Why the 2007 calendar is too short

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

Related links

Tags: / / /