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Picking 5 Fantasy Venues for Formula 1 Races

Matthew WalthertFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2014

Picking 5 Fantasy Venues for Formula 1 Races

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    The Pyramids of Giza
    The Pyramids of GizaLefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    The Formula One calendar is never stable, with races added and subtracted nearly every season. This year, for example, instead of India and South Korea, the traveling circus returned to Austria for the first time in 10 years and will make its debut in Russia in October.

    A return to Mexico is planned for 2015 and a race in Azerbaijan has already been announced for the following season. In most cases, the locations for the various grands prix are dictated by which countries are able and willing to meet the financial demands of F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

    But what if that were no longer the case? What if we could hold F1 races wherever we wanted, without regard for cost, logistics, politics or even the safety of the tracks?

    Here are five fantasy grands prix, some more realistic than others, but none of them that realistic. Remember, we are not proposing these for inclusion on next year's schedule (although if Mr. Ecclestone is interested, our fee is quite reasonable)—this is purely a fantasy exercise.

    Here we go!

Paris and the Champs-Elysees

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    France is the birthplace of grand prix racing—it has also been without an F1 race since 2008. While there are many possible venues for a revived French Grand Prix, from Magny-Cours to Paul Ricard to Dijon, since we are in fantasy mode, we might as well go all out.

    The start-finish straight for an imagined grand prix on the streets of Paris would be on the Champs-Elysees. The cars could pass under the Arc de Triomphe before turning south to cross the Seine, passing the Eiffel Tower.

    Racing along the banks of the river, the cars could cross again at the Place de la Concorde, providing front -row seats for anyone working the weekend shift at FIA headquarters.

    Paris is already infamous for its horrible traffic, so shutting down the middle of the city for a weekend (plus setup and tear-down time) might not be popular with the locals. But the fact remains: France needs a grand prix. What better location than the City of Light?

City to City on the American Pacific Coast

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    Pacific Coast Highway
    Pacific Coast HighwayKevork Djansezian/Associated Press

    The first motor races were from city to city, rather than around a circuit with a single start-finish point. Since regular pit stops were not an option in those early days, a mechanic road in the car with the driver.

    A point-to-point race today might end with broken-down cars strung out along the route and it would be difficult to sell tickets for, but it could also be extremely interesting. With no pit stops, teams would have to decide how hard they could push their cars, and there would certainly be opportunities for the backmarkers to get into the points.

    Modern F1 races are approximately 300 kilometres long, so a route from Santa Barbara, California through Los Angeles to San Diego would work perfectly. Ecclestone wants another race in the United States, and the Port Imperial Circuit in New Jersey is more of a fantasy than some of the races on this list.

    A return to California makes sense. The U.S. Grand Prix West was held in Long Beach from 1976 to 1983 and Disney is rumoured to be interested in purchasing F1, according to Forbes' Christian Sylt.

    This city-to-city race would give fans lots of options, as Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego are all prime tourist destinations. Meanwhile, the scenery for television viewers would be second to none. Part of the track would include the Pacific Coast Highway, with beautiful vistas of the ocean and mountains.

Around the Pyramids on the Giza Plateau

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    The Great Sphinx
    The Great SphinxTravel Pix/Robert Harding/Associated Press

    Africa is currently the only populated continent without an F1 race, since the last South African Grand Prix in 1993.

    True, the political situation in Egypt is not exactly stable right now, but remember, this is a fantasy. And what more fantastical location for a grand prix race than the Giza Plateau?

    The circuit could weave around the Great Sphinx and the pyramids, the last of the Seven Wonders of the World still standing. It might get a bit sandy on the track, but there are already races in the desert in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, so how much worse could this be?

    Giza is just outside Cairo, a city already comfortable hosting hordes of tourists every year. Another 100,000 race fans would not be a big deal. And even if the Egyptians don't embrace F1, getting to the race would require a relatively short flight for European fans.

Antarctica

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    Antarctica
    AntarcticaHiroya Minakuchi/Associated Press

    Speaking of continents with no races, what about Antarctica? If F1 truly wants to be a global sport, can it really ignore this ice-covered wasteland?

    You are probably already thinking that even if a circuit was built in Antarctica, who would go to the race? Maybe no one, but there was no one (that is a rough estimate) at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix this year and they still have a race contract.

    Another potential issue is the cold weather. It would be very difficult to keep the necessary heat in the tyres, right? Well, Pirelli already has that covered—the Italian company brought cold weather tyres to the first test of the 2014 preseason.

    Kimi Raikkonen might have an unfair advantage on an icy track, due to his snowmobiling experience, but it would be fun to watch the cars power-sliding around. 

    Now we just need to figure out how to keep those penguins off the circuit.

London City Race

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    The Palace of Westminster and Big Ben
    The Palace of Westminster and Big BenSpaces Images/Blend Images/Associated Press

    OK, I know this is what all our British readers have been waiting for. There has been talk for years about a street race in London, without any substantial progress.

    But since we are not really concerning ourselves with the potential problems in this space, we can focus on the many positives of a race in London. 

    One of the biggest benefits would be another race in the F1 heartland. Despite declining attendance elsewhere, the grandstands were packed at Silverstone for this year's British Grand Prix.

    Not everyone is a big fan of street races, but I am. With lots of Armco barriers and not much run-off room, they are a real test of driving skill. And no doubt the city would embrace the race and provide a great experience for fans—and it may prove more enticing than camping in the rain at Silverstone.

    What are your fantasy F1 venues? Let us know in the comments.

     

    Follow me on Twitter for updates when I post a new article and for other (mostly) F1-related news and banter, along with a bunch of photos of my kids:

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