VIDEO | Why the Turkish Grand Prix showed us we need more new tracks in F1

12-10-2021 19:16

Now, in my eyes, the Turkish Grand Prix delivered. I’ve seen some people on social media complaining about the race, but I think it was really enjoyable. Of course, it wasn’t up to the level of some races this season, but there was plenty to get excited about; Fernando Alonso’s lap one woes, Lewis Hamilton being stuck behind Yuki Tsunoda for several laps, unable to get past, Carlos Sainz tearing through the field, Sergio Perez’s excellent defending on Hamilton, Charles Leclerc leading - I could go on and on.

Because of just how brilliant this season has been, our expectations are sky high, yet a few years ago, this race would’ve been considered one of the best of the season. It wasn’t as crazy as Turkey last year, not many races will ever be, but there was still plenty of intrigue.

The tactical battle of whether to pit from intermediate tyres onto slicks, like Sebastian Vettel did to absolutely no success, or whether to simply not pit all race long, like Esteban Ocon, was one that dragged on for the entire race - and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Valtteri Bottas, of course, won his first race of 2021, and he dominated from start to finish. While that might suggest a boring race for the lead, I was too preoccupied with the midfield to really care. And when Leclerc took the lead, the Monegasque driver looked like he could upset the apple cart for at least a brief moment.

The dampness of the track, as well as Sainz and Hamilton’s penalties, perhaps made this race more exciting than it would’ve been, but that’s the unpredictability of F1 - nobody can be sure what’s going to happen.

That desire for unpredictability brings me onto the topic of this video: new tracks. Now, Turkey isn’t a ‘new’ track in the sense it hasn’t just been built, but F1 has only raced at the Istanbul Park on nine occasions - that’s fairly new when you compare it to tracks like Monaco and Silverstone.

Those classic tracks are absolutely brilliant in my eyes. The British fans plus the circuit itself make Silverstone an exciting spectacle, and while Monaco rarely sees any overtaking, Saturday in the principality is the best qualifying of the year for me.

So, the old tracks certainly provide entertainment, but new tracks can have the same effect.

Formula One is trying to widen the diversity of its growing audience and continue developing the sport. The 2022 regulation change will close the gap between the top and bottom teams, while the new engine that will come into play in 2026 could bring in new manufacturers.

Popularity in America is rising, but the sport still has a long way to go; hence why the addition of a Miami Grand Prix is happening next year.

That new track may not look the best on paper, nor does the new Saudi Arabian one, but it could provide spectacle, and the lack of running there will make the race more unpredictable.

The teams typically undergo pre-season testing at Barcelona, which means every time we visit the Circuit de Catalunya, the race is normally boring and predictable, apart from the obvious (Ham - Ros crash 2016 image in black/white), because the teams have so much data from that track.

By bringing in new tracks or simply returning to older tracks, like Turkey which had been absent for nine years before it was brought back last year, is a way to spice up the calendar.

Sepang in Malaysia would be another example, as would the Bahrain Outer Loop. The less data teams have from circuits, the more unpredictable the race will be - that’s why bringing in new tracks could be so exciting.

Of course, the classics need to remain, and the issue over contracts for the circuits will be raised, but it’s feasible to change the calendar from year-to-year on a more regular basis. That would be epic!

One year we race at Imola, the next at Turkey, the next at the Fuji Speedway. Vary up the calendar and the sport will be even more exciting.

I’m a big fan of the idea of building new tracks, obviously depending on the layout, and if F1 truly wants to move into a new era, then varying tracks, and the calendar is the only way forward.

The coronavirus has obviously affected the entire world, and F1 as well, but it has allowed a variation which we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. It’s not solely responsible, but 2020 and 2021 have arguably been two of the best F1 seasons for a decade, and I do think the addition of tracks unfamiliar to drivers and the teams has played an important role in that.

What are your thoughts on the idea of adding new tracks and mixing up the calendar to create more drama? Let me know in the comments section down below!

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