The 2013 F1 Series schedule was announced at the FIA World Motorsport Council last Friday. It features mostly minor tweaks to the pattern we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the last five years or so.
I’ll take the same format as yesterday’s IndyCar post, albeit it’ll be a little shorter as there are fewer changes.
- 20 races. This is arguably too many and I’m sure the teams think it is. These days I’ve taken the view that if I miss some it isn’t the end of the world, and I can watch them later at at time of my choosing. When there were fewer races they were all unmissable. Now you have to pick and choose to protect some semblance of life. I do think 20 is the most any major series needs, anything from 17-20 is ideal for me.
- Valencia gone. I know Valencia is a fantastic place to visit, I’ve not been but I know people who have and the place even looks great on TV (away from the back half of the track). The problem is the races are horribly bad. This year was an exception. There are no guarantees they’d all be good from now. Add to that the cost of attending the GP there, you’re better off going a week earlier or later when it is much cheaper. Valencia is a place to go as a tourist and lounge on the beach, not to see a race. It’s possible Valencia may alternate seasons with Barcelona.
- New Jersey in. As expected. This may be marked a TBC and we may have seen reports of contract difficulties, but the latter came from Bernie’s pet leak so I don’t give it much creedence. I think he’s trying to test how serious they are. Ask yourself, after 25 years of trying to get a race opposite the New York skyline why would he jeapordise the best chance he’ll ever have? No this race will happen. Whether it’ll be a good race is an unknown. It’ll look fantastic. This is also good because it creates a fourth race in the Americas after Sao Paulo, Montreal and Austin. It’s about time F1 headed West again.
- The Cool Factor. Remove the track or place names and list the nearest cities instead. Suddenly, you have one of the coolest schedules in all of sport let alone all of racing: Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Barcelona, Monaco, Montreal, New York, Budapest, Milan, Singapore, New Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Austin, Sao Paulo. Sprinkle in some classic racing names: Silverstone, Spa, Monza, Nurburgring. From a PR standpoint that’s unbeatable and F1 should be doing a LOT more than it is to promote the fact.
- Continuity. Multiple returning races in pretty much the same slots they’ve occupied for many years.
- Australia still first. Albert Park in Melbourne is the perfect season-opener.
- Brazil still last. What a great track to end the season with, such fun especially if the title fight makes it to the last round. Even if it doesn’t, great venue. Bit dangerous in terms of crime but they’ve put up with it for 20 years so another won’t hurt.
- Belgium is still there. Everyone loves the race at Spa-Francorchamps. It’s always in danger of being cancelled so it is good to see it still running on.
- Some poor race venues are still there. Whatever the positive commercial implications of racing in India, Korea, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, even Barcelona, the races there have been dire. I have nothing against visiting these countries I just wish they’d come up with better tracks! Some are also quite empty of fans. Not to mention the political dimension with Bahrain although that has been improving. Many dislike Singapore but I quite like it, it’s unique, and in any case they’re talking seriously about making upgrades to their track.
- Back-to-backs. There are a lot of back-to-back consecutive races just a week apart, just like this year. The killer for the teams and mechanics will be the run from September to November – just like this season there’s a stretch of races bunched close together. Great for momentum for fans not losing interest, not so great for the teams flying around the world. At least with European back-to-backs they don’t have jet-lag! I suppose this is all the price of having the long summer break which is essential.
- 2 weeks between Spa and Monza. Happy they are both on but I’ll be slightly hypocritcal and complain they aren’t on back-to-back weeks. Only because there was a chance of doing a road trip from one to the other and now it can’t happen! Plus I really liked these classics scheduled up next to each other.
- Slightly late end. Okay a crazy complaint from someone who loves racing, but March to late November is a pretty long season to follow especially including the ‘Winter Grand Prix’ of pre-season testing. An old off-season was too long though, so could we strike a balance and end in early November?
- New Jersey. Despite questionable sources we can usually ignore there are still those niggling doubts that it may get cancelled.
This calendar like most recent F1 seasons is a small evolutionary change. That’s a good thing, wholesale changes cause instability.
Other notable points include the moving of Silverstone from early July to the last weekend in June. I’m not sure why this was done, effectively it has meant the British GP and the Goodwood Festival of Speed have traded weekends. Perhaps that is a good thing, perhaps it isn’t relevant.
2013 Formula 1 World Championship Schedule
17 March – Melbourne, Australia
24 March – Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
14 April – Shanghai, China
21 April – Sakhir, Bahrain
12 May – Barcelona, Spain
26 May – Monaco
9 June – Montreal, Canada
16 June – West New York, New Jersey, USA
30 June – Silverstone, UK
14 July – Nurburgring, Germany
28 July – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary
25 August – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
8 September – Monza, Milan, Italy
22 September – Marina Bay, Singapore
6 October – Yeongam, South Korea
13 October – Suzuka, Japan
27 October – New Delhi, India
3 November – Abu Dhabi, UAE
17 November – Austin, Texas, USA
24 November – Sao Paulo, Brazil
I’ve added these dates to my TMR Google/iCal calendars which you can import for your own use. If you subscribed earlier in the year these should be visible to you already.