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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