The state of the 2010 F1 calendar

Hockenheim, along with Donington and Fuji, looks uncertain for 2010

Hockenheim, along with Donington and Fuji, looks uncertain for 2010

With so much attention focused on which teams might be racing in F1 in 2010, less is being said about what circuits might feature on the world championship calendar.

Many circuits are facing pressure from falling audiences and Bernie Ecclestone’s unrelentingly high prices. There is significant doubt over the planned races at Hockenheim, Fuji and Donington Park.

With this in mind, which tracks will still be on the 2010 F1 calendar, which new or returning events could arrive – and which ones will be squeezed out?

British Grand Prix

Significant doubt surrounds the British Grand Prix’s proposed move from Silverstone to Donington Park.

Construction work at the circuit has caused races to be cancelled or postponed, track owner Tom Wheatcroft is demanding millions in unpaid rent from race organiser Simon Gillett, and few details have emerged concerning how the circuit upgrade and race contract will be paid for.

Ecclestone has emphatically denied that, if Donington isn’t ready, F1 could return to Silverstone in 2010. But as well as suggesting the British Grand Prix could skip a year in 2010 while Donington gets ready, he has also indicated that a return to Silverstone could happen after all.

Silverstone, meanwhile, has bagged Donington’s Moto GP race for 2010 and is planning revisions to its layout to accommodate the bikes. But rumours suggest other F1-friendly developments are in the pipeline too. Among the most radical suggestions are that Ecclestone could buy the circuit.

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German Grand Prix

The German Grand Prix is supposed to rotate between the Nurburgring (this year’s host) and the Hockenheimring (next year’s).

However in December the Badem-W???rttemberg government said it would no longer provide financial support to the race which was believed to have lost ??6m (??5.1m/$8.6m) last year.

The two circuits had begun sharing the event since the retirement of Michael Schumacher has seen a significant fall in race attendance – despite five of F1’s 20 drivers having German nationality. The Nurburgring round receives government support estimated at $15m per year in 2007.

Japanese Grand Prix

The Japanese Grand Prix is also operating a rotation system, between Honda-owned Suzuka and Toyota-owned Fuji.

However earlier this week it emerged that the organisers of the Fuji race are considering dropping the event after just two runnings at the modernised venue in 2007 and 2008.

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South Korean Grand Prix

South Korea's F1 track in Jeonnam (click to enlarge)

South Korea's F1 track in Jeonnam (click to enlarge)

The South Korean Grand Prix is expected to be the major new addition to the 2010 F1 calendar.

The 5.4km Jeonnam Circuit was designed by (prepare to feign surprise) Hermann Tilke and is located in the south-west of the country.

The addition of a new round to the calendar doesn’t necessarily mean another event has to be dropped. This year’s calendar was cut from 18 to 17 rounds following the last-minute dropping of the French Grand Prix.

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Recently dropped races

Several races that have fallen off the calendar in recent years have expressed a desire to return.

France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon has stated a desire to return the French Grand Prix to the F1 calendar in 2010. It is absent from the world championship calendar this year for the first time since its cancellation in 1955 following the Le Mans disaster.

However there are several obstacles hindering the hopes for a race at the proposed Flins-Mureux track (which, unusually, has not been designed by Hermann Tilke). The President of the Conseil General of the Yvelines departement Pierre Bedier, a key supporter of the race, has had to stand down from his position after losing an appeal against a corruption charge. And residents near the proposed site of the Flins track have raised many objections.

Similarly the promoters of the Canadian Grand Prix, which was dropped at the end of 2008, have had a series of meetings with Bernie Ecclestone aimed at returning the circuit to the F1 calendar.

However there has been little talk of a potential return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the United States Grand Prix. There have recently been rumours that speedway boss Tony George, who arranged the 2000-2007 races with Bernie Ecclestone, was to be dismissed from the circuit, but this failed to materialise. He is likely preoccupied with the affect of the recession on his circuit and the Indy Racing League.

The 2011 and 2012 F1 calendars

The Indian Grand Prix, which was originally planned for 2010, is now aiming to be on the F1 calendar in 2011. Ecclestone told the BBC in January:

Of course we will deliver… otherwise we wouldn’t have entered into an agreement. [India is] a large, large country with a big population and it’s good for the sponsors, car manufacturers and everyone involved in Formula 1.

A Rome Grand Prix looks increasingly likely for 2012. The circuit layout has been planned (video lap here) and Ecclestone is believed to have registered the name ‘Formula 1 Gran Premio di Roma’. This would likely scupper any lingering hope Imola has of returning to the calendar, despite getting a facelift since being dropped by F1 in 2006.

The Hungarian national government, which puts around $14m per year into the Hungarian Grand Prix, is considering whether to continue that level of support after 2011.

The Turkish Grand Prix’s contract is up for renewal after the 2011 race. Many circuits are suffering poor attendance at F1 races at the moment but the Istanbul Park circuit’s shortage seemed particularly acute last year. Keep an eye on those stands this weekend.

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Which events do you think will fall off the calendar in 2010? Will we continue to see European races fall by the wayside? And will the South Korean race happen? Leave a comment below.

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75 comments on The state of the 2010 F1 calendar

  1. kali_f1 said on 3rd June 2009, 16:35

    I know for a fact a lot of people that would go to the britsh GP if it was more reasonable and affordable – but with the greedy fat cats running the sport, it’s obvious that the sport is going to go only one way – a soulless event that only rich people can see with their wags who couldnt give a toss. If I were the FOTA i’d seriously think of a breakaway series – at the end of the day it might not be F1 – but I think F1 is running the risk of not being ‘F1.’

    • beneboy said on 3rd June 2009, 18:35

      Couldn’t agree more mate.

      Every year I look at the tickets for the British GP but once you’ve added transport, accommodation, food etc to the price of the tickets it works out being more expensive than a week in the Isle of Man for the TT.

      Compared to other events, like the WTCC at Brands Hatch, where advanced weekend tickets cost £35 the British GP just can’t compete, their cheapest weekend ticket is £119 !
      Parking at Silverstone on Sunday alone is £37, or £2 more than a weekend ticket for the WTCC !

    • Wesley said on 3rd June 2009, 22:11

      Well said kali_f1!

  2. Brian said on 3rd June 2009, 17:04

    My beef is with Bernie Ecclestone. He only thinks about where the money is and how much of that money goes into his bank account. I don’t know if it is only him that makes the choices about where the races will take place, but I believe it would much better if they had a completly different group of people that did reseach on where they would get the most fan support then make their schedule choices based on that alone. That way if a new country wants to make a bid for a race, it will be that countries responsibility to provide proof that they will have enough people to fill the stands.
    according to some research that i did, Montreal had just over 300,000 people flock to the city on the race weekend!
    B.E. is just a greedy old……

  3. Maurice said on 3rd June 2009, 19:57

    Brian. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  4. jayb said on 3rd June 2009, 20:08

    went to valencia last year and paid out over £400 for a weekend seat. what i got for that was, one of the most boring races i’ve ever seen and the kind of facilities that would make a non league football ground blush.

    i felt like i had been mugged by a little old man!!!

  5. Unfortunately, we can forget the USGP at Indianapolis. In an interview with the Indy Star’s Curt Cavin Tony George said that the race made money the first 4 years and lost money the last 4. And evidently the losses were growing. He won’t even try to bring F1 back unless Bernie drastically lowers his price, and I just don’t see that happening.

    I tried to find the link to the story, but it may have been archived already.

    • Gman said on 4th June 2009, 0:04

      Indeed, I believe that has been Tony’s position on F1 since Bernie pulled out of town after 2007.If somehow the prices were lowered or made into a decent business model for circuits, then Indy would probably be the first back in line. But as long as Bernie is running the show the way he is, F1 remains on the back burner at IMS.

  6. Tim said on 3rd June 2009, 22:32

    think its time to get rid off Bernie hes ruining the sport.

    • Rich said on 4th June 2009, 6:40

      Bernie literally *owns the sport, so that aint gonna happen.

      • persempre said on 4th June 2009, 10:57

        He doesn`t really anymore, Rich. He still has various companies which have different interests in the sport but, in the main, the sport is now ‘owned’ by CVC or whoever they chose to sell to. That’s another thing FOTA have been concerned about. Just who the Commercial Rights Holder will be.

  7. Gman said on 4th June 2009, 0:42

    From what I have gathered regarding Bernie and the calendar, he operates FOM not as a sporting or even an entertainment company, but rather as a financial entity- no different than a bank or investment firm. Sure he likes the racing, but that is just a means for him to make the money for CVC Group. The same could be said for many different sports promoters the world over, but at least they care about the fans in their key markets…..

    It is absolutely outrageous that we could be facing a 2010 calendar without raced in the United States, Canada, France, Britain, and Germany. Add to that the Australian GP having it’s future placed under threat in recent years, and you’ve got a situation where the key markets for sponsors and manufacturers are taken away or placed under threat, and the venues that are some of the most enthusiastic have gone missing.

    Sadly, this has deprived millions of fans the world over (myself included) of a race to attend in a close and cost-effective manner. But again, the car companies and sponsors lose a market presence in places that are very important. Sure, all the teams will tell you that they want to be in India, but you would also be hard-pressed to find even one who dose not value the market in North America and Europe just as much.

    I remember Bernie putting out his first provisional calendar in late June of last season- while I expect he’d wait until the debate over new teams settles down, we’ll see if anything similar pops up now.

  8. Andrew said on 4th June 2009, 2:42

    Laguna Seca!

  9. I am dying for imola to come back but the chances of that happening are getting smaller and smaller. Hockenheim in its revised version is beeter than half the tracks on the calender.
    Its hard for me to believe that better tracks cant be design by herman tilke and these other architects.

    I dont wont to wish death on anyone but bernie has murdered f1 and I wouldn’t mined if someone would do the same to him.

  10. I forgot to ask the question of why they just can’t run the french grand prix at the bugatti circuit. It looks like it would produce some good f1 racing.

    • beneboy said on 4th June 2009, 17:56

      It’d make too much sense.
      An existing circuit with plenty of history and adequate facilities, not a chance mate :-)

  11. George said on 4th June 2009, 3:22

    They should alternate races from year to year, for example in the middle east you could have one year the race on Bahrain, next year Abu Dhabi, One year Malaysia another year India or maybe Singapour, Spain can trade places from valencia one year to barcelona the other. this way you can please a lot of new venues and keep room for old ones. We should always keep Nurburing, Silverstone, Monaco, Spa, Interlagos, Monza, and they should give south Africa a race, with the places left from the alternating countries, you should Bring back France (le mans), Canada (Gilles Villenueve), the US (Laguna Seca) and Argentina

    • persempre said on 4th June 2009, 11:45

      Alternating wouuld mean only getting income from every other year but having the upkeep for two, George. It’s a bit of a last chance saloon way of keeping a GP when the going gets rough but far from ideal.

  12. George said on 4th June 2009, 3:31

    F1 Calendar
    3.South Africa
    4.Alternate Barcelona/Valencia
    6.Alternate Turkey/Rome
    7.US Laguna Seca
    8.Canada MONTREAL
    9.France LE MANS
    10.Britain SILVERSTONE
    11.Belgium SPA
    12.Italy MONZA
    13.Alternate Bahrain/Abu Dhabi
    14.Alternate Malasya/Singapour
    18.Japan SUSUKA

    • ajokay said on 4th June 2009, 9:39

      4.Alternate Barcelona/Valencia

      4.Alternate Jerez/Portimão

      and we have a deal!

  13. George said on 4th June 2009, 3:33

    correction!!! scrap india and put in the Nurburing

  14. wasiF1 said on 4th June 2009, 3:58

    Guys back in 1977 we used 2 have 17 races,after 32 years we still have 17 races.Dont u think that we should have more than 20 races,as there is no in season testing.
    I think Bernie should stop talking about money in this global recession & think how 2 expand F1

    • persempre said on 4th June 2009, 11:02

      All sorts of problems with having more races, wasiF1.
      More races = more exoense & particularly when it gets to a stage when the guys are working solidly from Feb/March through to November without the mid-season break. It would mean each team would have to have 2 ‘shifts’ of crew. Twice the manpower & twice the wages.
      While Bernie may like the idea the teams definitely don`t.

    • Macca said on 5th June 2009, 10:04

      I agree with you wasiF1. We should have a calender consisting of 22 races.

      It should start at the start of February and have 13 races (one every 2 weeks). Then you could have a mid season break of 4 weeks and have the next 13 races(one every 2 weeks). This would have the championship rapping up at the end of November and leave a 2 month break over christmas.

      Now before all you critics strat saying “yer but it will cost to much”. i couldn’t give a crap how much it costs, I just wont to see more racing more often.

  15. Ronman said on 4th June 2009, 7:20

    I’m an advocate of dirt cheap admission tickets at venues. make it cheap and people will come. but when it costs a few hundreds of whatever currency to attend a 2 hour race that you can get a better view of at home almost for free then what’s the point. i always hear about the noise, but I notice that a lot of people on the tracks put earplugs… and use kangaroo TV’s to understand what’s happening.

    Bernie, Max and co. make attendance cheap and then race tracks would return to be attractive and people will fill the stands… stop being greedy

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