Should F1 race venues be rotated?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.


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.


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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. xeroxpt (@)
    4th April 2012, 21:40

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

  4. 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

  5. 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).

    1. @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!

      1. 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 :)

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. Matt (@agentmulder)
    4th April 2012, 22:50

    I hate to be non-committal, but it all depends on the circumstances.

    First off, ditching races that are not well received, do not give good racing, and work best as sleep aids should go before we start talking about rotating in any sense of the word. Drop Bahrain, Valencia, Korea. That leaves room for France, New Jersey, and Russia. Problem solved. Barring that, things get tricky.

    Doing any more than 20 races would probably require relief crews and staff which, in the current economic climate, is not feasible. Maybe once things are back on the up and up we can pursue this, but right now 20 seems like the cap.

    With only 20 slots open, and many countries vying to be in F1, I don’t think any country should have more than one Grand Prix a year. If a country has more than one GP currently, like Spain, they should have to alternate or choose one track and stick with it. To keep the other track occupied, why not hold the feeder series races at whichever venue F1 doesn’t visit that year? Make it a press event, have the F1 drivers/teams there in an outreach capacity, make it special, just don’t hold the actual race there.

    As for inter-country rotating, I’m not for that, for any track. There are clearly races where attendance is poor, or artificially inflated by slashing ticket prices. But, if Bernie is unwilling to drop these, and further is unwilling to institute a “one GP per nation per year” rule, swapping between countries may be a reality. If so, there are a few races that under no circumstances should be shared.

    Monaco, Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Suzuka, and Interlagos should be, in my opinion, untouchable. So long as these tracks exist, they should host F1 races. Full stop. That still leaves the problem of geography. A Korea/China rotation would be interesting from a political perspective due to China’s support of the DPRK and whatnot, but could work as both races have attendance that is lacking. Beyond that, alternating the Spanish and French GP is the only other option, however this would be a bit of a low blow to France. Imagine finally getting your (much deserved) F1 slot back only to be alternated with a rather average venue.

    tl;dr version:

    Best solution: More than 20 races. Requires better global economy, will have to wait.
    Next: Ditch races that are boring. Requires Bernie to use logic. Outlook not so good.
    Next: One GP per country per year. Requires compromise, would make the situation in the US interesting.
    Last: Different countries share GP venues.

  12. NO. What about they start taking all the arab tracks out that know one goes too, for a start. they are no good. Korea, India, They need to go.

    1. @matt2208 – Why does India need to go? It’s a common complaint that nobody goes to Grands Prix in new markets, but the race in India (and almost every session that weekend) was a sell-out, and the drivers seem to genuinely like the circuit and the country. There were a few teething problems, like a dirty track surface and a few facilities that could have been a bit better, and Vettel might have dominated the event from the start, but I see no reason why Formula 1 should not return to India. The only really challenging question is why Formula 1 didn’t go there sooner.

      1. First race always sell out. A lot of hype a people still had interest. just wait a couple more years.

        1. *A lot of hype and people still had interest…

  13. I am in favor of race sharing at this time.

    Money is the problem. It just costs too much money to keep the way Formula One was, afloat. Race sharing is a solution but doesn’t tackle the root of the problem, rising costs which are affecting race attendance. There is no solution, eventually soaring costs will drive the sport into oblivion. When the fans stop coming, as they are ( watch the grandstands in China ) and when TV coverage costs go through the roof, as they are ( watch TV in England ) the appeal of the sport will diminish solely because of its costs.

    The future may become somewhat altered due to this current state of affairs. Money and how much longer can they pick my pockets

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

    I don’t think the root problem is something that can be fixed by Formula 1. Bernie’s model of doing business is not new. He’s been using the same contracts for years, but it is only recently that circuits have been having problems with it. And when you look at which circuits are actually having trouble, they’re almost exclusively in Europe (Fuji being the only real exception). The problem is the recession and the economic downturn. Everyone was doing just fine until the economy started to crumble. That’s the main reason why Fuji was dropped – Toyota owned the circuit, but they were hit hard by the recession and could not afford to continue with the race. It’s the same with Spain; they have two races but their unemployment is over 20% and they’re in trouble, too. I don’t think yearly races are going to be manageable at least until Europe overcomes its debt problems.

    1. @prisoner-monkeys, I do agree with you that a change of the F1 business model would be needed to make races less expensive for the hosting tracks.

      But the problem is not European, its just that a relatively big part of the calendar used to be European tracks. Just look at Canada being dropped a few years back. And Korea needed a serious discount to be able to continue. Malaysia is in doubt about prolonging, Interlagos was in trouble as well. And for Australia its already a tradition to have people crying foul at the high costs of the event.
      That all is because the race fees keep rising at a higher rate as inflation does, and the business relies on people taking it as a promotion of the region rather than being at least break-even for the race itself.

      1. @bascb – The recession wasn’t just limited to European circuits. Like I said, Fuji could not maintain its race because Toyota suffered in the downturn. But of all the circuits rumoured to be in financial turmoil, it’s the European circuits that are feeling the pinch the most.

  15. Unfortunately, race rotation is the only way I can see all these new tracks being added to the calendar.. I’d love the New Jersey track, IF it was rotated with Austin.. If countries stick to the ‘one race per country’ (admittedly, unwritten) rule, then there’s just enough room for the calendar as it is.. Start adding in Russia and France and the calendar realistically has to start rotating..

    I don’t think F1 would suffer because of it (Like WRC) simply because of the fanbase F1 has, it’s a lot bigger than WRC and should be able to cope..

  16. I’ll tell you what: Come back in ten years, and I’ll let you know whether I like it or not.

    Which is the same, I assume, as anyone over any of the last 5 decades would have said.

    In the end, it’s all market forces. History is a part the sell. As the the sporting competition itself. The overlap between the two (i.e. the tracks) is an important part of the equation. If a track is good enough, will it keep it’s place on the calendar? Yes, if the increased viewership makes up for any loss in raw race revenue. If not, then history really doesn’t matter. While Bernie is at the helm, it’s all about the bottom line. And I think he knows we’ll watch even if they had a grand prix going through Hyde. So if they pay the fee, Vettlel’s garage for the 3rd race in the 2014 season could well be in front of Greggs and opposite Ladbrokes. Dollar dollar.

  17. I can’t make up my mind on this – it’s certainly because of the high race fees which is causing the problem. But in terms of getting more variety, it’s an incredibly mixed blessing. There are probably few people on this site who would argue in favour of both Spanish Grands Prix, but how many are weeping at the thought of losing Spa 50% of the time?

  18. luckily paul-ricard is not a tilke dome (surprisingly). not a hairpin in sight! i think…

  19. 10 tracks in “protected” list: Spa Monza Silverstone Interlagos Monaco Suzuka Melbourne Montreal Germany & Spain (just to keep German/Spanish fans happy).

    The rest of available tracks will be drawn out of a hat.

  20. Lots saying Silverstone should be protected, personally I think its lost a lot of its charm with the reconstruction and new track layout/massive concrete runoffs. Happy to see it rotate with Donington and Brands Hatch now. Dont like the idea of countries rotating at all.

    Spa, Monaco, Monza, Interlagos, Suzuka + a British and a French round are my keeps. Would have Adelaide and Imola back in a heartbeat too.

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