We’re all F1 fanatics here but even with a biggest-ever calendar of 19 races this year that still leaves 33 F1-free weekends.
So what’s the other must-see racing action in 2010 this year? Here’s my top ten picks – name yours below.
British Formula Three, Oulton Park
Rounds one, two and three – 3rd & 5th April
The traditional Easter weekend race at Oulton Park is a must-see for me – the first chance to see the new crop of young drivers fighting it out for honours in the British Formula Three championship.
Two years ago Jaime Alguersuari and team mate Brendon Hartley tangled at the hairpin, leaving Oliver Turvey to win.
Last year got off to an amusing start as Max Chilton jumped the start by a good five seconds and passed my position halfway down the start straight while the rest of the field were still waiting for the green light. Have a look at the video from the race below:
The 2010 British F3 season kicks off the day after the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Formula Two, Silverstone
Rounds one and two, April 16th-18th
The Formula Two championship was re-formed last year and for its second season the cars are being given more power and more grip.
Will this be enough to make a series an essential step on the path to F1 – which it really should be, given its name? We’ll get our first look at the 2010 contenders at Silverstone in May.
Indy Racing League, Indianapolis 500
Round four, May 30th
The Indy Racing League continues to get back on its feet in its third year of re-unification. This year Takuma Sato joins the sport’s former F1 contenders such as Robert Doornbos and Justin Wilson.
The centrepiece Indy 500, held the same day as the Turkish Grand Prix, is essential viewing. Also keep an eye out for the classic Long Beach street race, formerly on the F1 calendar, and the series first visit to the streets of Sao Paolo and Barber Motorsports Park.
Last year’s Indy 500 wasn’t a vintage race but it was a result to remember. Helio Castroneves won the race for the third time having returned to the championship having been investigated for tax evasion:
Le Mans 24 Hours, Circuit de la Sarthe
Like the Indy 500, a historic race which gets on this list by default. This year’s race is an especially tantalising prospect as Audi prepare to hit back at Peugeot, who finally defeated them last year.
Former F1 champion Nigel Mansell will make his long-overdue first appearance in the race (he originally tried to contend it in the early eighties). And Aston Martin will enter a pair of their gorgeous V12 coupes once again.
Here’s a video of last year’s race getting started. Anyone fancy a 24-hour live blog for this year’s Le Mans?
Rounds seven and eight, 19th-20th June
This year’s GP2 line-up is already looking exciting. iSport duo Davide Valsecchi and Oliver Turvey have shown good form in the Asia series, ART boast Ferrari-backed Jules Bianchi and there’s plenty of promising talent like Sergio Perez and Alexander Rossi elsewhere on the grid.
The championship’s sole foray away from the F1 support schedule takes them back to the fantastic Algarve circuit in Portugal where the series concluded last year. It’s a pity the track hasn’t got an F1 deal, but watching the Formula 1 drivers of tomorrow slug it out over its crests and swoops is the next best thing.
Goodwood Festival of Speed
Yes, yes, it’s not really a race – but with an entry list the likes of which Goodwood attracts, who’s complaining?
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both appeared last year and hopefully they’ll turn up again for McLaren in 2010.
Hamilton’s hopes of driving Ayrton Senna’s 1988 McLaren up the hill last year were dashed – will he get the chance this year?
Expect plenty of other appearances from contemporary F1 drivers and teams plus loads of classic Grand Prix cars and racers. If you’ve never been to this before, you really are missing something special. Take a look at F1 Fanatic’s coverage from last year:
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009
- My top 40 pictures from the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009
- F1 cars, post-1980 (Goodwood Festival of Speed pictures)
- Williams F1 cars collection (Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009 pictures)
- F1 cars, pre-1980 (Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009 pictures)
- Life L190 – the worst F1 car ever – to run at Goodwood Festival of Speed
- Non-F1 cars at the Goodwood Festival
- 100+ pictures of F1 drivers and cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
American Le Mans Series, Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta
Round nine, 29th September – 2nd October
One of few opportunities to see the best LMP1 racers in action next year. The 1,000 mile/ten-hour race around the challenging Road Atlanta circuit is also one of the rounds which comprise the new Intercontinental Cup for Le Mans prototypes, the precursor to a new world championship for the cars starting next year:
Le Mans Intercontinental Cup
Round ten, 30th-31st October
Increasingly, the DTM is the only touring car championship I bother to follow very closely. The WTCC put me off long ago with its ridiculously short races, poor choice of circuits and success ballasting. I still have a soft spot for the BTCC but there’s no denying the championship is a shadow of what it what in its mid-nineties heyday.
It may only boast Mercedes and Audi as manufacturer entrants but DTM’s cars are more dramatic and they race on some great tracks.
This year the championship is heading out to China once again, to a street circuit in Shanghai. Could this new venue be the future for F1’s presence in China, which has struggled to draw a crowd to the remote Shanghai International Circuit?
Hopefully the DTM won’t suffer a repeat of the loose manhole covers that plagued their 2004 visit to the country, as well as A1 Grand Prix’s attempt at holding a street race in Beijing in 2006.
Macau Grand Prix, Guia circuit
The most coveted of the big F3 races, drawing the cream of the crop from the British, European, Japanese and other championships. This is a proper street circuit, mixing fast straights, tight corners and unforgiving walls.
GT1, San Luis
Round 19 and 20, 5th December
The entry list for the new FIA GT1 world championship reads like a Top Gear episode: Aston Martin DB9, Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV, Maserati MC-12, Nissan GT-R, Ford GT…
The supercar fun gets started at Abu Dhabi in two months’ time and the season wraps up at the gorgeous Potrero de los Funes lakeside circuit in San Luis, Argentina in December.
Have a look at the gorgeous circuit in this video:
These are the ten races outside of the F1 championship I most want to see in 2010. But what other events do you think I should make time for? What are you going to be watching this year?
Should I be getting up at midnight to watch Australian Touring Cars? Which races on NASCAR’s mammoth schedule are most worthy of our attention? Is it time I broadened out from four-wheel circuit racing to take in Moto GP and rallying?
Or maybe for you F1 is number one and nothing else will do. Make your case in the comments for which are the must-watch races this year.
Read more: Watch more than just F1 races in 2010