montreal, Canada
Valencia, Spain (European GP)
Silverstone, UK
Hockenheim, Germany
Hungaroring, Hungary
Spa-Franchorchamps, Belgium
Monza, Italy

Singapore
Suzuka, Japan
Korea
Interlagos, Brazil
Abu Dhabi

That’s 9 essential races out of a possible 19, call it 18 if we discount Korea because it hasn’t held a race yet, so that’s half. That’s much better than I thought before I started, but still not enough. If Formula 1 is to keep calling itself the world’s premiere racing series then *every event needs to be unmissable*.

Some on the list have the potential to be better if the car tech specs are changed, yet there are others that will never be good. What’s immediately for the chop with no reprieve?

Valencia – the circuit is too long, too boring and uninspiring and runs through a dockyard. I’d tell the organisers this:  change the layout to run past something interesting like the Arts & Sciences building, any kind of landmark at all. While you’re doing that you can think of a circuit that does not involve 25 corners in 3.5 miles, which is as guaranteed a creator of bad races if ever I heard one. Or drop it completely – if we’re to have a second Iberian race, how about the new Portimao circuit in Portugal? Okay it’s in the middle of nowhere, but so is Silverstone. If Valencia can’t be changed let’s go to the Algarve.

Shanghai – nobody in China cares, and the races are tedious. I can’t suggest an alternative in the region, so let’s use this slot to bring back the United States Grand Prix at Indy, run on the current MotoGP course rather than the previous F1 course.

Hungaroring – the circuit has invested in upgrades continually since it first held a GP in 1986 and the circuit today is FAR better than the one we saw back then… but really, I think we’ve had enough. Let’s go to Brno instead, that’s a fantastic course.

Nurburgring – given the choice of the two emasculated German venues, I’d choose Hockenheim. Nurburgring doesn’t generate good racing, and at least Hockinhalf is wide enough for passing. We need a German race and Hockenheim is it. Plus the atmosphere in the stadium section looks awesome – it has dropped off in recent years, expect the place to be packed again this year with Schumi back and in a German(-badged British) team.

Let’s be controversial - I think there is an argument for retaining Bahrain, some races have been boring but others have created great overtaking so let’s leave it in – ignoring the proposed new fiddly loop. I also think it is too soon to make a judgement call on Abu Dhabi despite the dire race there last year – I’d give it one more year before ejecting it.

I also retain Korea on the schedule because we have to give opportunities to new venues – though we’re all sceptical because of the maps, I’d like to wait until we’ve seen a race there before we completely slate it as I have no doubt we will. I’d keep it for 2010 and be ready to remove after a couple of years.

Also unchanged of the non-bold items:
I quite like Sepang and contrary to many Tilke circuits it has evolved a character and is reputedly developing bumps, so it isn’t ridiculously smooth any more. It has always been an interesting challenge in its own right anyway and it remains my favourite of the new-generation circuits.

Barcelona stays in because we need a Spanish race and I can’t think of anywhere else suitable. The racing is not great at all, I know that, but where else do you go? Jerez doesn’t seem suitable, the Ricardo Tormo Valencia circuit is a bit Mickey Mouse for my liking and I’ve already ditched the street track..

Singapore – Today they announced they were reviewing the circuit layout for the 2011 event to make the circuit faster. I like that kind of thinking and they’d already made good changes between 2008 and 2009, so they can stay. I’d probably tell the F1 personnel to stop being so silly in staying on European time when they run on Japanese time the following week.

I’d move the races around to be more like a journey around the world, mainly to aid personnel travel. Start in Australia, stop in Asia a few times on the way back to the summer in Europe, with a quick visit to North America, before flying back out to Singapore/Korea/Japan and ending in Brazil. I’d also separate the two night races, one early in the year and one at the end.

Rules:
Albert Park to start the year and Interlagos to end it.
Monza always follows Spa.

My schedule would look like this:

Melbourne, Australia
Sepang, Malaysia
Sakhir, Bahrain
Abu Dhabi*
Portimao, Portugal
Barcelona, Spain
Monaco
Istanbul, Turkey
Montreal, Canada
Indianapolis, United States
Silverstone, UK
Hockenheim, Germany
Brno, Czech Republic
Spa-Franchorchamps, Belgium
Monza, Italy
Singapore
Korea*
Suzuka, Japan
Interlagos, Brazil

* to be replaced in 2011/2012 should it prove to be boring

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6 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: New Tracks, Deleting Tracks

  1. I like the idea of Brno. If you are looking for a Chinese alternative what about Zhuhai. The race was supposedly going there before Tilke and his warped imagination came up with Shanghai.

    I like Hockinhalf. We need to call it that.

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  2. I also like Hockinhalf. The word, I mean, because the old course was unique. If the esses after the Tilkish hairpin were skipped, there would be a second decent straight.

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