Dear Bernie, please put a race on here: Potrero de los Funes, San Luis, Argentina

The Potrero de los Funes circuit, San Luis, Argentina

The Potrero de los Funes circuit, San Luis, Argentina

This is the coolest new racing track I’ve seen in a long time – and yes, that includes Singapore.

The FIA GT championship raced on the Circuito Potrero de los Funes in San Luis, Argentina for the first time last weekend. It’s a brand new facility built in an old-fashioned way – following the contours of local roads around a lake. And it looks stunning.

Here’s a map of the track:

Click here to have a closer look at the terrain without the track outline in the way and you can see it follows the lines of the local roads almost entirely.

The Potrero de los Funes track climbs, falls and sweeps through the countryside of San Luis, and mixes tricky blind corners with demanding gradient and unforgiving concrete walls. Oh, and a lake in the middle.

Winding over hills, through lush countryside and past village buildings, it looks like a track F1 might have raced at the in 1950s, or some fantasy creation from Gran Turismo. No wonder the GT crowd fell in love with it. Promoter Stephane Ratel raved about the track:

This circuit will be a landmark in world motorsport. The legendary circuits are usually very fast, very challenging, natural circuits, not designed by computers. Circuits like Le Mans, Spa, Bathurst – and now San Luis will be part of these big circuits of the world.

Here’s a video showing a slow tour of the 6.27km (3.896 mile) circuit before work on it was completed:

The last Argentinian Grand Prix was held at the Buenos Aires circuit in 1998. In the 1950s the Argentinian great Juan Manuel Fangio drove to victory on the same track. (See the original, revised and final versions of the Buenos Aires circuit).

There probably isn’t an economic case for a return to Argentina. The local car market may not be a huge draw for the manufacturers, and San Luis doesn’t look like a Monaco or Singapore-rivalling glamour spot.

But such an gorgeous circuit in a country with a rich motor racing heritage deserves a place on the F1 calendar in my book. I wouldn’t even care if the cars just drove around in single file for two hours…

Update: Some video from the GT race, thanks to El Gordo:

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58 comments on Dear Bernie, please put a race on here: Potrero de los Funes, San Luis, Argentina

  1. Reminds me of Spa, my fave F1 track bar none.
    It’s a real shame that F1 (under current management) will not race there.

    *boo*

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th November 2008, 23:59

    Two things I’ve written about this year that have had practically entirely positive reactions:

    1. Martin Brundle joining the BBC
    2. Potrero de los Funes

    Can anyone think of any others?

  3. I think all this talk is rather futile. Yes, it’s a stunning circuit but that doesn’t really mean much, does it ?
    As far as Bernie is concerned F1 could be racing around a dollar bill. And we would still hear the same old talk about great facilities and “two or three” places which “encourage overtaking”.
    Yeah, if you’re riding bicycles.

  4. Fantastic circuit- this is the type of venue that we need more of on the schedule. Of course, all of Bernie’s VIP demands (helicopter access, paddock glamour, assorted other nonsense) will probably overshadow the great potential of this place. And we haven’t even gotten into the fees demanded by FOM and who would pay them……..

    The one point that I really love to see all of you making is that Argentina is a nation that has a rich and prestigious history of motor racing. Indeed there is a good bit of Agrentine history in the F1 ranks, and surely having a GP at this facility would sell out- if you could fit 200,000 in there, it would still sell out. These are the kind of markets that FOM should be looking to expand into and gain strenght in. If Bernie ever wakes up to reality, he’s going to realise that the companies involved in F1 are going to make a hell of alot more money racing in Agrentina/Mexico/Canada/USA then all of his Tilke-created dreamlands.

    That’s not to say that the new nations on the schedule don’t deserve an F1 race, but money should not be the deciding factor in awarding a race while countries with enthusiastic fanbases are shut out of the calendar for decades, as is the case with Argentina.

  5. motion said on 27th November 2008, 8:45

    Someone earlier mentioned Bathurst but you can almost throw an anticlockwise blanket over the layout. Maybe not quite so much rise and fall in Argentina. Good luck to them, well at least the not so arrogant and fiscally reckless among them.

  6. HounslowBusGarage said on 27th November 2008, 8:54

    This looks like a terrific track set in spectacular scenery.
    I was trying to spot where the start/finish was from the You Tube videos and the map, but I couldn’t work it out. Any ideas, anyone?
    It’s still public roads isn’t it? I wonder how much indentation truck wheels will make into the road surface over the next year; might not be so smooth and even a surface in 2009.
    It couldn’t possibly be used for F1 though; it’s more remote than Magny-Cours!

  7. HounslowBusGarage,
    if I’m not mistaken the start/finish line is in the straight to the west of the lake. Look in this image for the ‘Paddock’ section.

    http://www.fiagtsanluis.com/images/como-llegar-FIAGT.jpg

  8. Of course, after saying that I realized that the
    link given by Loki gives you a better view of the facilities, including the start/finish line (at the end of the straight I mentioned).

  9. Eric M. said on 27th November 2008, 18:49

    Wow, that looks cool. A bit too long for F1 maybe.

    I don’t think the length (6.27km) would be a problem. It is longer than any Tilke-drome, which average around 5.5km, but it’s still shorter than Spa (7.0km, according to Wikipedia).

  10. beneboy said on 27th November 2008, 19:11

    This looks to be an amazing circuit and it would be great to get F1 back to Argentina too, there’s far too few American races.

    As everyone has said, it’s a shame we’ll probably never see an F1 race there.

    Dan Brunell

    Should we put out a tip jar and see if we can put the $40 million together for a race?

    That’d be one hell of a tips jar mate, it’s worth a try though :~)

  11. Lady Snowcat said on 27th November 2008, 19:13

    It would be beautiful…

    Now we just have to find a way to make it economic…

    I know… we just all have to agree to go there if they have a race…

    I’ll go…. how about everyone else?…

  12. Howard said on 27th November 2008, 19:24

    I can’t see F1 there, but the idea of a 24 hour lemans series race on that fantastic venue makes me drool….

  13. Lady Snowcat: I’ll have to travel some 1000km to the North, but OK, I’ll do it ;-)

    Gman: You’re completely right, it would be a Sao Paulo-level crowd. A small fact: the WRC numbers are on the order of 1 million spectators for the whole weekend…

  14. Lady Snowcat – count me in as well.

    And heres $5 for the whipround Dan Brunell ;)

  15. Basically what we are saying is: bring back old circuits such as nordschleife, old hockenheim and preserve old-skool circuits as Spa. And get rid of the none good looking Tilke tracks as Bahrain/abu dabi/Valencia.

    to me, the first picture looks like a sunny day at the nordschleife

    cheers

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