Formula 1: 7 Grand Prix Circuits Which Should Remain on the Calendar
With impending new circuits in New Jersey and Russia to make debut appearances in upcoming seasons, it is certain that some current tracks will have to make way.
To avoid the sport from breaking at the seams, 20 racing weekends looks to be the likely upper limit. Financial and travel restraints will deter most from taking it further.
But which Grand Prix would you fight to keep if you were in the position to choose?
Which tracks deserve a place year-in-year-out on the calendar?
Which will afford Formula 1 the greatest prospects of appealing to the masses and providing us, the loyal spectators, with continued, intense and scintillating action?
Here are my top seven tracks which should remain a focal point in every campaign.
Australian Grand Prix: Albert Park
When Melbourne's self-styled street circuit took over from Adelaide in 1996, few would have expected the track to become a staple on the calendar. For the most part it has provided the season opener, thankfully lucking into the position this season when Bahrain was cancelled.
In the U.K it forces us to willfully wake at ridiculous hours to catch the start of a season where teams find their feet and rookies aim for reputations.
When the race concludes, we watch as the rest of the country opens their eyes and cautiously take their mornings first steps, whilst we ourselves are bursting with adrenaline.
Whilst it is not the most exciting circuit out of the existing lot, it deserves its place for its consistency to put on a show. The sensational backdrop of Albert Park Lake is enough to gain our attention if the drivers are not.
As such any campaign without the Australian Grand Prix would be at an immediate loss.
Indian Grand Prix: Buddh International Circuit
Joining the barrage of new Asian circuits, the inaugural Indian Grand Prix left us optimistic of follow up races.
Whilst the on track action itself may not have set heartbeats in a frenzy, we at least saw enough to want more.
The surrounding culture is enticing and the organisers have blatantly attempted to subvert any memory of the catastrophic Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year. A superb turn out also highlighted the opportunity to bring Formula 1 massively to a part of the world that has seen or followed little up until now.
Once the 3.19 mile piece of tarmac, it has given more than a racing line to follow, then it will open up a multitude of overtaking opportunities, particularly into its various wide corners.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Yas Marina Circuit
Whilst many, including some drivers, have criticised the lack of overtaking opportunity in Abu Dhabi there is no denying that the Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit has a massive appeal.
This is mainly due to it being the only race that transitions so effortlessly from day to night. We are left with a strange composition which effectively gives us two races for the price of one.
In addition to this, the Yas Marina hotel, beautifully illuminated under the night sky, leaves you speechless—adding a sense of intensified triumph to the finale of a race.
Singapore Grand Prix: Marina Bay
In much the same vein as Abu Dhabi, the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore boasts its back drop as its more interesting aspect.
Formula 1's first ever night race circuit got off to a ropey start after Renault's infamous team order. But the track never fails to disappoint in terms of visionary excellence.
It's time slot allows European audiences to witness the racing weekend at a realistic hour and we are rewarded with the energetic and surreal parties and events that precede the Grand Prix.
I once saw something similar myself when visiting the Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong; sport amidst the craziness of the world behind.
Brazilian Grand Prix: Interlagos
Returning to more traditional circuits, arguably the best left handed circuit on the calendar is Interlagos in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Once the likes of Bernie Ecclestone realised its potential for drama it was elevated to the back end of the racing calendar, in order to provide a highly anticipated climax to a season.
And Interlagos rarely disappoints. Many will remember the sensational wet weather Grand Prix of 2003 where Giancarlo Fisichella snatched victory amidst accidents and intricate team decisions.
Drivers find themselves at this track fighting against their common right-hand first corner and subsequently battle to find a comfortable position in the drivers seat.
It also features a high-speed sector one, which contradicts perfectly with the middle section of tight and twisty corners, before an uphill climb to the start finish straight sets heart rates pulsing.
In all it is near enough, perfection.
Monaco Grand Prix: Monte Carlo
Of course there are times when the Grand Prix of Monaco becomes the epitome of dull. With improved reliability, it has become less of an occurrence to see multiple cars in the wall.
Still, at least the sport got rid of traction control and let the drivers do more.
The on edge action, as drivers frantically smash around the street circuit, is what keeps us enthralled. Drivers love the experience for the simple reason that they feel as though they are on a cliff. One sloppy mistake can have you in the wall and out of the race.
Yet if you are too cautious, you will end up with a Trulli train at your exhaust and little in the way of a result. Therefore the closer to the wall and the limit you get the better.
The glitz and glamour of the weekend as a whole, as the rich folk of Formula 1 flash their home boats to the rest of the world also adds to the wealth of imagery.
Bernie Ecclestone's reported threat to race organisers to increase the fee for the track, therefore seems appallingly immature.
Belgium Grand Prix: Spa
Providing you forget David Coulthard's kamikaze move across the tarmac in 1998 the track that should always and forever remain a part of Formula 1 is Spa.
The 4.3 mile circuit is one of the longest in the history of Formula 1, but includes more than enough focal points. The 20-plus cars burst into the tight bendy opening corner La Source, into the fast paced uphill climb of Eau Rouge before heading to the forest swallowed circuit that follows.
It is excruciatingly ironic that the drivers favourite track is the one most at risk of losing a place in the schedule.
When the Grand Prix was not a part of the 2006 season due to safety reasons and subsequent repairs, there were fears we would lose the track altogether.
And now, local residents are appealing for an end to Spa, due to the picturesque surroundings and relaxed lifestyle that oppose in aesthetics, the sometimes brutal and dramatic formula of the racing weekend.
We may have to appreciate it for what it is now, as the track that the drivers love for its challenge. Also, that we admire for its ability to produce, as it may not have many years left in it.
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