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. Matt (@agentmulder) said on 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.

  2. Anti-RBR (@matt2208) said on 4th April 2012, 23:11

    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.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th April 2012, 0:11

      @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.

  3. TED BELL said on 4th April 2012, 23:14

    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

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th April 2012, 23:43

    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.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th April 2012, 7:08

      @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.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th April 2012, 7:34

        @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.

  5. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 4th April 2012, 23:43

    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..

  6. hey (@hey) said on 4th April 2012, 23:46

    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.

  7. Captain Sorbet (@captain-sorbet) said on 4th April 2012, 23:57

    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?

  8. sato113 (@sato113) said on 5th April 2012, 0:15

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

  9. tkcom (@tkcom) said on 5th April 2012, 0:21

    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.

  10. taurus (@taurus) said on 5th April 2012, 0:28

    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.

  11. Txizzle (@txizzle) said on 5th April 2012, 0:35

    Funny this comes up, my friend and I am thinking of starting a motorsports-related blog, and one of the issues we where thinking of adressing is this trend of alternating races. We both are quite against it.

    Maybe our blog (yet to be filled with anything) might interest some dutch readers, since it will be written in dutch.
    Just a thought. But lets not get into details about something that hasn’t even started yet.

  12. bearforce1 (@bearforce1) said on 5th April 2012, 1:02

    Yes and No. Yes, if it is a crap circuit then combining two crap circuits on rotation is great (Spain). No, If it is a great circuit and only being able to see the race there every two years, boooo (Spa, Suzuka etc).

  13. Lurker said on 5th April 2012, 2:20

    I’ve been reading all the comments and I was surprised by how many people want to put australia on the ‘protected species’ list. Even more surprising was the couple of requests to bring back the adelaide gp. As an australian who was priviledged enough to attend one of the last adelaide gps as a small boy, I was quite touched. Thanks for the support! As for the idea of alternating races, I would welcome it for new entrants or dull gps (valencia) but chopping monaco, spa, suzuka, brasil would be awful. I would LOVE it if adelaide and melbourne shared the gp though!

  14. Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 5th April 2012, 5:09

    what if they simply cancel the races that aren’t interesting enough? make a 5 year deal and then give those tracks a 5 year break and then get some other track on the calender. Meanwhile the boring tracks can host some other races there or think about improving it.
    I understand the financial constraint, but then rotating wont help at all. Instead of a gradual rise in tickets every year, everyone will experience a sharp rise in the prices every alternate year.

  15. Boost (@boost) said on 5th April 2012, 6:53

    Voted yes.

    The reason is I´m a video game player. F1 Games get a little bit different/interesting from year to year with circuit changes. Same goes for TV-shows but that´s not as important as compared to games as I seldom watch the same race twice while I play the whole season many times.

    There are so many circuits on the calendar already and more countries want in – rotating venues is a good idea instead of totally dropping some circuits, like Turkey which I love :…)

    I know about the bad consequences but I see it as natural now when we have the ugly capitalism with Bernie in F1 where money comes before what´s best for F1. I hope the bubble will burst soon and we´ll come back to fewer races per calendar, all the classics, cheaper to hold and attend, more spectators per race etc…
    …or I´m just dreaming :)

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