Formula 1's calendar has become boring, but it has the chance to be brilliant

21-11-2020 17:00
Formula 1's calendar has become boring, but it has the chance to be brilliant

The 2021 calendar is all but set in stone with just the one remaining race to be confirmed. As we approach the final unique set of races on the 2020 calendar, we ask the question is the current calendar for next season what Formula 1 needs? 

A season like no other

2020 has been a season like we've never seen before. 17 races, two continents, it has been an interesting year in Formula 1 to say the least. When the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled, in rather farcical circumstances, no one would have expected us to be heading to Bahrain, in late November, for a back to back set of races on two different circuits, the latter arguably the most fascinating circuit Formula 1 has ever raced on. But here we are, preparing for a Sakhir doubleheader. 

We've been to Mugello, Imola, Portimao, Istanbul along with some of the regular circuits, Silverstone twice, Barcelona, Monza and Sochi. But we always knew, deep down, no matter how much we wanted to stick with this topsy-turvy season, we'd probably be going back to normal next season. We'll kick off the season at Albert Park and we'll return to the likes of Paul Ricard, Azerbaijan and Singapore. Not all bad circuits but we have seen better, and several of them this season.

Back to normality...

We will return to the fixed calendar that Formula 1 sets out ahead of each season, but to be totally honest, is it really best for the sport? It certainly isn't in the best interest of entertainment. I've made this argument before and it probably won't be the last time either. Consistently driving at circuits, year in year out without fail, means drivers and teams stack up even more amounts of knowledge and information on the circuits.

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Spain and the Circuit de Catalunya is the perfect example, we not only race in Barcelona, we test there too, allowing for little room for spontaneity and unpredictability. Some circuits are just average, Paul Ricard and the French Grand Prix is arguably the worst race on the calendar, with races such as the Mexican Grand Prix, surviving off the fact they have lucrative contracts and big-name drivers to support them. 

At least this season teams haven't had the luxury of huge amounts of data. Mugello, Imola and Istanbul haven't been raced on by Formula 1 cars in years and they've provided some of the best weekends of the season. 

Formula 1's future

Since taking the reigns of Formula 1, Liberty Media have been intent, on expaning the pinnacle of motorsport's pull factor, and as a result, have been looking to branch out to new territory. Saudia Arabia and Vietnam were both set to be on the 2021 calendar, although the latter appears to have missed its chance due to the arrest of a key official in relation to corruption charges. Both were set to be held on street circuits, something which is becoming a more and more common theme. However, this doesn't provide the same levels of entertainment that classic circuits like, Interlagos or Silverstone provides. They're roads for driving on, not racing, so can we really expect them to provide the same entertainment factor? 

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I understand Liberty Media's desire to expand the reach of Formula 1, after all it is a global sport and the biggest class in motorsport, but at what cost? There are so many better circuits out there some of which, we've seen THIS SEASON!

Formula 1 has a reputation for being boring, and street circuits aren't the answer to fixing that. Although increasing the global reach of Formula 1 will have its benefits, you can't help but feel that Formula 1 fans will feel let down when there's so much potential elsewhere.

The Dream

Now it would be silly to suggest we should scrap this race, cancel that one, and swap another, without suggesting a possible solution. This is far from realistic and is not an expected calendar, but at the same time, all of these races could easily be on the calendar. 

In an ideal world we would start the season at Albert Park as we have done for years, it is tradition and we still need some of that. But the next four races are all different to what we are scheduled to have next season. From Australia, we head to South Africa and Kyalami. Although it would not meet the requirements to host a race, it is the closest South African circuit to meeting those and would still meet Liberty Media's ambition of taking F1 around the globe. 

2020's one-off races have provided great spectacles, which is why the European leg begins at Portimao, before moving to Mugello and returning to Hockenheim, all in place of the Chinese, Spanish, and TBC Grands Prix respectively.

If we took Monaco off the calendar there might be riots, and to be honest, we don't want to, it is embedded in F1 history and retains its place in the sixth race of the season. Next follows the weird trip in the middle of the European leg to Canada, but instead of coming back to France, we'd go straight to the Baku City Circuit, purely because I really like the castle corner. 

The Austrian Grand Prix is the ninth race of the season before Silverstone hosts the first and a unique doubleheader. The first race will take place on the 11th July as originally planned, but the second race of the British doubleheader will take place midweek, on Wednesday 14th, with qualifying the day before. That is one of our more ambitious ideas. 

The Formula 1 circus then heads to Hungary before the summer break, returning with the Belgian Grand Prix and the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. As we did in 2019, we then have an Italian duo, with the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and then the Emila Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. Nothing complicated this time just back to back races in Italy bringing to a close the 13 races in Europe.

The Singapore, Japanese, and United States Grand Prix all retain their place, but the Mexican Grand Prix is the big name to miss out in another left-field doubleheader in Bahrain. The first race will be on Saturday 31st October, around the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix circuit, full points on offer as with any other race. However, this race will determine the reverse grid for Sunday's standard Bahrain Grand Prix. An opportunity for F1 to experiment with the reverse grid idea on a truly unique circuit. 

There's a three-week break until the penultimate race of the season, which will be the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, before the season concludes at Interlagos with the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Australian Grand Prix (Albert Park) - 21st March

South African Grand Prix (Kyalami) - 28th March

Portuguese Grand Prix (Portimao) - 11th April

Tuscan Grand Prix (Mugello) - 25th April

German Grand Prix (Hockenheim) 9th May

Monaco Grand Prix (Circuit de Monaco) - 25th May

Canadian Grand Prix (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) - 6th June

Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Baku City Circuit) - 13th June

Austrian Grand Prix (Red Bull Ring) - 27th June

British Grand Prix One (Silverstone) - 11th July 

British Grand Prix Two (Silverstone) - 14th July

Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungaroring) - 1st August

Belgian Grand Prix (Spa) - 29th August 

Dutch Grand Prix (Zandvoort) - 5th September

Italian Grand Prix (Monza) - 12th September 

Emila Romagna Grand Prix (Imola) - 19th September

Singapore Grand Prix (Marina Bay) - 3rd October

Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka) - 10th October

United States Grand Prix (COTA) - 24th October

Bahrain Grand Prix One (Sakhir GP track) - 31st October

Bahrain Grand Prix Two (Bahrain International) - 1st November

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina) - 28th November

Brazilian Grand Prix (Interlagos) - 5th December

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Although this calendar is never going to happen, Formula 1 has a huge chance to make a good decision for the entertainment of the sport. Rather than going where the money talks, go somewhere where we can get a race full of drama, heritage, and a good spectacle.

Formula 1 is a global brand so the need to go around the world is obvious but, it will be at the expense of what makes the sport brilliant in the first place. Pure, natural racing.

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