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?

  1. Robbie (@robbie) said on 4th April 2012, 20:46

    Hmmm… this is a really tough one. I hadn’t thought of it that much until you brought it up. Of course variety is nice, and I don’t think it really would hurt fans in Europe who like to attend let’s say the Spanish GP as to which part of the country it is in, as long as there is a race in Spain…same with Germany…even Belgium and France are close enough that I don’ think that should hurt fans who want to physically go there and may have to alternate one year to the next.

    But I didn’t know that WRC has tried this and that it has hurt them. And of course your point about the high costs of holding races, and that being the reason some venues cannot repeat year after year is a biggy. And the fact that they also get hurt by having lesser revenues on those years that they don’t have the race…

    I think we are living in tough economical times and it would be great (but perhaps pie in the sky) to see BE command less per race from the venues and the country’s governments in question. Look at what happened here in Canada…BE’s demands got so high (50 mill per year) and he wanted a 5 year guarantee from the Candian Federal Government, in conjunction with the province of Quebec on said 50 per year and they came back to Bernie and said unreasonable…no can do…so we had the Canadian GP dropped…only to have it reinstated when the teams got together and put the pressure on due to the importance of the North American market to so many of F1′s sponsors….BE cut his demands in half but with a few other concessions going his way to do with local sponsor revenues and/or ticket sales I believe, and hence we now retain the Canadian GP on the calendar, and Montreal/Quebec/Canada gets what we are told is about 100mill injected into the economy. But that may be unique because of the US GP having been dropped and Canada having the only NA race at the time, so the pressure worked. With so many potential venues within a relatively small area in Europe, I don’t think that kind of pressure would happen nor would budge BE.

    Do I like to see races rotated? Sure, but watching European races on TVfrom Canada and not being there to attend means that it is of little priority to me…all F1 races to me hold excitement no matter the venue, and while I would miss Spa on any given year, as an example, I know I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it and would take it in stride.

    What does it say about the state of the sport if a venue cannot hold a race other than to alternate with another venue? It’s a shame that F1 hasn’t seemed to adapt or bend given the state of the global economy that has seen ticket prices only rise when fewer people have the disposable income to justify attending an ever increasingly expensive race. But BE has become a multi-billionaire for reasons that have little to do with ‘out of the goodness of his heart.’

  2. Jim said on 4th April 2012, 21:08

    I’d have no problem with Silverstone alternating with Brands or even Donington (if they were up to spec) or Melbourne switching with Adelaide. Perhaps even Barcelona and Jerez.
    Where it does become more contentious is when it would be tracks in different countries that would be rotating especially when they are both established markets/countries.

    Also I don’t think there would have been an issue (except maybe in Italy!) if Monza had alternated with Imola from 1980 for the Italian GP and it had been made clear that this would guarantee F1 races at both venues for the next 20-30 years. No doubt doing so now would cause uproar now

  3. sparkus88 (@sparkus88) said on 4th April 2012, 21:09

    I say if it keeps and brings back more traditional circuits, I don’t mind alternating. Also if it helps keep spa, and others that are struggling, stay on the calendar. But I don’t want modern circuits alternating and taking the place of classic circuits, the likes of valcenia should disappear and be forgot.

  4. cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 4th April 2012, 21:29

    I didn’t vote because I don’t think the options properly reflect my view. My answer would be it depends which circuits are rotated. If you took Monza and Silverstone and put them on a rotation then it would be absolutely no, but if you took Bahrain and Abu Dhabi and turned them into rotating races then I’d be all for it.

  5. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 4th April 2012, 21:33

    While I can empathize with people on wanting to protect “classic” circuits (and I voted no on alternating for what it’s worth), how do determine what’s a classic track? Monza, Monaco and Spa are obvious for each being such long held staples, but I hear people calling for the likes of Silverstone and Suzuka being protected as well. remember, both have only been in place every year since the mid 80′s (and even then, Suzuka was momentarily replaced by Fuji as pointed out in the article) so those tracks are relatively new. Does it take 25-30 years of permanence to be considered a classic? By that logic, the Hungaroring is a classic and I can tell you I’m not particularly fond of that track myself. I know there are others who also don’t like it. Hell, Imola was around for 25 or so years and many would argue it produced boring races, too. As much as I want to see some tracks stay, the reality is this is a fluctuating sport. It doesn’t just change due to technology, but business. It will go where the money is, whether we like it or not. And with the ever-expensive grip that Bernie holds on it, it’s going to take more and more to keep a place on the calendar.

    I’m with Keith on this, this isn’t about “protecting” races from swapping, it’s about realizing how much is being asked of the venues just to have the “honor” of being on the calendar. Instead of focusing on clinging to our precious favorites, we should be focusing on convincing those in charge to loosen their grip on rights and hosting costs in favor of catering to fans.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 5th April 2012, 7:58

      You’re dead right regarding the definition of classic @joey-poey That’s where it starts to become unmanageable. It also tugs at peoples heart strings which is the real issue here.

    • sesku (@sesku) said on 5th April 2012, 9:50

      I thing we should stop using “classic” term for circuit such as Monaco, Silverstone, Montreal, Spa, Suzuka, Monza because it is not absolutely correct. Like @Joey-Poey said, Hungaroring itself is very old in calendar but not considered as classic venue. I think we should use other term such as “iconic” circuit because this type of circuit is a typical circuit that average people associate with F1. When people talk about F1, they think Spa, Monza, Suzuka. This track is F1′s icon. just my 2 cent.

    • Ilanin said on 5th April 2012, 12:26

      In terms of the number of F1 World Championship rounds hosted, Silverstone has held 45 races (including the very first), more than any other circuit save Monaco and Monza. I think “historic” could be argued to apply to tracks that have currently held more than 40 races, which is those three plus Spa, though I have my doubts about Spa given that 16 of its 44 races were on an almost completely different track; the current circuit has only been in use since 1983.

  6. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 4th April 2012, 21:35

    I voted yes, but Im under no illusion that venues which should be untouchable will be preserved. Spa is already being considered for alternation, which is in my opinion a blasphemy. What’s next? Monaco? Monza? Silverstone? Of course, Bernie would be all for the list of “must-have” GP’s, provided the list would be composed of big spenders such as Abu Dhabi. The very fact that Bahrain GP, being at best “so-so” race, is being pushed to go ahead despite all the political unrest in the country. If someone who actually cares about the show, the fans’ opinion etc. would be running the championship, Bahrain would be scrapped for at least a decade from the calendar and France reinstated.

  7. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 4th April 2012, 21:37

    I voted no because I agree with your reasoning that it is done because of financial reasons, and because we are likely to see fewer of our favourite tracks on the calendar.

    The high licensing fees and corresponding tickets prices are particularly worrisome to me. I think we’ve seen some fantastic racing over the past two seasons, and 2012 promises to be another cracker. Yet even with the sport seemingly in such a good place, it’s not possible to host an F1 race without making massive losses (Monaco and Silverstone aside). It does not bear thinking about what would happen in the current economical climate if we had a repeat of the 2000-2004 Schumacher domination.

  8. xeroxpt (@) said on 4th April 2012, 21:40

    I agree with Keith there are no abreviations possible to this policy.

  9. jobymcanuff (@jobymcanuff) said on 4th April 2012, 21:42

    Yes if the Tilkedromes are the ones to rotate e.g Bahrain/Abu Dhabi.
    Absolutely not with historic races such as monza, spa, monaco,japan

  10. pejte (@pejte) said on 4th April 2012, 21:44

    Voted yes, but this is not a simple yes and no Q/A.
    I would like to see venues like Bahrain, Korea, China, India, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Valencia and maybe even Malaysia to rotate from year to year, but places like Spa, Monza, Interlagos, Silverstone, Nurburgring, Monaco and Suzuka should always be on the calendar. No mater what. For me they are iconic races, places that i’ve seen F1 cars racing at since i was a child (started watching in ’96 at the age of 8).

    • cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 4th April 2012, 23:51

      @pejte

      I agree with the point you make, but do you realise that people who have watched F1 for over 10 years may know nothing other than a Malaysian Grand Prix? Even Bahrain and China are not actually that new any more. Time flies!

      • pejte (@pejte) said on 5th April 2012, 8:03

        Ideed it does, but some of these newer races aren’t very exciting. Like Valencia, or Korea, or Abu Dhabi… Actualy i wouldnt mind if those 3 would not be on the calendar next year.
        I miss Turkey :)

  11. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 4th April 2012, 21:44

    It’s such an interesting question. On one hand you would want new places and new tracks coming into the sport, bringing with them new audiences. I think we are more or less close to the limit of races possible in a season so yes rotation would be necessary. But on the other hand the new tracks have given us processional and many a times, outright boring races. Irrespective of how much drivers liked the Indian GP circuit, the race was voted on of the least interesting ones to watch last year. In such a case would one want to alternate between a ‘good’ track for one that produces very little quality racing. I would say No.

    The compromise would be to make some track marquee tracks, such as Monaco, Monza, Silverstone and Spa if the organizers can afford it. The others can be subject to rotation. Again, it isn’t like this would work flawlessly. New tracks would want Marquee designation or a clause which forbids it being alternated with another track for a set period of time in order to recover its money. Such a situation will occur with New Jersey and CoA as it happens with Valencia and Catalunya.

    Personally, setting aside the history associated with certain tracks, the only criteria for alternating should be race quality. Given the type of tracks we have today sadly, I am against it. However, if in the future and this will be decided in part by how New Delhi and the US races go through, race quality improves across all tracks, I would love to see alternations.

  12. mantolwen (@mantolwen) said on 4th April 2012, 21:59

    It’s one thing to alternate tracks within a country as happened in the ‘olden days’ of F1. It’s another to alternate with a different country. Fans should get every opportunity possible to see F1 in their own nation, and yes that includes French fans. I think it’s OK for Spain to alternate its tracks, just as Germany does. Personally I don’t like missing out on the Nurburgring every other year as it’s my favourite track.
    Personally, I would be happy for Belgium and France to alternate if it was with a more prestigious track in France. But Paul Ricard? No way. I hate the run-offs. They’re just like Abu Dhabi – no punishment. Make it a good track! Make it something worthy of alternating with Spa!

  13. moshbeard (@moshbeard) said on 4th April 2012, 22:40

    If they make some of the more hated races rotate too I’ll be all for it. If they let some of the most disliked races keep a full time position on the calendar and make Spa share a spot then it’s just ridiculous.

  14. Oblong_Cheese (@oblong_cheese) said on 4th April 2012, 22:41

    Spa, Monza, Australia and Silverstone should be able to host the race without a fee, like Monaco. Except the organisers take what they need from ticket sales (to cover running costs) and pass the rest to Bernie.

  15. red said on 4th April 2012, 22:42

    some races definitely shouldn’t be rotated. spa, monaco, silverstone, italy, brazil, canada, japan, australia and germany (one track or the other) need to happen every year. most of the other ones I wouldn’t mind alternating if it brought in races in new places like argentina or nyc

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