The Untouchables: F1 Tracks That We Can't (or Won't) Lose
Formula 1. It's exciting. It's dramatic. It's the most technologically-advanced racing machines on the planet being driven on the ragged edge by 22 of the world's best drivers.
Why then, did I find myself taking as much interest in my morning breakfast as I did in the television while I watched the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday morning?
Yes, the bacon and eggs were delicious, and no, I don't have HDTV yet, but I don't think those were the reasons for my lack of interest. So, following the process of elimination, we must conclude that I simply found the race boring.
Sure, I understand that Ferrari was blowing the doors off the competition, so there was never any doubt about who would win. And the way today's F1 cars are designed can make overtaking very difficult. Also, I'm 16 years old, and since teenagers generally have the attention span of a small rodent, maybe it wasn't such a huge surprise that I found the racing dull.
But hang on, lets back up the truck a bit. F1 teams do thousands of kilometres of testing at Barcelona every year. As a result, most of the drivers know the track better then their backyard (probably because you can fit a half-dozen Wembley Stadiums in their backyard, but you get my point). So the amount of times they make mistakes will be few and far between.
Furthermore, there are virtually no overtaking spots to be found at the Circuit de Catalunya. I mean, after the first few laps, I only recall seeing two successful passes. Since the track's arrival onto the F1 calendar in 1991, only four pole-sitters have failed to win the race. That is simply ridiculous.
To avoid processional races such as last weekend's, it would be in the best interests of the sport, and its fans, if Formula One Management (a.k.a. Bernie Ecclestone) dropped circuits like Barca's, in favour of the ones that fall into at least one of the following categories: The Classics and The Bernies.
The Classics are the tracks that are often steeped in history. Some of them are quite old, and have become strong fixtures on the F1 calendar over the years. Others haven't been around as long, but they are races that the drivers and fans look forward to, and usually produce exciting moments time and time again. The circuits that fall into this category are:
- Silverstone (Great Britain)
- Monza (Italy)
- Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)
- Interlagos (Brazil)
- Montreal (Canada)
- Albert Park (Australia)
The Bernies are recent additions to the calendar that may or may not produce exciting racing. All of these tracks have the following in common:
1. Are located in lucrative markets that attract new audiences and, most importantly, sponsors.
2. Have state-of-the-art grandstands and paddock facilities.
3. Are designed by Hermann Tilke, so the racing quality may be hit-or-miss.
The name refers to Bernie Ecclestone. As many of you know, he is the president and CEO of FOM, and the guy who basically calls the shots when it comes to which tracks go and which tracks stay. What Bernie wants, Bernies gets, it's as simple as that. The Bernies include:
- Sepang (Malaysia)
- Sakhir (Bahrain)
- Shanghai (China)
- Istanbul (Turkey)
Over the next few years, more and more "Bernies" will be added to the F1 calendar, and other tracks will be excluded as a result. As a fan who appreciates good racing and the sport's history, I think it would be sad to see any of the "Classics" get axed. While F1 expands into new markets, blend the old and the new, and you will achieve balance.
And maybe some overtaking, too.
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