Why the 2007 calendar is too short

Japanese Grand Prix start, Suzuka, 2006We all have a few writers whose opinions we tend to agree with – but isn’t it surprising when one of them comes out with something that’s totally at odds with your point of view?

So it was for me last week reading Damien Smith’s latest The Observer column on Autosport.com. He agrees with Max Mosley that the F1 calendar should not be too Euro-centric – which I’m in total agreement with – but reckons the season shouldn’t get any longer.

On that point I must disagree – the Formula One season is too short and should be extended, not restricted.

The 2007 F1 calendar has 17 events – two less than in 2005, which was the most ever in a single season.

The Formula One season will last for 218 days – 50 less than the English football Premier League, and the teams that participate in that may also compete in other cups and tournaments, to say nothing of the national commitments of their players.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 2006, pre-seasonFootballers also have to do training. As of next year Formula One teams will ‘limit’ the amount of testing they do to 30,000km per team.

But that’s still the equivalent of 46 Grand Prix distances per two-car team spent rattling around some desolate circuit in Spain.

Surely we can agree on grounds of common sense that, now there is an agreement on testing mileage, that mileage should be swiftly reduced as far as possible and replaced with additional Grands Prix. It would allow more spectators (and lucrative VIPs, remember) to attend and further the international profile of the sport.

The counter-argument Smith presents is that, “too many races dilutes the importance of each Grand Prix.” Personally I thought the importance of each Grand Prix became horribly diluted when finishing second was re-valued at eight points compared to ten for winning it.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, Interlagos, 2005I believe the converse statement is true: That too few Grands Prix dilutes the importance of Formula One. The mammoth, 21-week off season is frankly far too long – team sponsors are getting next to no exposure for over one-third of a year because of it.

I don’t think F1 needs to go to the opposite extreme which, as ever, is NASCAR, with its 36-round championship. But I do think it needs to expand and become more regular. The enormous four-week hole in the 2007 calendar is a joke and will disrupt the continuity of the season.

An ideal scenario as far as I’m concerned would be a 20 race calendar with no longer than two weeks between each race, perhaps except for one three-week break in the summer as is currently practised. OK, let’s have some fun with the calendar:

F1 Fanatic’s Fantasy Calendar

Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, 2006, start (2)1. Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne
2. Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang
3. Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain
4. South African Grand Prix, Kyalami

The same three as before with one extra stop added into the ‘flyaway’ – a return to Kyalami to give us a race in the African continent, helping make F1 a truly global series once more.

Mark Webber, Williams-Cosworth, Monte-Carlo, 20065. Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona
6. Monaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo
7. European Grand Prix, various

Despite producing some truly awful races Barcelona stays because there has to be a race in the champion’s homeland – perhaps we could limit the amount of testing that goes on there, though.

The European Grand Prix would stay but become a genuinely European race, moving from venue to venue each year including Hockenheim, perhaps Valencia in Spain or even Brno in the Czech Republic.

Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Indianapolis, 20068. Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal
9. United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis
10. Inter-American Grand Prix, various
11. Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City

Canada and USA stay, of course, but a roaming Grand Prix of the American continent similar to the European round allows us to visit Long Beach, or Road America, or perhaps the Toronto street circuit or even a return to Buenos Aires?

A trip south of the border to Mexico returns to the calendar, too – at the Rodriguez brothers circuit where recently the Champ Car World Series ran, even using the full, mighty Peraltada corner, albeit with a chicane inserted.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW, Spa-Francorchamps, 200212. French Grand Prix, Paul Ricard
13. British Grand Prix, Silverstone
14. German Grand Prix, Nurburgring
15. Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps
16. Italian Grand Prix, Monza
17. Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul

The ‘classic’ European chunk of the season. It’s preposterous that the best international racing circuit in France doesn’t have any spectator facilities. Once that’s sorted out, F1 can go back there.

David Coulthard, Red Bull Racing-Cosworth, Shanghai, 200518. Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai
19. Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos
20. Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka

Lastly, the F1 calendar should always finish at its traditional end-of-season home, Suzuka. This final leg could also incorporate the South Korean Grand Prix in 2010, which looks like being very special.

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8 comments on Why the 2007 calendar is too short

  1. I agree and also feel the season should be opened to more venues rather than restricting the races, especially as fresh rumours circulate over the future of Silverstone and the British Grand Prix.
    I also feel that Suzuka should have a permanant home on the calendar, as should Spa, Montreal and Interlagos.
    I can remember playing an old computer game with some of those circuits on it, but I feel sad that I have never actually seen a race at these places, Mexico for example.
    As you say, the 21 week off-season is too long and the proposed 4 week gap next year is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time.

  2. I think you should include a spot for an Indian GP as well, although it’s probably still a few years away.

    I like your comment that there should be a GP in the reigning champs home country. What about having one of the roaming races like the European GP specificially in the champs home nation if that nation doesn’t have a GP currently? It might be difficult, however, since I’m sure some nations don’t have a legitimate track to host a race. It would be nice to see the infrastructure built up in different places however, and it would probably help bring in new fans to the sport.

  3. I agree – and a race at Kyalami again would be superb.

  4. I think there should be a return to Jerez and Estoril in the European GP.

  5. Anthony C said on 15th March 2007, 16:56

    “An ideal scenario as far as I’m concerned would be a 20 race calendar with no longer than two weeks between each race, perhaps except for one three-week break in the summer as is currently practised.”

    Say no more and yes to more international venues. An african race would be great to see. Should we another race in the States? maybe laguna seca? a wonderful track consisting of tight turns and wicked elevation changes. too much for an F1 car to handle? IF Nascar can do it, F1 can do it. Should Indy be sacrificed? Looking at recent events there and the embarassment shared by the F1 community over tires and safety i think put a blackmark on F1 in the states. F1 needs to shine in the states more, of course this being my own selfish anticipation as it would be far easier for me to attend an event. :) Taking a quick poll at my job here in Seattle and asking what people would rather watch Nascar or F1 in their backyard, the unfortunate response was nascar. Why i asked? combined responses seem to point to ease of understanding the technology better and a larger fan base makes it more exciting for chit chat.. argh… Anyone hiring in the UK or Italy for a lackey of the wireless world?

  6. Alpine said on 9th January 2008, 2:40

    Yes, Jerez and Estoril Should return. What about altrenating between Dijon, Paul Ricard, a revised Mangy Cours, and a new track at Reims? I’d keep the hungaroring but redo the awful and dangouras Turn #4. They should put in a race in Finland, maybe at an extended Keimola track. Think about it. 3 world champions (Rosberg, haikkonen, raikkonen) and Kovalanen looks promising, and no gp. Great job on the schudale.

  7. It’s obviously been some time since this was posted, and some of the ideas suggested above (India) ahve come to reality, while others (Singapore) have developed also. In the few weeks that i’ve spent visiting this website, I have found most articles to be outstanding, but this one truly shines- I tip my hat to the author.

    Since this was written, we are seeing expansion of the schedule, but in markets outside of where this article suggested. As an American, I was deeply upset when Bernie pulled F1 out of the US, and it is very sad to see him attempting what appears to be an identical move on our friends in Australia. Mexico also belongs in the mix, but I doubt Bernie would look back to it.

    Returning to Portugal would be good, but would Estoril work? I know the A1 series was there a few years ago, but I thought the track was outdated by F1

    F1 is expanding, but not in the manner which many of us would hope.

  8. Sorry about the duplicate post above- my keyboard is out of sync at the moment. To finish the Portugal thought, I heard that the Estoril circut was declared outdated/unsafe/etc.. by the F1 administration. But the again, we know how much Bernie loves to rant and rave about things like that (a la Silverstone) when it may not really be that bad.

    In any event, I’ve read of a new track being built in Portugal with the aim of bringing F1 back- anyone have any info on this? And Ollie, I remember seeing many of the old circuts (Estoril, Paul Ricard, Phoenix, Imola, Jerez, Jacarepaguá) in the game Super Monaco GP for Sega Genesis- a fantastic game!!!!

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