Column: Bring Back Traditional Circuits
Traditional Circuits Should Return by Robert (founder of F1Fanatics)
Turkey, China, Singapore. Three major countries of the world, and all of whom are now hosts of a Formula One Grand Prix. San Marino, Argentina and South Africa. Three other major countries and powers whom used to have one.
The debate over traditional race circuits and their place on the F1 calendar is one that has been raging for many years now, but in the past 10 years we have really seen a major impact on classic circuits such as Imola being taken away and replaced with soulless brand new venues, the majority of which have been designed by Hermann Tilke.
Tilke’s designs are beautiful yes, and very efficient but bar Sepang in Malaysia, they are pretty poor in terms of racing and also in terms of atmosphere. Monza, was built in 1922, and although it has been extensively modified over the years it still retains that wonderful spirit, and an amazing circuit which has been the battleground for some fantastic races over the years.
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of my favourite events. It always throws something different into the mix, whether it’s Ascari ending up in the water, Patrese/Pironi/De Cesaris then Patrese’s fun times in the 1980’s passing the lead around with just 4 laps to go, or the joy of watching the modern millenia cars rubbing the walls and screaming V10’s around the city – its just perfect. This race will never be taken off the calendar, it just won’t, it couldn’t its too valuable. However, other people have seen this and now reckon street circuits are the way to go.
WRONG. 1 “street race” per season is cool enough in my opinion, we don’t need 10 of them. Valencia, was in all honesty utter tripe. I’ve never seen a circuit which looked worse, it felt like a building site with high sided concrete, poor viewing areas, a pretty ridiculous layout and so on and so forth. It could have been amazing, around the harbour of Valencia, a beautiful setting but instead it goes on a par with the 1981/2 races in the Caesar’s Palace car park. Singapore was pretty similar, the only thing that made the race interesting or exciting was the fact it was at night, and I believe Abu Dhabi will be doing the same so there is nothing particularly special about that either!
And what about F1’s new “Green” image. How exactly is flying 20 cars and staff around the world every weekend green? Did you know that the plane emissions from 1 flight to Australia gives out the same emissions over 2 entire F1 seasons? I’m not a green hippie, but in all fairness thats quite a lot!! Most teams are located in Europe, even USF1 are going to have a base there, so why not hold more races there? I’m not saying exclusively, I think that a Japanese, Australian, Brazilian and North American Grand Prix would be vital, I would even go as far to say that Bahrain is a pretty vital circuit on the calendar because of the challenge of the sand and heat on the cars and drivers. Not only would it score the sport brownie points with the fans and greenies, maybe we wouldn’t have to have all the green crap put into the cars to reduce the footprint from the air travel, and we could see some high speed racing. F1 is no longer the fastest sport in terms of power, the exciting part is the braking and the speed held around the corners, I can buy road cars which would put F1 cars into the dust in a straight line.
There are some limitations to the plan of bringing back the old favourites of Europe though. Firstly, I think I am with everyone here in saying that the Nurburgring Nordschleife is one of the most amazing circuits in the world (second in my eyes to Spa Francorchamps). This is never going to come back to F1, and in some ways it shouldn’t. The Nordschleife is a real relic, something special, something to tell the kids about and now something to take your own car for a hoon around and feel like Lauda, Hunt or Rindt (even if its just a Vauxhall Astra). Modern F1 cars wouldn’t work on the track, and it could never be safe enough. Secondly, the money. The old tracks just don’t have the cash, Silverstone proved that and that is why the race is off to Donington from 2010 – but that looks in significant doubt.
To conclude, there are some big indicators to suggest that a return to Europe mainly for the racing with some events straying elsewhere. Mainly the fan base, sticking a circuit in a shanty district of some third world country is not a good idea, the people cant afford food and water so how are they going to afford an F1 race? Crowds are diminishing even at the good venues like Sepang, and the stands have never been full in China. Spa Francorchamps returning to the calendar has been a massive success with teams and fans, everyone loves that race and people travel from far a-field to visit, so that should be a good sign surely?
This article is merely my opinion suggesting that traditional tracks like Imola and the A1-Ring should return to the F1 calendar. If you disagree, fair enough, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.