Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Marcus Woodhouse
F1 is about to have a serious calendar issue. With recent rumours that we are getting a South African Grand Prix, most likely around Kyalami - it has left some classics of the F1 calendar, like Spa and Paul Ricard, at risk to potentially be knocked off the calendar.
Personally, I think these issues all stem from F1’s pledges to make more U.S races.
As of 2023, Formula 1 will race at: Austin, Las Vegas, and Miami as well, which had its debut race this year.
The issue we have is Formula 1 needs to be a worldwide motorsport, which races in every continent… except maybe Antarctica - for obvious reasons. However most people agree that F1 certainly needs to race in Africa. But with there now being three U.S races, it could mean we have to say goodbye to a classic circuit like Spa or Paul Ricard.
Now, this would greatly upset the hardcore F1 fanbase, because we care about good racing, we care about a large variety of countries getting their shot at hosting one of these incredible events. Now how is it possibly fair that the U.S gets three races - and yet a place like France, which by the way invented the term “Grand Prix Racing” - potentially does not get its chance?
For anybody that has listened to Divebomb’s YouTube videos, you’ll know that I’m not a huge fan of the Miami Street Circuit, and it would feel completely unfair in my opinion, if a track which is designed to only attract sponsors replaced a legitimate racing circuit like Spa.
Spa especially has been on the calendar since 1950, the very first official Formula 1 World Championship. So if we lose Spa, we genuinely would be losing a cornerstone of Formula 1.
Now, earlier this year I wrote an article about celebrities in Formula 1, which was mainly based off the Miami GP weekend. It does feel like both the Miami GP and also the Las Vegas GP are simply marketing events, for celebrities and the rich to attend, whilst the legitimate racing fans have to watch these cars simply parade around a boring street track. Therefore, if these circuits are favoured over classics such as Spa and Paul Ricard, then I’m sure we would all be devastated.
Especially considering the Spa circuit recently undertook new renovations to the Raidillon/Eau Rouge barriers, moving them further back to avoid any cars being pushed right back out into oncoming traffic, it would feel incredibly disrespectful to the circuit owners if Spa was removed for safety reasons, due to the effort they have put in to make some adjustments.
So, how do we solve this? I think it’s a complex argument, because it isn’t as simple as just “add more races” because that would exhaust the teams and the drivers. Therefore, we are talking about circuits being replaced. Currently, we’ve got places like Saudi Arabia, three American races (as of next year) - so we do have space, as long as we take somewhere like Miami off the calendar. Also, Saudi Arabia of course had some safety concerns earlier this year, because of the missile which hit Aramco’s headquarters. Aramco was also the main sponsor for that Grand Prix weekend, so it posed a lot of safety concerns, and the drivers were in the briefing room until past midnight on Saturday night.
Therefore, Formula 1 desperately needs to think about the countries they race in, and perhaps also introduce a limit on the number of races a single country can hold. MotoGP has a similar issue, where it races in Barcelona, Aragon, and Valencia, but at least they are not street circuits.
But what do you think? Should we be welcoming these new American races? Or should we save the classic circuits and make sure that we don’t lose pieces of history in an attempt to move forward with the sport?
I suppose the racing at these circuits, Paul Ricard and Spa-Francorchamps, will have to be exceptional, so that we can produce a good argument on why these circuits need to stay. We will see if they can deliver this, and then perhaps they stand more of a chance in the fight to stay on the calendar.