PRE SEASON COUNTDOWN, DAY 12
For this blog post, I worked with fellow F1 writer, Paul Godley whose website gives detailed analysis of some of the sport’s top news stories. Here we explain to you which circuit should remain on the calendar, which would return and round up your thoughts.
Katie: Tracks I’d like to see stay – Montreal
The drivers must negotiate 70 laps of this narrow, windy circuit in search of points. Covering 4.361km it is not the longest circuit but it is innovative. Redesigned slightly upon its return in 2010, the Canadian Grand Prix is always viewed favourably by the fans.
The combination of long straights and twisty turns is crucial. The Red Bull suits the high speed corners but struggles on the straights where the Ferraris and McLarens can use their own respective models and the KERS system to gain an advantage. Changeable weather, tyre temperament and racing strategies alter the outcome each year; this is unpredictability, even by Formula 1 standards.
As much as I love European races, and will forever defend them, there is no denying the fact that Montreal has produced some memorable Grands Prix in recent years. 2011, the longest race in F1’s history, saw Jenson Button steal the win from Sebastian Vettel on the final lap. Sergio Perez’s triumph from fifteenth to third ultimately proved that the circuit is capable of producing some truly unpredictable races, especially when the heavy downpour of rain ensues.
Admittedly, this circuit does not have a marred past. The 1982 Canadian Grand Prix was seriously affected by the death of its native driver Gilles Villeneuve in Belgium However the circuit is named in his memory; each tyre that meets the tarmac is on honour of him and his memory.
Bernie Ecclestone is constantly talking about Formula 1 should continue to expand outside of Europe. The sport is not here for the money or for increased sponsorship but because racing history dictates that Canada is the place to be.
Katie: Track I’d like to see return – Paul Ricard
I must admit I struggled with this particular topic. Looking back through the sport’s history, many circuits (such as Imola and Turkey) stand out as possibilities. Even a circuit like Kyalami could be considered as a way of solidifying Formula 1 outside of Europe. With sport growing more and more accessible to the people of South Africa it could be viable. The Formula 1 calendar is already packed; another addition would have to pose great benefits to a season.
I feel France is the place to be. With four drivers and with Renault engines dominating the current generation of Formula 1, it seems strange frankly that the FIA have not already made this decision. It was 1997 that a non-European driver won the championship; Europe is where Formula 1’s heart beats most prominently.
What made me choose Paul Ricard over Magny Cours was its unconventional layout. The elongated track design is also built on a plateau and is flat differing to many other tracks (such as Spa) where hills are a prominent feature. Just like Montreal, the circuit is named after a fallen driver. What better way to remember him than by utilising it to its full potential?
It seems Bernie Ecclestone himself agrees. Whilst no talks have been officially confirmed, he has expressed an intention to resubmit the circuit to the calendar by hosting a biennial French Grand Prix at the circuit.
Spa-Francorchamps, situated in the Ardennes forests, is quite simply the best circuit on the F1 calendar. It’s a true driver’s circuit, one that requires them to push the limits in order to achieve a strong lap time, one that requires complete concentration to navigate the 7km+ twisting, winding and undulating tarmac and most importantly, one that every single driver wants to win.
There have been so many iconic and memorable moments at Spa down the years. THAT multi-car collision on the first lap in 1998, Damon Hill leading home a Jordan 1-2 in ’98, the horror crash at the start of 2012 race, Giancarlo Fisichella’s pole and 2nd place finish in the Force India, Michael Schumacher’s 5 wins, Ayrton Senna’s 6 wins, Schumacher’s coming together on and off the track in the rain… the list goes on. Spa is a track that’s simply made for great racing. The layout and size of the circuit, the location, the unpredictability of the weather, the history; they all go to make Spa what it is – special.
When the race wasn’t held in 2003 and 2006, the season just didn’t feel complete. It’s one of those iconic races and race tracks, the kind that sadly appears to be dying out as more European races are dropped from the calendar. Spa is like Silverstone, like Monza; those flagship venues that you just associate with Formula 1. Spa is a fantastic circuit in a brilliant location and should, no, needs to stay on the calendar.
Paul: Track I’d like to see return – Magny Cours
This one was tricky, what with so many possible options. I toyed between a few – Imola, the old Hockenheim, A1 Ring, Estoril, Fuji, Kyalami (ok, maybe more than a few…) – but I’ve decided to settle on Magny Cours in France. With four French drivers on the grid this season, a return to France could have been ideal to reignite the countries passion for the sport. Magny Cours is always a circuit I’ve liked. It has a ‘racing flow’ to it (whatever that means, makes sense in my mind anyway) and it’s one that from what I can tell the drivers always liked.
You’ll notice from my list that the majority of circuits I considered are European. Something that’s bothered me for a few years now is the worryingly increasing rate that European races are being dropped from the calendar. Turkey for example, a great track but with very little local support, it had to go. Fair enough. But to see tracks like Magny Cours et al go because of what one assumes to be money issues is disappointing, although regrettably understandable.
With the majority of drivers still being from Europe I believe it’s essential to keep as many European circuits on the calendar as we can, but obviously only if they’re of good enough standard. There are a few circuits I can think of, Bahrain and Korea for example, that could quite easily be dropped from the calendar and replaced with the reintroduction of a European round or too. For a brief moment I thought Magny Cours may return as the 20th race this season, but alas it didn’t. To see it back would be great, whether it will happen or not is another matter.
Tracks YOU’D like to see return
We started a poll early last week asking you which circuit you would like to see return. Like us, it seemed you had problems choosing too. Imola, Magny Cours and Paul Ricard emerged as favourites, suggesting that most of you were opting for the classic over the new. The Red Bull Ring was a particularly interesting choice. It would be another addition to the European portion of the calendar and the circuit would certainly create some interesting racing. Previously known as the ‘A1-ring’, its name change is a reflection of the dominance of Red Bull itself an Austrian team.
Turkey was also mentioned frequently, interestingly, this circuit has only been removed from the calendar recently. A lack of interest in a country not known for its motorsport and with money troubles affecting their chances, the circuit was scrapped. Regarded as a great Tilke track, only an emphasis on further expansion from Europe could save the circuit. Felipe Massa has won three out of his seven races on in Turkey; his affinity with the track would be sure to shake up the championship.
Europe was once again a feature in many answers, though this is perhaps not surprising as the list of European circuits is extensive. What this poll shows more than anything is that Formula 1’s past, including the circuit, is still just as important as the present. A racing backdrop cannot be underestimated.
Thank you to all that took part!
This blog post is the twelfth in this year’s pre season build up. For the next two days, ‘stoodonthepodium’ will be bringing you exclusive interviews, stories, analysis and more from the world of Motorsport.
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