Sorting F1’s Calendar
F1’s calendar has been, and is always, a matter of contention. With a good variety of questions brought up to help complicate things:
How many races should there be? What should stay? What should go? Should some tracks have priority over others? What locations should be added to the calendar? What tracks should make way for new additions?
FOM has typically viewed it with a “simple” outlook to help answer the questions for them: Money.
What circuits can afford to be part of the calendar? Who can pay more?
It makes sense. Why have a race at one venue, when another venue can give more money for the same spot? And use that leverage to get more out of other venues as they bid to keep their spot on the calendar.
But the inherent issue is when beloved circuits are seen to be priced out by new tracks with money to burn. Especially when said new tracks are seen as characterless, with “cookie-cutter” elements.
This being said. There is a bit of a push back from some fans when it comes to introducing new tracks/destinations into the calendar. They wish to see F1 remain/retain its core locales, as they see F1 spreading itself thin at the detriment of the more “classical” tracks.
So where do we find a balance? How do we help give emphasis to the more classic locations, while allowing expansion to new locations in the hope of bringing F1 to potential new fans? All without over-stretching the calendar and putting extra stress on personnel?
Well I made up a concept that alters the current calendar, in the hope answering those questions.
[Disclaimer: This is all just an idea, some parts of which are purely subjective, and does not take into account logistics or contracts]
So, what do I want to see out of the F1 calendar?
Firstly, locations that have a strong history with Grand Prix racing, F1, or motorsport as a whole. I would like those tracks to have a presence in the calendar.
Next of course, are good tracks. Tracks that are proven at providing good racing over the years that we can look back on and see why they have their place on the calendar.
Then we have challenging tracks. Tracks that offer specific, or unique, challenges to the cars and drivers.
Followed by tracks that represent locations/fans/markets outside Europe. “Hardcore” fans may not like the idea, but I feel it’s important for F1 to have presence in as many markets as possible. Beit growing markets, or locations that cultivate a lot of fans F1 can get closer to.
That brings us to new tracks. Tracks just introduced to the calendar are great for bringing new blood to F1. There’s something “fresh” about F1 having a new addition to the calendar. And new circuits bring in the possibly of finding future classics. However, how long should a new track be considered “new”? How long should the honeymoon period last before we judge a track by the same parameters as more regular venues?
Finally, a balanced number of races. We all want to see more races, but there is a limit when it comes to personnel, resources, and flexibility of schedules and event clashing. So, to find a “sweet-spot” for the number of races for a calendar to target can help as a basis to move forwards from. With the example of Alonso competing in WEC alongside his F1 commitments, many could say this shows F1 has space to hold more races. But I’m of the opinion that I’d like to encourage F1 drivers appear in other series and show their talents elsewhere. It’s great for cross-promotion in both the series and F1. So maybe the number of races F1 currently has is a good balance.
That said, let’s see how that affects the current calendar.
The first step was to take the calendar for the 2018 season, of which there are 21 races.
This will be the basis for the new calendar, as it presents the current line-up of participating locations.
The next step involves ranking the locations under the following categories:
- European Heritage
- Good Tracks
- New Blood
With these in mind, here is the list of tracks I formed:
The list contains 18 entries in total. In this instance, the dropped locations include Bahrain, Spain, and Russia.
Brought back in order of appearance in the 2018 calendar the concept takes shape:
So, what is this?
This is an example of the new calendar. It contains 18 races, so there’s still space for new entries (or to put back in those taken out).
Among the European entries there are six with gold marks to them. These are European heritage races, and form together to create the European Heritage Cup.
And, as well as openings for more venues there is also a place for a wildcard location.
European Heritage Cup:
Starting at Monaco, points earned at the marked races will also go towards a separate drivers’ standings table. At the final race, the driver at the top of the Heritage Cup standings receives the trophy.
The point is to SHOW emphasis towards the history of F1. These aren’t just “another race”, these are races legends have raced in eras gone by. Its also quite fitting that it ends at Ferrari’s home race; given how they’ve been a part of F1 throughout those eras and have been there to witness it all.
It also helps to create more stories over the course of the season. The season can be seen as long, so to have some form of continuing event (with a physical goal) which finishes near the halfway point, means we can have it finish AND still have much to play for in the rest of the season. Plus, as the Cup begins a few races into the season, it could help those offset by a poor start to the season.
The Wildcard is an open invitation for a track to take up. Rather than be required to sign in a multi-year contract, a venue can apply to host a race for just a single year. This can be a purpose-built circuit or a street track.
This can help F1 to hold races in more places without being held to staying at a particular venue for more years, giving the opportunity for F1 to race in places that may not be able to commit to multi-year deals, and maybe get closer to fans who may not have thought they’d have the chance to see a race.
F1 just having the one race planned can make the event feel more special to the organisers (in a “we don’t know if/when this happens again” manner). Circuits planning on taking on F1 could use the “wildcard” to test the waters before committing to a long-term deal.
And if the venue doesn’t create the desired effect for a race, F1 isn’t obliged to go back.
Overall, the hope is to create a calendar that can give consistent intrigue throughout the year, with better emphasis on each race and what they bring to F1. Through the use of the wildcard; to produce better opportunities for more locations to be a part of (and involved) in F1, while not taking away from “fan-favourite” tracks. And produce intrigue year-on-year with a regular stream of new tracks/changes.
Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear feedback on ideas.