Should F1 race venues be rotated?

Debates and polls

Start, Hockenheim, 2010A new fashion for venues sharing a place on the F1 calendar is emerging.

The German Grand Prix has been shared between the Nurburgring and Hockenheimring since 2007.

The Japanese Grand Prix was briefly shared between Suzuka and Fuji, before the latter ended its brief return to the F1 calendar.

Spain’s two F1 circuits are rumoured to be planning a similar arrangement in the near future.

And the Belgian round is expected to enter a race-share deal with France, where Spa-Francorchamps and Paul Ricard will hold rounds of the world championship every other year.

For

Race rotation is nothing new: The British Grand Prix was shared between Silverstone and Brands Hatch (and, before that, Aintree) until 1987. The French Grand Prix was shared between numerous circuits including Paul Ricard and Dijon before it too became a one-track race in the mid-eighties.

Rotating one round between more than one venue does bring more variety to the calendar – though this is perhaps a mixed blessing for those fans who count on making an annual trip to the same circuit closest to them.

Race organisers who have taken up race-share deals recently have done so to spread out the high cost of holding F1 races – most of which is the fees imposed by Formula One Group.

Against

Although race organisers can save money by only holding races every other year, it also deprives them of the chance to earn money through gate receipts.

Only holding F1 races in alternate years also makes it harder for them to justify spending money on upgrading their facilities.

The recent example of the World Rally Championship provides a compelling case against relying on race rotation. Its calendar has shrunk in size since its organisers began pushing for race rotation and the popularity of the sport has suffered.

I say

Fans may appreciate greater the diversity in calendar that comes with race rotation. But this is not why it is being done.

Rather, it is symptomatic of the huge financial pressures on circuits that hold rounds of the world championship.

The high cost of holding races is increasingly being passed on to fans in the form of higher ticket prices. As a result, many circuits are already seeing poor or falling attendance. F1’s move away from free-to-air television is only going to exacerbate this.

Rotating one round of the championship between two venues seems like a short-term fix that doesn’t solve the root problem.

Worse, it tends to affect historic races at classic venues more than the new breed of races at identikit ‘Tilkedromes’.

You say

Do you like to see F1 races rotated between venues from year to year? What does it say about the state of the sport if some races are unable to take place every year?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Are you in favour of races being rotated in alternate years?

  • Yes (33%)
  • No (54%)
  • No opinion (13%)

Total Voters: 305

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93 comments on Should F1 race venues be rotated?

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  1. GeorgeDaviesF1 (@georgedaviesf1) said on 4th April 2012, 19:59

    I voted no, but to an extent yes.
    Some races cant be rotated:
    Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Monaco, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Singapore, India
    I can see China & Korea alternating

    • SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 4th April 2012, 20:28

      Same toughts.
      It’s a shame Bernie asks so so much money for a race on Spa (and all others).
      We will lose or GP here in Belgium I’m pretty sure.
      If it can be safed via rotating. Then it has to happen.
      But imo (and most here) Silverstone, Monza, Monaco, Spa and Suzuka (and maybe interlagos) shoudl be protected and be on the calandre every freakin’ year!

    • GongTong (@gongtong) said on 4th April 2012, 20:28

      I voted yes, but to an extent no…

      I agree that certain races should be protected. Spa would be top of my list for that status. However, I would be more upset to see Spa removed from the calendar entirely than to only get to enjoy it once every two years.

      Also, in my opinion, the two Spanish races are wasting vaulable slots on the calendar and to see tham share a slot to free one up for the USA (for example) is good.

      The rising costs of admission is of massive concern though. I have often tried to encourage friends who watch F1 casually to come along to race weekends, but even the ones with some cash to spare cannot possibly justify nearly £200 for a Silverstone ticket.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th April 2012, 20:36

      I felt the same, but saw that as a reason to put ‘no opinion’ without having the option of putting ‘yes- with restraint/to an extent’.

    • JimN (@jimn) said on 4th April 2012, 21:15

      I’m old enough to remember when Silverstone rotated with Brands Hatch. I know which venue I prefered and it wasn’t Silverstone ;-)

      On a more seroius note, it all depends on the venue and the reason, if rotating saves Spa I’m all for it. Once every 2 years is better then never. But I certainly don’t think venues should be forced to rotate as with the wrc, it should be arranged and agreed by the venues for mutual benefit.

      • q85 said on 5th April 2012, 1:21

        its funny ive taken many first time race goers like gf’s, friends to brands and then silverstone and the reaction is always the same….

        Brands hatch rocks! really is an amazing circuit.

      • Ilanin said on 5th April 2012, 12:09

        I too love Brands Hatch, but unfortunately it’s rather too short for modern F1, and can’t reasonably be extended.

    • Pinball said on 4th April 2012, 21:49

      I would support the rotation of races within a single country, especially countries of a larger area like the US, Canada, Russia, China, or Australia, as it would expose the sport to more people within a particular country, which can only be a good thing.

      I would also support rotation within the traditional European countries (like happens in Germany), especially if it meant countries were able to keep their race. A benefit would be that it would give fans exposure to more of the excellent historic tracks within Europe.

      I would not support the WRC system though. I remember the situation where Rally Australia would only be held every second year, which really isn’t a good way to maintain a fan base within a country.

      • GeorgeDaviesF1 (@georgedaviesf1) said on 4th April 2012, 22:23

        If a race rotates its circuits, like Germany, then the ticket prices should be same for either venue

      • BaKano (@bakano) said on 5th April 2012, 14:18

        I also support the idea of rotating tracks for a Grand Prix, like they do in Germany and could do in Spain (which is different because they now have 2 GPs in a season).

        I don’t like the idea of rotating Grand Prixs by itself, i.e. between different countries, although I understand it could be a solution for “saving” some venues. It’s preferable to have a race in Spa every other year than no race at all.

        But the WRC shows that a yearly rotation system doesn’t do the sport any good.

    • Estesark (@estesark) said on 4th April 2012, 23:36

      I agree with the thinking behind this comment. I’m not sure I can vote for either yes or no, as it all depends on which races are being rotated.

      The German Grand Prix has been shared between the Nurburgring and Hockenheimring since 2007.

      The Hockenheim isn’t what it used to be. The Nürburgring usually provides some of the most unpredictable racing, so I would prefer to see it used every year.

      The Japanese Grand Prix was briefly shared between Suzuka and Fuji, before the latter ended its brief return to the F1 calendar.

      The same applies here. I love the old Fuji layout but I hate the new one, particularly the last few turns. I’m glad Suzuka holds it every year now.

      Spain’s two F1 circuits are rumoured to be planning a similar arrangement in the near future.

      Fine by me. In a perfect world, Valencia would be ditched completely, but having it every other year is better than having it every year.

      And the Belgian round is expected to enter a race-share deal with France, where Spa-Francorchamps and Paul Ricard will hold rounds of the world championship every other year./blockquote>

      Unacceptable. Spa is, without question, my favourite track on the whole calendar, and I will be very upset when we get the first Spa-less year under that rotation policy. France is a big country with a lot of car manufacturers, including one (Renault) that is heavily involved in F1; it should be able to hold a race every year. Belgium, on the other hand, is none of those things, but it is a historic circuit and should have its race fee slashed dramatically so it can afford to continue.

      • cjpdk (@cjpdk) said on 5th April 2012, 14:49

        Belgium, on the other hand, is none of those things, but it is a historic circuit and should have its race fee slashed dramatically so it can afford to continue.

        It would be perfect if that happened – but that statement takes no account of the financial realities of holding a Grand Prix. If Spa could afford to continue, why did it enter talks with Paul Ricard?

        Also, if Spa deserves its fees slashed because of “heritage”, well what are the other cicuits going to say about that? Why doesn’t Shanghai (say) deserve a break, or Yas Island?

    • bymis (@bymis) said on 5th April 2012, 13:07

      I don’t beleive that races should be rotated instead F1 group should be implementing a system of where an organiser can only make a capped amount of profit but also a minimum intake.

      We should lower the cost of hosting a GP and set min and max prices for race tickets based on the working class wage in the area. This would make races a more appealing to people. I know that cost is the only thing that holds me back from going to races more often.

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 4th April 2012, 20:03

    I like both the Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring (although I never saw a race at the latter) and I’m OK with them rotating.
    I’m absolutely in favour of Catalunya and Valencia sharing the Spanish GP as it’d take at least one boring race away from the calendar.
    But I’d never want to not see Spa-Franchorchamps, or other historic circuits for that matter, visited only once every two years. It’d be a smack on the face for the fans. At least Paul Ricard is not a Tilkedrome.
    It’s true that there would be more different venues over a two-year span than there are now, allowing more fans from different areas to attend a race, but I think a few races can alternate, if they are in the same country (currently Spain and Germany), but not too many of them, not the classics and not between countries.

    • Ilanin said on 5th April 2012, 12:14

      I don’t know why people keep calling Spa historic. The first F1 race on the 4.3-mile Spa circuit was held in 1983. If that’s historic, then I’m historic. A circuit doesn’t get to be called historic just because part of it used to be part of a very different circuit.

      Spa deserves its place on the calendar because it’s the best circuit in modern F1, not because of “history”.

  3. andae23 (@andae23) said on 4th April 2012, 20:03

    @keithcollantine

    The German Grand Prix has been shared between the Nurburgring and Hungaroring since 2007.

    Typo: Hockenheim, not Hungaroring

  4. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 4th April 2012, 20:09

    Yes, and no, if you’ll forgive the expression.

    As far as a country rotating its race between different circuits, I’m fine with that. In fact, I think it should be encouraged, as it allows fans across a country to be near a race.

    However, I don’t like countries sharing races, as this actively takes races away from the fans. If we go for a reductio ad absurdum, imagine if Britain had to share a race with Ireland, Sweden, France and somewhere else? Ridiculous, I know, but it’s within the realms of possibility if this trend continues.

    • Jay said on 5th April 2012, 2:23

      I agree with @Lin1876

      If the race is rotated within the same country it would we very good idea. I think rotation would work, but only in Europe, and perhaps in South America. It wouldnt work in Asia.

      Why? Because these race tracks are purpose built for F1, nothing much else goes on the whole year round. Tracks like Sepang, Shanghai, Yeongnam, Singapore, Abu Dhabi are primarily only used for F1. Ok Sepang is used for Moto GP and is open for track days along with a few Japan GT and local endurance races, but thats it. The only major income these tracks would have is from the F1 races. All the countries mentioned do not have racing tradition, hence you arent going to get junior formulae or touring car races on a regular basis on these tracks.

      I would say Asian races will not be looking to rotate because of the heavy investment thats been made to build these tracks specifically for the F1 spectacle. Apart from that, Asian governments have been heavily subsidising the event in many countries as well.

  5. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 4th April 2012, 20:14

    I think it’s a good idea, but only when done with two circuits in the same country. The Nurburgring/Hockenheim one springs to mind – I’m not a massive fan of either track, and alternating them each year adds a bit of variety. The same goes for Valencia/Barcelona.
    The problem is that the historic tracks will have to do this more and more as well, and with little benefit to the fans – it’s being done for purely financial reasons. I like both circuits, but the Spa/Paul Ricard alternation idea won’t benefit the sport at all.

  6. loki_0420 (@loki0420) said on 4th April 2012, 20:15

    I think it’s good idea, classic venues apart of course. Let new markets share races if they have money but almost half calendar should be untouched till the end of days with special prices to held the race, you know of which tracks i’m talking about

  7. andae23 (@andae23) said on 4th April 2012, 20:19

    I am in favour of this venue rotation, as it gives a GP something special. Something like the Olympic games, something you are looking forward to for a long time. This should also improve spectator numbers (if I’m right that is…)

    But I do think it’s a shame this happens because Formula 1-cars are occupied racing in countries where the contrast between outside temperature and spectators couldn’t be bigger. F1-passion lies in Europe, and let’s face it not in the Middle East.

  8. racerdude7730 (@racerdude7730) said on 4th April 2012, 20:24

    I think im on the same page as a lot of people with this. I feel that there are tracks that we need each and every year and should never lose. Such as Spa, Monza and so on but i think its always more fun when you get to see the cars race somewhere new or somewhere they havnt ran in a long time. It keeps things from getting boring and being the same year after year. Dont you think it would be great to see F1 cars on more tracks and maybe even tracks we all love but would not other wise be on the calendar? I just like the idea of seeing F1 on as many tracks as possible over the years.

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 4th April 2012, 20:26

    I voted yes. I don’t want to see every single round of the championship alternated, that would be ludicrous, but I do think it’s healthy for the sport and to keep breathing new life into it.

    It becomes political when you start talking about which races should and shouldn’t be alternated. I love the classics as much as anyone else, but you won’t catch me standing in the way of progress. Such a forward thinking sport really ought to apply the same logic to all areas of concern.

    To an extent I think your answer (or at least mine) needs to factor in what’s healthy for the sport in the short term, but yet again, that’s subjective. The world is in a less than ideal place economically and I find it ridiculous when people simply shoot down the idea of alternating races without considering the short-term financial relief for the circuits, which is designed to help them stay on the calendar longer.

    This is a business and countless businesses have had to make sacrifices and will continue to do so. It’s a risk but it needs to be taken, for me, there isn’t much of a choice.

  10. The Limit said on 4th April 2012, 20:29

    Could not agree more! What the bigwigs don’t understand is that is was the classic circuits that attracted their ‘core’ fanbase in the first place, long before Tilke was assigned Ecclestone’s personal track designer. The likes of Spa, Monza, Silverstone and Monaco have been with us since F1 has been around and are without doubt some of the most popular grands prix.
    It is alot like debating the future of the Indy 500 or the Oxford/Cambridge boatrace, and moving them every other year somewhere else. It does not surprise the fans, but sadly Bernie Ecclestone and co, that it is the circuits that have been built within the last decade that have struggled the most in recent years.
    For a start, moving F1 to parts of the world without a traditional fanbase was always going to be at best risky and at worst foolhardy. We often ask ourselves why F1 never really became successfull in the United States, but it hasn’t exactly enthralled the Chinese and it certainly was not popular in Turkey for many different reasons. Yet F1 continues to build circuits in locations without ‘proven’ longterm fanbases, yet debates whether or not we should return to France? Abit like sending Indycars to race in Yellowknife, Canada instead of the Brickyard.
    What Bernie Ecclestone should consider is listening to his fanbase and give them what they want at prices they can afford. That isn’t rocket science, just good business practice. Charging them a week’s wages to go to a racetrack is bad enough, but to charge them to watch it on television only risks turning people off the sport even more. When people stop going to the ‘classic’ circuits, then F1 has got a problem!

  11. matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th April 2012, 20:32

    I put no opinion. I want the best races on the calender. I don’t have strong feelings for either German round, so it doesn’t bother me that they are rotated- there should probably only be a single German round, and I don’t mind where it is (I don’t remember any great races at either track excluding 2011 and 2008). I don’t care if Singapore, Valencia, Barcelona, Abu Dhabi are rotated, but I don’t want to ever see Spa, Silverstone, Monza, Monaco, Montreal or Interlagos off the calender.

  12. markp said on 4th April 2012, 20:40

    Bahrain and Donnington works for me.

  13. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 4th April 2012, 20:40

    Of course I am against.

    From reading most comments it seems that the only reason people like the idea is because we have all these boring circuits. Be it Tilkedromes, Tikle-spoiled or Tilke-untouched, there’s a lot of tracks which just don’t have it. I’m undecided on the German tracks, but I think everybody agrees that Barcelona and Valencia just don’t have it as a track. You can spice it up with (another discussion) DRS, but I’d rather have good tracks.

    Now, if there was an option to say:
    – all classic tracks are untouchable
    – all boring tracks will be removed from the calender
    – new tracks are designed by other people than mr Tilke
    – all in remaining tracks might have alternation
    … then I would probably vote for altenation.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 5th April 2012, 0:45

      Now, if there was an option to say:

      Yeah, I agree, however people are voting yes on this basis, as opposed to reality, which is that Spa and tracks like it are in danger. Rather than the Mr. Tilke.

    • Arijit (@arijitmaniac) said on 5th April 2012, 6:19

      My thoughts exactly… Although I put no opinion because I do not want to see the classic tracks like Spa, Suzuka etc go away from the calendar. But I do hope some of the tilkedromes give way for the non-tilkedromes once every other year.
      Here’s an idea. Why not make the french GP return to the calendar in place of Valencia?
      I’m sure that Paul ricard circuit can provide better racing than the Valencia F1 Exhibition!!

  14. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 4th April 2012, 20:44

    Genuinely thought ‘rotation’ meant running the race in reverse, which would also be interesting. But still, I think it’s fair to say that there are those tracks out there which we would be sad to see rotated, and then there are those which would probably benefit from it. However, with the German GP, it gives disappointment one year (Hockeheim) and then joy the next (Nurburgring), which is certainly a shame, but it makes it more exciting to people when Nurburgring does come around. That’s my opinion at least. It could well be the same with the Spanish GP, with Catalunya being the better track (again, my opinion), where having a one year break could lead to it being more exciting, especially the atmosphere actually a the track. What I am getting at is that with a break, it can make some races more exciting because it’s something that you anticipate, and hype up more, but can also make you feel disappointment when a worse track comes along. Also, what happens if the supposedly better tracks don’t deliver the excitement expected, such as Spa last year, which the race wasn’t all that spectacular, although it must be said it wasn’t horrible. I think overall that track rotation is good, but it can lead to a problem when it’s the less good circuit coming around.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 4th April 2012, 22:11

      Wow if only!
      And remember, this year the drivers take eau rouge downhill…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th April 2012, 22:43

      Genuinely thought ‘rotation’ meant running the race in reverse, which would also be interesting

      now that would be something @philereid

      I voted ‘No’, because of the reasons for alternation ultimately boil down to the fact CVC is taking too much money out of the sport which makes it neigh impossible to run a race track profitable with F1.

      I can imagine a situation where two tracks alternate to give fans some diversity, especially with a overfilled calendar, but currently it just does not make enough sense. When we look at that famous sharing deal, its not really saving anything, only making it harder to build up a good returning crowd. Its like not going to the cinema, or not buying a ticket to visit a race. You do spend less money, but you also don’t get to have the fun.

    • Arijit (@arijitmaniac) said on 5th April 2012, 7:51

      @philereid Excellent idea!!
      Just imagine all the cars getting squeezed into the Bus Stop chicane at Spa or Casino Triangle at Suzuka… Or even a first lap battle on the parabolica at monza, Eau rouge going downhill!!! WOW!! Now that would be some spectacle to watch!!
      Cant say the same about the recent tilkedromes though… Singapore?? It doesn’t matter which way the car’s run, its always a 90 deg left and right. Thats why the classic circuits can never beat these new ultra-modern tracks.

      But running the race in reverse direction is an amazing idea at the least even if its not practical or safe :)

  15. Häkä said on 4th April 2012, 20:45

    Add more races. 30 races would be amazing and Bernie could charge less for some venues so they could afford it.

    • cg22me (@cg22me) said on 4th April 2012, 22:21

      Except the team, and by that I mean Drivers, Mechanics, Technicians, Designers et al, are already being pushed to the limit of workload with 20 Races… Bumping this up to 30 would be exhaustive on the team.

      Furthermore, just hiring more staff wouldn’t be an option, as there are budgetary restrictions which may not be “wasted” on staff alone, not to mention that teams such as HRT may not be able to hire the staff to attend all the races, at all.

      It’s simply not a sustainable idea.

    • Oblong_Cheese (@oblong_cheese) said on 4th April 2012, 22:40

      Don’t be daft. Bernie would not reduce the fees for some venues, he would make them bid against each other to remain on the calendar – this is already happening!

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