5 Countries That Would Be a Great Addition to the Formula 1 Calendar
It’s the way of the Formula One world that the announcement that New Jersey, Korea and Mexico lost their spots on the 2014 race calendar did not come as a massive surprise.
Hosting a F1 Grand Prix costs millions and takes years of planning and development, not to mention numerous FIA inspections to make a new race happen.
Financial problems are understood to be the reasons behind both Korea and New Jersey missing out, whilst the lack of a commercial contract scuppered Mexico’s return with work on the Mexico City track not even having started.
There has been talk about several countries returning to host grands prix over recent years, and Austria is set to return in June next year.
All things being good, here are five countries it would be great to see back on the calendar judged on criteria such as potential for fanbase expansion, classic circuits and financial infrastructure.
A long time mainstay on the F1 calendar, France has hosted grands prix from the beginning of the century on classic tracks such as Reims, Rouen-Les-Essarts and more recently Paul Ricard and Magny-Cours until leaving the calendar at the end of 2008 for financial reasons.
France has a popular fan base with drivers such as Francois Cevert, Rene Arnoux, Jean Alesi and of course Alain Prost capturing the public’s imagination for the sport.
Although a popular and testing layout for the drivers, Magny-Cours was never the most popular with fans due to its remote location, and several other venues have been mooted for a future French Grand Prix, such as a return to Rouen, Versailles, a circuit near the airport and even a street circuit near Disneyland Paris.
Paul Ricard was eventually chosen as the venue for the grand prix to return in 2013 with Autosport reporting at the time that a deal had been done. But it never materialised with a lack of finances cited as the main reason.
4. The Netherlands
The monstrous Zandvoort circuit in The Netherlands played host to the Dutch Grand Prix for almost every year from 1948-1985, after the circuit’s organisers went out of business.
There are few countries in the world that show more of a passion for almost every sport under the sun, hordes of orange clad fans flocking to see anything from football and tennis, to darts, cycling and F1.
Although the Zandvoort circuit has since been sold and redesigned to host minor motorsport events, it has never seriously been considered for a return.
But with such welcoming and friendly citizens, a trip to watch F1 in Holland would be a joy for any fan of the sport.
Although it has been confirmed that Mexico will now miss out on hosting a grand prix in 2014, there is still hope that the famous Mexico City circuit will return to the calendar in 2015.
The venue last hosted a grand prix in 1992, when Nigel Mansell emerged victorious, and, although it was given a provisional slot for 2013, a commercial contract could not be completed in time.
It’s not that either the funds or the fanbase in Mexico should stand in the way of it happening, with Autosport quoting Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim in the summer that all the pieces of the jigsaw were coming together.
I believe there is potential to do more races in the Americas and I believe that Mexico is in the right spot to do it. It's a stable country by and large, our economy is doing quite well and we have drivers people can identify with. All of the pieces are coming together and I believe the potential promoters are doing a good job in trying to secure something.
The Mexican people also now have drivers they can identify with in the form of Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez, and filling the venue should not be a problem due to its proximity to North America.
“I believe that 2015 it can really happen,” Perez is quoted on Autosport. "We are a lot closer right now than we were a couple of months ago. I have big hopes that 2015 can be when Mexico will happen.”
With both Brazil and Mexico likely to be on the calendar in 2015, there seems little chance that there will be space for a third race in the area.
If there was, however, Buenos Aires would almost certainly be at the very top of that list.
Argentina’s capital city last hosted a grand prix in 1998 after a brief four year return, but it has not returned since. It looked as if it may well have happened in 2013 after Sky Sports quoted the Argentina minister of tourism as saying that a three-year contract would be signed for a new Hermann Tilke circuit in the resort of Mar del Plata.
"The National Government accepts the challenge of organising the Grand Prix of Argentina to promote the image of our country around the world. In May, the three-year contract will be signed between all parties involved."
The home of Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentina certainly has a fan base for F1 that is second only to football, and Buenos Aires is renowned as being extremely European in nature.
Even the country’s president, Cristina Fernandez, said that having a grand prix back in Argentina was a high priority, as quoted on Autosport.
We are closing [the deal]. For three years, in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in the city of Mar del Plata. For us it will be very important because after football, racing is the second favourite sport for Argentineans. Getting Formula 1 back to Argentina is something we deserve in order to be able to show the things we have.
It seems almost certain that Argentina will return to the calendar at some point, it’s just a matter of when.
1. South Africa
The famous Kyalami circuit in Gauteng Province hosted a grand prix from 1967 to 1985, with the exception of 1981, before political sanctions led to it losing its place on the calendar.
Two years after Nelson Mandela saw freedom, the South African Grand Prix returned to the calendar with a challenging new configuration until the circuit promoter went bankrupt after just two years.
There had been hopes of F1 returning to South Africa at a new Cape Town venue, although the bid apparently hit the rocks due to a lack of political commitment, as reported by Autoweek.
The plans had been for a spectacular 3.29-mile circuit on the coast with Table Mountain and the ocean as the backdrops.
“This is something that has to happen not just for Cape Town, not just for South Africa, but for the African continent as a whole,” Autoweek quoted Cape Town Grand Prix operations officer, Bjorn Buyst.
South Africa is a proud and passionate sporting nation and is no stranger to hosting big sporting events as proven with the successful 2010 football World Cup.
Should the government authorities endorse the project and the necessary funding be in place, there seems little doubt that Bernie Ecclestone would love to add a grand prix Africa to his continental portfolio, as he told BBC Sport three years ago:
It is another continent where we should be. Then chances are all right. We have been talking to people in Cape Town Hopefully now people will now think what the World Cup has done for Africa could also be done by Formula One. It would be nice to think that then we had then more or less covered the world.