Imagine you were in charge of composing the 2012 F1 calendar and contracts could magically appear and disappear, what would you do?
I chose the following based on how good the track and the fanbase are, instead of how much money countries are willing to shovel into my pockets to “promote” themselves. I also tried to minimize travel distance while sticking to traditional dates as much as possible.
1) Brazil – Interlagos – March 18th
Mandatory classic. Jacarepagua is not nearly as good.
2) Argentina – Potrero de los Funes – April 1st
Lack of runoff possibilities in some turns, an impractical location for teams and fans and possibly not even that great a race, but a damn cool track. F1 needs this sort of panache.
3) USA West – Long Beach – April 15th
America’s answer to Monaco. Laguna Seca would not make it because the corkscrew is “too steep” and I think the race would be very similar to Hungaroring. Road America is great, but not far West enough and Miller is just as boring as Tilke’s weaker tracks. Austin could be good, but that twiddly bit around turns 14 and 15 will suck the pace out of the lap I’m afraid. Sears Point is cool too, but I go for the Hollywood glamour.
4) Spain – Aragon – April 29th
Out of the dozen or so Spanish tracks, all boring, this is my favorite. One of Tilke’s best.
5) Monaco – May 6th
Mandatory classic. I swear I will give up on F1 if they take this one out. Not just for the history, but I love seeing the cars millimeters away from the walls and drivers trying lap after lap to get past and when it finally works it’s very rewarding to see.
6) USA East – Road Atlanta – May 20th
Adding a second GP in the US will show the yanks F1 means business. Barber, Daytona, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Sebring, Virginia and Watkins Glen are all great, but Road Atlanta is the greatest imo.
7) Canada – Montreal – June 3rd
Mandatory classic. Mont Tremblant or Mosport would be interesting, but require lots of work and Montreal is a great, long-standing event that always delivers an exciting race.
8 ) The Netherlands – Zandvoort – June 17th
Not what it used to be, but still an exciting track, especially by today’s standards. Could become the new home for Finns, as I’m scratching Hungaroring.
9) Great Britain – Silverstone – July 8th
Mandatory classic. Brands Hatch and Donington are perhaps better tracks, but they would be altered and I don’t want to see that happening. Besides, Silverstone has the history and the new layout is pretty good. Cadwell Park is one of my very favorites, but could never be turned into a grade 1 facility without eating it’s soul. Same for Oulton.
10) France – Dijon – July 15th
On the weekend of their national holiday. Dijon is a great track and right in between France’s two biggest cities. Perhaps it lacks a “designated overtaking zone”, but I’m hoping for some battles like the famous Villeneuve-Arnoux one. Plus it’s short, fast and brutal on the tires, so I think it would be an interesting race, like Montreal. Shouldn’t be too difficult or overly expensive to upgrade the pits, grandstands and runoffs either. Just keep your hands off the track, Hermann, it’s fine the way it is.
Paul Ricard is alright, but there are enough races in the Mediterranean already and it is just a testing facility. Magny-Cours is impractical and, well, meh. Ledenon has lots of undulation, but isn’t all that. Charade is a great track, but can’t realistically be turned into Grade 1. Rouen and Reims were cool, but would need to be rebuilt. Nogaro and Bugatti are boring.
11) Germany – Sachsenring – July 29th
The most fun German track to drive on and more eastward, so it can attract Eastern European fans, while West Germans can go to Zandvoort, Spa or Dijon.
12) Belgium – Spa – September 2nd
Mandatory classic. Greatest track in the world. Nuff said.
13) Italy – Monza – September 16th
Mandatory Classic. Imola is mutilated and never was as great as Monza to begin with.
14) Portugal – Algarve – September 23rd
Not really a modern classic as some argue, but still a pretty good modern facility. Estoril is no fun anymore.
15) Turkey – Istanbul – October 7th
The greatest modern track imo, Tilke’s best by far. If they get better promoters, it is the mainstay in Islamic countries for me.
16) India – Buddh – October 21st
One of Tilke’s better ones, along with Aragon. A bureaucratic and political mess and a boring race last year, but there’s something about it that makes me feel this could become a future classic with a unique atmosphere. Also needs many support races to clean the track off-line.
17) Japan – Suzuka – November 4th
Mandatory classic. The only other good track in Japan imo is Autopolis, but it’s not nearly good enough to want to replace Suzuka.
18) Australia – Adelaide – November 18th
At night! Should be around 10 am in the UK. I thought about Phillip Island, but it needs lots of work, so I decided to include another street race instead. Maybe altering between the two is best. Mount Panorama also comes to mind, obviously, but the further F1 stays out of Bathurst, the better, because I’d hate to see Tilke getting his hands on it.
Here you can see it all on a map: http://i44.tinypic.com/eikuq1.jpg
The ones that are scratched:
Malaysia – Good turnout and alright races, but it feels very clinical. Every time I play F1 2010 or 11 I get bored during this race, because there are many more Tilkedomes to come… Johor is pretty cool, but would require a ton of work.
Shanghai – Same as Malaysia. In every way… Macau is way unrealistic and Zhuhai, Ordos and Goldenport are crap.
Bahrain – I seem to be one of very few people that sees something in this track, but it’s a diplomatic nono for now.
Europe – Ugh. And why two in Spain anyway? If any, it should be Brands Hatch or Imola.
Hungary – Good atmosphere, but the track is too twisty and narrow. I feel quite sore for dropping it though.
Singapore – Nice event, but the race is lame. Maybe I’d consider putting it back with a faster layout.
Korea – A mistake. Get out of there.
Abu Dhabi – What a stinker. Maybe replace it with Dubai or Losail in Qatar, but they’re not that much better.
The ones that could have made it:
Mexico – Hermanos Rodriguez: Basically a long banked turn followed by a huge straight and a neverending series of esses. Still, my first choice for a 19th race.
Austria – Red Bull Ring: Good track, but you can’t have them all. Nothing like the old one anyways.
Czech Republic – Brno: Pretty good track and could replace Hungaroring in Eastern Europe, but the season is long enough as it is.
Croatia – Grobnik, Rijeka: Cool track with banked corners like Assen, but that goes to show it is, in essence, a motorcycle track.
South Africa – Kyalami: The old one reminded me of old Zandvoort and the new one reminds me of new Zandvoort. But this track is too twisty and in a poor state. I don’t know what the Durban street circuit or Phakisa are like.
Finland/Sweden – How is it possible there is no proper race track here yet!? Ahvenisto is fun, but barely good enough for F3. Anderstorp doesn’t cut it either.
I’m curious to see what others come up with, but please, keep it realistic.