Time for a Polish Grand Prix?

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Yesterday I gained a new appreciation of just how popular Robert Kubica is in his native Poland.

Monday’s poll on “Which F1 drivers do you like?” was picked up by several major Polish sports sites. Robert Kubica, who had been leading comfortably with a few hundred votes, suddenly rocketed to over 10,000.

Poland is a potentially huge market for F1 with a population of over 38 million. Has the time come to tap into the popularity of Kubica with a Polish Grand Prix?

Kubica, Poland’s first and only Polish driver, scored his maiden Grand Prix win at Montreal earlier this year and remains in the championshp hunt despite his BMW not quite being on the pace of the Ferraris and McLarens. For that, I picked him as my driver of the year so far.

There is only one Grand Prix in Eastern Europe at present, the Hungarian round, which has been on the calendar since 1986. Is it time for a second race in Eastern Europe in Kubica’s home country to capitalise on his success?

One obstacle to it would be the lack of racing circuits in the country I’m not aware of any tracks of substantial size in Poland. Kubica moved to Italy while progressing through the junior formulae because of the lack of motor racing infrastructure in Poland.

However plenty of countries with little motor racing history now have Grands Prix – Turkey, Bahrain and Malaysia for example. And none of these have had talented home drivers to cheer on – the closest being Malaysia’s Alex Yoong.

Given F1’s new-found appetite for street racing perhaps a race could be held on public roads in Warsaw? BMW made a visit to the city last month where Kubica gained a rapturous reception (pictured).

Of course, if we’re talking about countries with talented drivers that have never had a home Grand Prix, we can’t ignore Finland, home of Kimi Raikkonen, Heikki Kovalainen, Mika Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg…

Read more about Robert Kubica: Robert Kubica biography

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Time for a Polish Grand Prix?”

  1. while it is impossible for F1 going to every country that has a driver on the grid, it would actually be nice of the races start going where the fans are, not where the money is …

  2. milos – are you going to tell Bernie or shall I ?

  3. If Poland came come up with a better track than that tight, Mickey Mouse Hungarian horror….great?

    Somehow I don’t think the economics of hosting a event, paying Bernie’s fee/ransom & building the venue is viable.

  4. Kubica said himself something to the effect that it would be pointless to build a track in Poland. I mean, we don’t even have a decent road network that would allow the fans to get to the track in the first place. Plus Kubica, I think, could prove a bit of a one-off unfortunately, and in terms of driving he is more of an Italian than a Polish product. But one can always dream…

  5. DG – you can tell him :-)

  6. Well, F1 certainly has a bigger appeal in Poland than it has in Hungary, but I would miss the Hungarian Gridgirls ;-)
    Still I don’t know if Poland would be up for the high costs of getting a prestige object like an F1 race to their country.
    If Bernie can smell money, he will go after the scent like a bloodhound. So if Poland wants to have a GP, put out the bait and wait for Bernie to come knocking!

  7. Ya, it is unbeleivable that finland having produced so many good drivers doesn’t have a grand prix of its own…
    there are flying finns all over the motorsports…
    i am not aware but i guess the infrastructure should not be a problem there…is it?

  8. Polish grand prix! Come on what about Finland. They have produced 3 world champions who have taken 4 between them. 3 of which have come in the last decade!

    I hate it how F1 races are so about money and economics over where the true fans lie. When was the last time a Turkish, Bahrain, Chinese or Malaysian (Alex Yoong actually) grand prix driver even competed…if ever! This is not in anyway racist and I just feel if you have a world champion driver the least the The Big B can organize is a race in that country. And don’t say they don’t have the facilities because they can be built! We have all seen the pictures of the desert before the Bahrain track and after it…sheer greed from F1’s big Cheeses, it disgusts me – and especially with someone with Mosley’s reputation running it – It sometimes makes me embarrassed to say I’m a huge fan.

    Ok my rant is over…Germany should be good :-) x

  9. Now, wouldn’t you think that the way Max and Bernie go on about taking Motorsport to new markets that they would have the capability of getting investors from the wealthy countries to help the growth of sport in the poorer ones? This would surely lead to a bit of industrial growth around the circuits, and maybe new drivers and teams appearing too.
    As for the comments about Poland’s roads and infrasructure, check out the logistics for a GP at Donnington. The teams are OK as it is next door to an airport, but most British fans will struggle to find the place!

  10. Scott Joslin
    17th July 2008, 10:33

    I agree Ben. We should be talking about a Finnish Grand Prix before we entertain a Polish Grand Prix, however due to the small population in Finland I doubt there would be a huge possibility for Bernie to line his pockets with gold.

  11. finding Donnington during a race weekend?, follow the traffic.

  12. We’re talking about the race in Poland, but we’ve got only one man in whole competition – Kubica.

    Finnish GP – it’s a good idea… Polish GP – maybe later..

  13. There used to be a Finnish Grand Prix at Imatra for Motorbikes. It was a road track that was fast and challenging (that must almost be code for ‘not suitable for F1’), but Sheene, Mamola, Roberts etc, did have to race over railway crossings…

  14. It would be great for the fans but I don’t see it happening. There is a huge problem in PL with the lack of infrastructures (highways, hotely,…) plus is not “on” or luxurious to atract Bernie. Still I hope poles prove me wrong, they are organaising UEFA 2012, so if they manage to build the roads they need and impress the world…

  15. Assuming Bernie DID give a rat’s about the size of the fanbase in prospective F1 countries – rather than a mad grab for cash ala The Running Man’s “Climbing For Dollars” (remember that?), maybe he would look at returning to a 300 million+ populated country with a huge motorsport fanbase before going to Poland, Finland, Singapore, Bahrain, Hungary, Australia (unfortunately), Germany (twice recently), Spain (twice this year), UAE, Korea – the list may well go on soon. In the meantime, has anyone heard of “America! F*** YEAH!”? Seemingly not. But combine the populations of these other countries and you’d (I hope, for the sake of my case) only just top the U.S. This also wouldn’t be far off the total amount of U.S citizens willing to watch a Grand Prix and be influenced by TV advertising, I’d guess!

    Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that Mr. E gives a crap about anything but big race fees. Imo, it’s DEFINITELY time to go, old boy.

    Basically though, no hope for Poland, I’m afraid.

    At least Canada has a GP though….

  16. I was wondering in the other article. Are there any Polish people that dislike Kubica?

  17. Sush – ‘finding Donnington during a race weekend?, follow the traffic’.

    And take about 2 hours to get inside, like it used to be at Silverstone!

  18. @ Internet:

    Yes, in Poland we’ve got some people that dislike Kubica..
    ..but we don’t “like” them :)

  19. There are (or were) some plans to build a f1 track near Krakow or Gdansk but its too risky especially for investors as you dont have rights to organise a gp till the track isnt built. I think money dont matter that much this time as such project would be supported by polish government…
    But i hope it can be done as the more european GPs the better.

  20. I am from Poland and I am Kimi Raikkonen’s fan since 2003 (leave out minor Kubica now). Before 2012 we won’t be able to built any f1 track. Till this time boss of F1 should give GP to Finland as I think.

  21. There was plan to do Grand Prix track in Finland middle of 1990. But somehow it died. We would have a lot of great places. remeber that finand is big country and most of it is cover by forrest and more than 10.000 lakes lol.
    We have technology to make great track but we have to remember that laws are very tight in our lovely country. And other thing is that we have small population. Only about 5.5 milj. Finding money for that track would be problem. We have Rally WCC race and seems that finnish people are happy with that.
    But we can allways hope. F1 is getting more and more popular. When Keke was driving F1 everybody was laughing at him in finland. When Mika started F1 came a little bit more popular. Now we have Kimi AND Heikki,
    adn F1 is getting more and more popular. So crossing finger that our Motorsport oraganization AKK can make dream come true and we can see F1 Grand prix in Finland. Maybe winter race…..rofl

  22. Snoopy – there was the old Keimola track in Finland that was devastated by fire in 2003: more here

  23. check out the logistics for a GP at Donnington. The teams are OK as it is next door to an airport, but most British fans will struggle to find the place! {DG – comment #9}

    Go to Junction 23A of the M1, turn right (following signs for East Midlands Airport), and carry straight on until you get to the circuit turn-off. Or from autumn this year, take the train to East Midlands Parkway and walk (using the Sheffield – London St. Pancras International line). Much easier than finding Silverstone…

  24. There are a few racetracks in Finland, like Alastaro, Ahvenisto (used to host F2), etc.. None of the tracks are close to F1 standard though, so it would take a LOT of money to get to a stage where hosting F1 would be a feasible option. I’m sure attendance wouldn’t be a problem, but there just won’t be enough money…

  25. The last thing F1 needs is yet another track….the good old tracks are fast disappearing as it is, and with Central Europe travelling to GP’s is relativly easy for fans.
    Unless there is to be a race every weekend of the year, then where does the list of new possible venues end?

  26. KB – ‘Unless there is to be a race every weekend of the year, then where does the list of new possible venues end?’
    It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t. It ought to be possible to have a different mix of old and new circuits in the Championship each year – decided maybe 2 or 3 years ahead of time, so each circuit is prepared….

  27. Yes Keith there was Keimola lolol. But what i was talking about was plan of complete new specially for F1 cars. There was stocks selling for company who planned build track but never happened <<inside information lol.

    One porblem for track like that in Finland is that it should be close of big city and airport which means Helsinki, our capital. People who live near of Helsinki would not be too happy for that kind of sport events.

    They are complain allready about Rally World championship race as well. Farmers says that cows are not making milk during race, its cream what comes out :O
    So, like you see there is looong way to go before we can see F1 race in finland. Sure if Bernie can make Nokia put some money in it could happen…but i stopped believe Santa Claus many years ago :)

  28. It’s a shame that F1 usually doesn’t go where the fans are. It was amazing for me to go to the US Grand Prix last year and see hundreds of polish fans with flags. Sadly Kubica didn’t get to race that weekend. I really hope that Poland gets its event, but I’m pretty sure Bernie wouldn’t like it.

  29. Bigotez, if Bernie diden’t act foolishly and pull out of Indy this season, he would have been amazed at the number of people of Polish ethnicity out to cheer on Kubica. Assuming everything had gone as it did in Canada, there would have been many red and white flags and shirts in the grandstands, as the Midwest has been a prime destination for Polish immigrants to America for over a century. Add that to the tpeople out to see Hamilton trying for 2 in a row at Indy, and it could have been well over 100,000 in the stands….

  30. first off hi there Keith and all the others! it’s my first comment here but I’m a long time reader.

    now, on to the topic. I’m Hungarian, but I think Poland deserves to have its own GP, if Kubica can maintain his succesful F1-run. I wouldn’t mind losing the Hungarian GP, I think it’s lost its appeal a long time ago back around when the ‘iron curtain’ ceased to exist. I’m wondering why Bernie keeps coming back here. maybe (I think I read it somewhere) because he partly owns the track or something like that (correct me if I’m wrong here, this could be a rumor, I really don’t know).

    about a Finnish GP…maybe a race hosted by a Polish/Finnish track called Baltic GP could be a good compromise for both the Finnish and the Polish fans. around 2012, as far as I know the Hungaroring’s contract runs out in 2011, and I suspect that Bernie doesn’t want two Grands Prix in Central/Eastern Europe.

  31. Thank You BG!!! Somebody finally said Central Europe. People fail to realize that the communism has been abolished in European countries and that Poland is in fact in the center of Europe.

    A Polish GP will not happen without a guaranteed contract. Kubica made it clear to polish reporters that a plan to build an F1 circuit in Poland would be highly risky and foolish. Millions would be invested and everything would be in the hands of Bernie. By that time Kubica might not be around, (I hope not!) or there might not be a spot on the calendar. What happens then? You have a brand new state of the art track that would feature some local car races at best.

    It would be great if Poland had a GP but economically it wouldn’t make sense. Bernie wants F1 to spread around the world were its sponsors can really shine. Poland is a few hundred km from all the great European circuits. Also if you look at it as the EU there are a lot of GPs in one place.

    Kubica for World Champ!!

  32. Having a Grand Prix in Poland would be the ultimate Polack joke.

  33. donwatters: for future reference it is spelled “polak” and its a polish word meaning a person from Poland.

  34. yh i d prolly go for polish GP. sounds pretty nice tho.

    in add, someone said in one of the above comments that poland is not ready for GP yet, i just want to say that i jus got back from Krakow (Kubica’s home town ;) ) and in my opinion, Poland is now a normal european country such as belgium France or anyother. so i dont see any problems.


  35. I have to agree with my countryman airman. In Poland nobody will think about building an F1 track until 2012 because the biggest cities are concentrated on Euro 2012. Even if we had a track, it would be still hard to bring there an F1 race.
    As for me, I would like to see a street race in Kraków (just dreaming…:P).

  36. alonso,kubica,hamilton no doubt the best drivers
    kimi is over rated, massa lack of skills
    alonso needs better car,hamilton cold head sometimes
    kubica needs a title

  37. Toby: I agree that the USGP needs to return to the schedule, at a different venue. I personally would love to see it at a lengthened Laguna Seca. The Indianapolis course is boring and it’s in a terrible location. Indiana isn’t exactly a hotbed of road racing interest. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    Regarding your point about Bernie’s thirst for big ticket race fees, never under estimate the steps he will take to capitalize on a winning, popular driver in that driver’s home country. In the past decade we’ve seen F1 explode in popularity in Germany and Spain with the success of Schumacher and Alonso. I don’t think that a European GP in Gdansk would be a far fetched idea.

  38. Polak: Thanks for the correction. I appreciate it.

  39. Ahh…looks like we now have even more BMW fans on our site thanks to the Kube.


  40. Toby, I’m right with you on the need for a USGP return! I don’t know how long you’ve been posting on here, but I have a history of referring to that in many of my comments, so keep up the spirit!! The only thing I disagree to, with respect, is Matthew’s wish to move the race. I think Indy is a great venue, and hopefully the USGP will return there in the next few years.

    As for a future European GP in Krakow, Gdansk, or Warsaw, it could very much be a possibility in the near future. Bernie will put a race wherever it best lines his pockets with ticket and sponsorship sales. However, if it dose happen in the near future, the orginisers will need to call ti something other than the European GP, as there’s no way Valencia lets go of that event as long as Fernando is in an F1 car.

  41. BG – I completely disagree, how is that financially viable for any circuit, standards must be maintained even in years where there is no GP…

  42. KB, I think you misunderstood me. I meant that one circuit, either in Poland or in Finnland should host a race which could be called Baltic GP. Finnish and Polish investors could join efforts in building and maintaining it, and the relative proximity would be great advantage for the Finnish/Polish fans, who now have to travel quite a lot (even if they’re attending the closest race, the Hungarian GP) to see Kimi or Robert.

  43. BG, the only way a Baltic GP would work is if you had a Fin and Pole in the same team. That way the fans could all come together and root for the same colors. I don’t think Polish fans would mind wearing white and red team colors ;)

  44. This polish voting has qiute long tradiction, if you really want to know which driver peolple like the most do not use the internet:)

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