The technological aspect of Formula 1 is seemingly limitless, the new cars are a far cry from the previous generation. The introduction of DRS and KERS has been controversial; more traditional race fans feel let down by the sport accusing it of condoning artificial over taking.
This same principle can be applied to the sports back drop. Indeed Formula 1 spreads across numerous nations and continents pleasing race fans and corporate sponsors with every Grand Prix. The debate over the locations of these Grands Prix is fierce with many arguing that once again money is the most important factor.
Recently the sport has branched out. The tour of Europe is bookended with tours of Eastern Asia and North America. New Grands Prix have been introduced: Abu Dhabi and Texas (amongst others) have enabled the sport to reach a wider fan base.
Is this such a bad thing? Of course, one could argue not. Is a World Championship really that if drivers don’t contest tracks in America, Canada and Eastern Asia? Robert Wickens, Alexander Rossi and Kamui Kobayashi form an exciting line up from these nations. Go where the talent is, go where the fans are and – as is the way with Formula 1 – where the money is.
Bahrain and Abu Dhabi pay the FIA millions for the pleasure of hosting a Grand Prix. Public outcry and protests in Bahrain didn’t quite provide the same glamorous surroundings as Monte Carlo. Whether it was morally correct for such a passionate sport to throw itself into a country in turmoil is a different matter all together.
Recent reports suggest that a new Russian GP is on the cards. Possible? Absolutely. A wealthy nation now represented by Vitaly Petrov and (partly) Marussia, the strong Russian force is there. The support would be too I’m sure. Further sources have suggested to me that a return to Mexico is possible – again another plausible outcome for 2014. Two Mexican drivers in 2013 (one of whom is driving for McLaren of course) and heavy funding could have contributed to a resurgence in the popularity of the sport there.
A country which previously hosted 16 Grands Prix was scrapped in 1992 in favour of Europe. Thought to be a $50 million investment, the stakes are high. Countries like this can afford it but with Silverstone and the Nürburgring strapped for cash, is it fair for these nations to put the futures of other tracks at risk?
Of course it would be unfair to blame the sport’s elitist culture on the decline of certain races. Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger lost their lives at Imola. The unfortunate circumstances that occurred there in 1994 has left a dark cloud hanging over the circuit. Similarly a return to Magny-Cours is unlikely – classic and popular tracks banished from the race calender for factors sometimes outside of F1’s control.
To win in Monaco, Great Britain and Belgium is a major achievement for any driver. Certainly the former is ideal race to win; only a handful of drivers have coped with the tight corners and increased pressures synonymous with a street circuit.
Formula 1 will inevitably spread it’s wings but with mastermind Bernie Ecclestone set on reducing the number of Grands Prix in years to come, is it likely that those tracks we all know and love could be lost forever? Austin put on a great show; the combination of high and low speed corners made it incredibly popular but Monaco was as ‘edge-of-your-seat’ thrilling as always. It’s a tough call, I’m just pleased I don’t have to make the decision.
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