Saturday 8 January 2011

The 2011 F1 World Championship Calendar, if it was up to me

The quiet off season has left me with nothing better to do than play Bernie and attempt to construct my very own 'if it was up to me' 2011 F1 calendar.

I've tried to be realistic, and not included tracks that no longer exist (so no original Zandvoort), or can't realistically be resurrected (so no Montjuic), or clearly aren't suitable for modern F1 (so no Nordschleife). Obviously, commercial considerations (other than a base desire to take F1 to where the fans are) haven't entered things.

Just like reality there are 20 rounds, which is just as well as whittling the calendar down isn't easy. I actually now sympathise a little with Bernie.

Anyway, here goes (I've listed them in chronological order):

1: Argentina - Potrero de los Funes Circuit
A little bit of a left field choice for the first round, but such is the support for F1 in South America it really deserves a second race (after Brazil). This is a challenging and undulating semi-permanent track in San Luis, currently used in FIA GT. 

2: Brazil - Interlagos
Has to be in the calendar - a proper racing track (which invariably provides a diverting race) and a hot atmosphere. The F1 fraternity moan about the facilities and the surrounding Sao Paolo, but I don't care. More of my thoughts on Interlagos are here.

3: USA West - Long Beach
It's silly that an international sport such as F1 keeps turning its back on America, and Long Beach is one of the few American F1 events that has ticked the boxes. Time to bring it back. 

4: Mexico - Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
One word: Peraltada. Not even a baseball stadium can keep the corner down. Could do a back-to-back with Long Beach.

5: Spain - Barcelona
Given Alonso-mania there has to be at least one race in Spain. After some umming and ahhing, I plumped for Barcelona, though I'd lobby to remove the silly chicane before the last corner. I personally think the lack of overtaking there owes more to the cars than to the track. 

6: Monaco
Absolutely goes without saying. When you've got Monaco you've got F1. 

7: Canada - Montreal
Continues to be one of the year's most eagerly anticipated rounds. A track where things happen and usually provides a thrilling race. The atmosphere provided by the city's proximity tops things off.

8: USA East - Watkins Glen
The second American round (see round three) and it could form a double-header with Montreal. Back in the day, Long Beach in the west and Watkins Glen in the east were the settled homes for F1 in America, providing large crowds, and I feel this should be re-established. A spectacular and challenging track.

9: France - Paul Ricard
That 2011 will be the fourth season without a French round shows the extent to which the sport has turned its back on its supporters, so time to have them back in. I've gone for Paul Ricard, though from what I gather it'll need spectator areas built (having been used only as a test facility in recent years). It has Signes.

10: Britain - Silverstone
Has to be here, as Eddie Cheever once said not having a British Grand Prix is 'like the Pope not going to the Vatican'. And Silverstone in its new guise is looking in great nick. 

11: Germany - Hockenheim
You can't not have a German round, though I'm not hugely enthusiastic for any of the suitable German circuits. I've gone for Hockenheim - at least you can pass there.

12: Hungary - Hungaroring
I know, I know. Not everyone's first choice. Perhaps I'm a little biased having attended the race last year, but it always draws a vibrant and knowledgeable crowd from right across Europe, and it's not as unpopular among drivers as some would have you believe.

13: Belgium - Spa
If you don't know why this one should be here then you're probably reading the wrong blog.

14: Italy - Monza
A cathedral of motorsport. Has to be in.

15: Portugal - Algarve
Another track not used by F1 before, though it has been used by GP2, A1GP and others, and is an undulating track that lends itself to overtaking. 

16: Singapore - Marina Bay circuit
Of the various 'new' rounds from F1's movement to the east this one (along with Japan, obviously) can claim to have been an absolute success. If ever a city was perfect to host an F1 race...

17: Japan - Suzuka
I'm tempted just to type 'see round 13'. The ultimate in driving challenge, and few rival the Japanese for consistent enthusiasm for the sport. More of my thoughts on Suzuka are here.

18: Korea - Yeongam
This year's inaugural event was promising in terms of the turnout and enthusiasm of the locals as well as of the track layout, and the facility will be impressive once it's finished (let's not judge it as the building site that it was last year).

19: India - New Delhi
I'm giving this track the benefit of the doubt, given it'll be appearing on the calendar for the first time this year. I'm nothing if not fair.

20: Australia - Adelaide
With the possible exception of Watkins Glen, no event has quite captured the end of season like Adelaide. Set the standards for street race organisation, and few events can rival it for local enthusiasm, with 210,000 attending on race day at the last event in 1995.

You'll also notice that many of the new Tilke facilities aren't on my calendar. That's nothing against the facilities themselves, which I gather are immaculate, or the layouts, which in the cases of tracks such as Sepang and Istanbul are pretty good. My main gripe is that they don't pull the crowds in, and I believe F1 should go to where the fans are.


  1. Agreed on all counts - especially San Luis and Portimao. Although I would consider the Le Mans Bugatti track instead of Paul Ricard just to get that famous name in F1. I also quite like the A1-Ring or whatever it's called these days.

  2. Thanks very much - glad you concur with my list!

    I've always thought that the Le Mans Bugatti circuit is a bit Mickey Mouse, though you're right that it's a great name and venue.

    The A1 Ring (now the Red Bull Ring) did always produce good races, though I never forgave it for not being Österreichring! If they'd built the A1 Ring somewhere else I'd probably be more partial to it!

  3. I'd also include A1 Ring, but other than that, great list, Graham, consider sending it to FIA, seriously.

  4. Thanks very much Kiril - glad you like it! I'll maybe send the list to the FIA or Bernie, but I'm not sure if they'll listen to me!