F1 News, Views and Reviews

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.

Turkey....a bit boring?

Turkey....a bit boring?

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.

Imola, just amazing and totally synonymous with F1

Imola, just amazing and totally synonymous with F1

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.

Monaco, an absolute classic

Monaco, an absolute classic

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!

Valencia, just felt like a building site

Valencia, just felt like a building site

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.

Norschleife...one of the greatest in the world but it can never really return

Norschleife...one of the greatest in the world but it can never really return

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?

Spa has been raced at since the 1950s for a reason...its absolutely amazing!

Spa has been raced at since the 1950's for a reason...its absolutely amazing!

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.



4 responses

  1. James

    I agree 100%

    I fear that the men in charge of the sport have lost their way, particularly Eccelstone who is running F1 like a prostitution business…giving it away to the highest bidder rather than preserving the longevity and integrity of the sport. It is time for F1 to downshift into the chicane and head the other direction, back to its roots.

    March 24, 2009 at 9:43 am

  2. Thanks James for your kind words and comments echoing my opinion 🙂

    March 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm

  3. joeymac

    I am with you 100% on this. The best tracks are those that remind you of the great history of F1, the very ones that F1 drivers watched their heros battle on. I’ve been to many F1 races around the world and there has been no atmosphere to match that of Monza, even when Ferrari don’t do well! In fact, last year was amazing, Vettel entered the hearts of the Tifosi to such an extent that Ferrari should have already signed him. I also think that Sepang in Malaysia, which which pioneered the modern race track should stay on the calender, albeit at an earlier time of the day. It’s an amazing venue and I’ll challenge anyone to find a better viewing area than Sepang’s “F Platnium” grandstand. The older and more historic European race tracks should add more to their grand prix show (as in Australia) and lower the ticket prices, if they wish to fill their stands and compete with the modern Monaco wannabe’s. F1’s only hope for the future, is to look to the past.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

  4. In my humble opinion I would like to see a mix of old and new, not just new tracks whenever they get the chance. I love the history but also love shiny new things too. Of course I would not mind having mostly older tracks if they were modernized in their amenities but not have the track layouts changed. I sure do miss the old Hockenhiem. But most importantly being an American F1 fan when in BLOODY HELL are we going to get a race back here. Are we not rich and spoiled enough to host a F1 event? In some ways we are the sponsors’ biggest customers.

    September 23, 2009 at 11:36 pm

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