Start, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017

Which races will F1 lose as Liberty realigns the calendar?


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Zandvoort’s return to the Formula 1 calendar, confirmed yesterday, has long been an open secret in the paddock. It’s been clear for some time the circuit nestling amongst the North Sea dunes hoped to feed off Max Verstappen mania to reinstate a race last held more than three decades ago.

Saliently, the contract is for an initial three years, which seems on the short side Verstappen is only 21 and appears to have a long and bright career ahead of him. So which of the parties pushed for such a short duration?

Given the cost of upgrades required to bring the circuit up to FIA Grade 1 (F1) specification – plus much-needed infrastructure investments – and a realistic capacity limit of 90,000 spectators and overall paucity of grandstands, three years seems too short a timeframe for a reasonable return on investment.

Most of F1’s current (new) race contracts are of five-year duration, with break clauses after three, so unless there are enforceable options on Zandvoort’s side, the circuit could find itself coming up short. It would not be the first such instance, either.

Zandvoort’s return has obvious implications for the rest of the calendar. Which two of the three grands prix on F1’s current ‘doomed’ list – Spain, Germany and Mexico (Italy and Britain appear to be safe) – will survive another year? Already we know Germany’s contract is for this year only, with an option on Liberty’s side for 2020, and nothing thereafter, while the other two are fully out of contract after their respective 2019 events.

Where is Liberty’s restructuring of the F1 calendar leading? Does one grand prix in South America suffice; should the USA have more than its single round at the Circuit of the Americas? Is Europe currently best served by its nine (11 if one stretches the region to include Russia and Azerbaijan, and 13 if Europe is lumped in with Middle East), or should that number decrease?

Liberty’s own numbers (below) break down where in the F1’s estimated 508 million fans are to be found (below). If this truly is a fan-orientated sport in the way we are often told it is, the location of races and the number of fans should eventually align as the owner of F1’s commercial rights will eventually allocate races on the basis of fandom. So let us do the math and analyse the average number of fans per race, per region as per the current calendar.

RegionFansNumber of racesFans/raceProjected races
North America (exc. Mexico)100 million250 million4 (+2)
Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA)150 million1311.5 million6 (-7)
Latin America (inc. Mexico)77 million238.5 million3 (+1)
Asia-Pacific (APAC)181 million445.3 million8 (+4)
Total/average508 million2124.2 million21 (-)

The United Nations lists 206 states (of which 190 hold undisputed sovereign status, with 16 being disputed). On the basis of this list and 21 current grands prix, it follows that a little under 90 per cent of countries don’t even get to host an F1 round this year.

Grid, Yas Marina, 2018
Are there too many EMEA races?
Based on the table above, EMEA, particularly the Middle East and its two events is over-served by a factor of almost 200 per cent, while APAC is under-served by a factor of 50 per cent. North America, too, could double the number of its races to ‘breakeven’.

All this assumes, of course, a continuation of F1’s 21-race calendars, but it seems the limit has been reached – particularly if budget caps are introduced. How can teams be expected to reduce costs on one hand while incurring increased costs due to expanding calendars on the other.

Restrictions on race personnel, spare cars, testing, caps on items such as engines and standard tyre contracts mean that it costs roughly the same per team – whether Ferrari or Sauber – to design, build and race two cars over a season, with a ballpark figure of $100m being bandied about. The balance covers costs of driver salaries, marketing/hospitality and car development, and hence the overall differences.

On that basis the cost of actually competing currently averages $5m/race, so it stands to reason that expanding calendars to 25 legs cost teams around $20m extra at a time when they’re facing budget caps. There are arguments that more races result in more income, but sponsors, TV broadcasters and ‘bridge and board’ advertisers have finite budgets, while boosting the number of rounds skews F1’s desirability factor.

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Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monaco, 2018
Monaco: A “decaying anachronism”
Thus, any calendar realignment is likely to come at the cost of European rounds, particularly as these events pay amongst the least in fees. For starters Monaco, whose contract expires next year, should pay up or face the chop. Where once it was F1’s blue riband event, the jewel in F1’s crown, it is today a decaying anachronism which fails to even attract a harbour full of dinghies, let alone super-yachts.

Whichever way one looks at European races, it is inevitable that there will be some rationalisation, with the addition of Zandvoort bound to hit Hockenheim (the most likely loser) or Barcelona, with Mexico having the best chance of the three ‘besieged’ races to retain a slot – certainly if one looks at the imbalance of the calendar as per the table above.

The same logic applies to a mooted race in Copenhagen (the Kevin Magnussen factor) and other European venues aiming to host a grand prix: inclusion is likely to come at the cost of another European race. Indeed, a case could be made that F1 should cull the number of European legs rather than increase them.

Of course, traditionalists will argue that Europe is F1’s heartland, its centre of passion, but the flip side is that nine (purely) European races in an area of 10 million square kilometres equates to a race per million square kilometres, while the USA/Canada (total 20m sq. km.) has but two races, or a race for the same land area as the whole of Europe…

Then, forget not that Liberty’s EMEA fan count includes the continent of Africa, which has not hosted a grand prix since 1992/3, skewing the race count even more. Morocco may hold Formula E and WTCR rounds but sub-Saharan Africa currently hosts no FIA World Championship rounds save for a WRX round in Cape Town, whose contract expires this year.

Given rumours of Kyalami’s return to the F1 calendar, on a recent trip to South Africa I made a point of enquiring about the chances of a South African Grand Prix. For starters, it seems the current owner of the circuit, a family trust, has no interest in hosting an F1 race, but is prepared to lease the circuit for the appropriate period for such use.

An international consortium, said by Liberty insiders to be headed by Wayne Scheckter, son of former F1 driver Ian and nephew of 1979 Ferrari world champion Jody, is planning to pitch. However, if numbers being bandied about are any indication, the project is likely to sink even before it dons waterwings unless granted state support – unlikely given that F1 is still viewed as an apartheid-busting, elitist activity.

Kyalami, 2018
A return to Kyalami looks unlikely
A eye-watering hosting fee of $65m ($200m for a three-year deal) is said to be on the table, with circuit rental, (amortised) upgrades to Grade 1 level and promoter expenses taking the cost per race to $75m (R1bn). With a capacity of 80,000 and no state support in the offing that pans out at almost $1000 (R12 500) per average three-day ticket, or more than a qualified teacher earns per month.

Still, F1 cannot dub itself a true ‘world championship’ without a leg on every inhabited continent, so, if Liberty was prepared to race in Miami for free to build its profile in the land of NASDAQ – and still does in Monaco to suck up to high-rollers – it should look at sharpening its pencil for Africa rather than charging what would be the highest hosting fees in F1 history.

However, correcting the overall calendar imbalance will be no easy task, but two regions in particular simplify the matter: North America and Latin America, with both needing to gain two and one race respectively. In the former case retaining Montreal and adding one race to each of the country’s two coasts while sticking to Austin makes perfect sense. Failing that, a coastal race and one in Las Vegas ticks those boxes.

For Latin America the trick is to retain Mexico City (which has been hit by the new national government’s refusal to continue paying for it) and a round in Brazil (preferably Sao Paulo) while adding a race in Buenos Aires (mooted recently) to take the tally to the requisite three.

Although Vietnam is confirmed from next year onwards, adding further races in APAC territories is complicated by F1’s history in the region: Turkey, Malaysia, India and Korea all had unhappy experiences, although the first two named countries recently made noises about returning to the calendar, and all four countries have circuits that meet (or did) F1 standards.

Indeed, allocating a race to Turkey solves part of the European problem: swapping with Azerbaijan’s race reduces the imbalance, while retaining a race in the greater region. Malaysia seems a shoo-in in future.

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India has a burgeoning motor industry (and middle class), and (the remains of) a circuit outside Delhi. The place deserves a second shot, but the sport suffered too many administrative and functional glitches. Korea is, though, another story, provided the race is a street event in or around Seoul, i.e. as far from Mokpo as possible, for the most southerly tip of the peninsula did the country, and F1, no favours.

While the country and its motor brands were far from ready for top-line motorsport in the late noughties, both KIA and Hyundai are now respected competitors in other FIA motorsport categories, so Korea gets the nod over India. Plus, who knows – one or the other of its motor brand may enter F1 in future.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa looks most likely to lose races. This might be as many as seven, or six after Azerbaijan’s swap with Turkey, five after either Germany or Spain drop off, four if both do, as seems likely if Mexico retains its place.

Clearly another of the drop-outs needs to be either Bahrain or Abu Dhabi given over-saturation in the region, preferably the latter as Bahrain pulls out all stops to make F1’s sojourns as pleasant as possible. Three to go.

Obviously a prime candidate is Monaco unless the Prince pays the going rate in future, which seems unlikely. Meanwhile Paul Ricard’s date and location – within a month and 300km from the Principality – makes it the alternate candidate. But one of the two needs to remain on the calendar to tick the Francophone box.

Which two other races could go? The list of candidates (in alphabetical order) is: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Hungary, Italy, Russia. Selecting two of the six is an excruciatingly difficult task, so let’s work in reverse order by establishing which countries are most likely to remain on the calendar. In pole position is Russia, simply as it pays a wad and would be the only event in the emerging region after the Azerbaijan found itself swapped for Turkey.

Start, Red Bull Ring, 2018
F1 prize money changes could hit Austria’s race
Britain and Monza need to be retained for historic reasons: the former given that the country is home to seven of ten teams, with an eighth, Toro Rosso, having a base there, while Monza is the only venue with soul.

That leaves Austria, Belgium and Hungary. The latter, ironically the youngest outright addition to the European roster of races, has a catchment area that takes in Austria, parts of Germany and the entire Eastern Bloc (the promoters are making a big deal of Robert Kubica’s return this year to attract the Polish market), so is secure.

Thus Austria seems the most likely drop-out given its dwindling attendances and the fact that its hosting fee is indirectly subsidised by Red Bull’s share of F1’s inequitable bonus structure, which will likely be reduced from 2021. And for the last four years Belgium has been sustained by the ‘Max factor’, which is likely to be heavily reduced now that Zandvoort has been confirmed.

Thus, over time Spa-Francorchamps, arguably the most iconic and certainly the most scenic of all venues on the F1 calendar, will likely be dropped as Liberty makes way for ‘new races in iconic venues’. And it may not be the last.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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86 comments on “Which races will F1 lose as Liberty realigns the calendar?”

  1. Losing Spa for Zand (give me strength!)

    1. I would like to see them alternate, maybe including a third venue (nurnburgring).
      Others could do the same.
      I think a GP every third year is more special than an annual event.
      Furthermore, it reduces the knowledge of each team of the venue; thus a bigger challenge to the drivers and teams.

    2. Agreed! If they drop Spa I’ll stop watching.
      As to the fatuous ‘land area per race’ argument – hey let’s have another Canada GP and we can build the circuit in the Yukon… (total land area nearly half a million square kilometres, population density 0.08 per square Kilometre).

  2. Surely a simple fix is to bring back the rotating “European Grand Prix” type arrangements, between the “other runs” of Europe, could mix that up to Western European GP (alternate France / Moncao), Benelux GP alternating between say Spa & Netherlands , “European” could alternate between one of the German (as it “kinda” once did) and Budapest.

    Could even extend that concept to go as far as a rotating “Western Asia” GP between Turkey and Azerbarjan. Then they could alternate an “Arabian” grand prix between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Another one a “southeast Asian GP” – alternative Vietnam / Malaysia and/or Singapore – could ape some historical references with snazzy sophisticated sounding names like “Nusantara” / “Indochina” – with consultation of locals to avoid offence…

    Would make it a more varied calendar taking in the places that want and deserve to host without going as far as “removing” them indefinitely which is sad state of affairs

    1. @Charles Fox: Its not a bad idea for circuits that being used by multiple categories (those that bring in significant revenue) and not just F1. If thats not the case, then the circuits would have very little revenue in the ‘off’ years and eventually it gets very tough to maintain.

  3. Dieter doesn’t seem to like Monaco!

  4. Monza the only venue with ‘soul’?

    1. Yes, I also read that and thought the same. What!? Spa of course is completely soulless.

  5. I think the main criteria for deciding which races to axe should be quality of the race course. Heritage is not all that important, especially since a course still has heritage if you return after racing elsewhere for a decade. On this basis, any F1 calendar without Spa would be ludicrous.

  6. I wonder where F1 got the fan numbers from, is it based on TV viewing figures?

    1. I was wondering the exact same, as the Asia Pacific fan base was far higher than I expected. I’m in this region and would never had guessed it to be higher than the traditional “home” area of Europe.

      Keith, does the site visits region breakdown work out similar? I vaguely recollect you doing an article a while back on this and it was heavily UK/Europe, but given the url at the time could have been the reason.

      With the new name/domain and other recent additions I’m curious to whether it has changed or not, and how similar it is to the Liberty fan breakdown.

    2. Yep. 100 million fans in North America? Somebody’s smoking something. There are about 360 million people in Canada and the U.S. which means about 150 million adults so, according to this ridiculous fan count, more than half of adult North Americans and F1 fans. Good luck with that; it is actually impossible to find ANY reference to F1 in sports reporting in the U.S., either on TV or in newspapers. I could walk up to 100 random persons and ask them about F1 and I would get 99 blank stares. ESPN, the American F1 broadcaster, is reporting about 700,000 viewers this year and that’s with free viewing (if you have cable). Nope, 5 million fans would be more realistic.

      1. I agree with you. 5 million from North America might even be too much — 2 million from Canada, 2.5 million from Mexico and (maybe 500K from the USA.

        Plus, why are Europe, the Middle East and Africa all lumped together? At 150 million, the breakdown must be Europe: 149.5 million, the Middle East: 100K, and Africa: 400K.

    3. the entire population of Australia, Singapore and Malaysia (a former venue) comes to a total of ~62 million by current estimates. i dont think f1 is in the top 10 in all three countries. That said, a vast majority of the fans among 181 million must be from Russia and China. India would account for a million tops (random estimate). Even if you include subscribers on youtube and apps, 181 million different fans in APAC does seem very high and incredible.

      1. Have to mostly agree with that assessment @webtel, but for China, a couple tens of millions spread over Hong-Kong, the urban area on the mainland coast north of it (ah, Guangdong), and the in other big urban agglomerations from Shanghai north to Beijng, it will be a rounding error so I could see that easily be the case.

      2. As someone from Malaysia, I would say Formula 1 should safely be in the top 10. Maybe more towards the lower top 10 than the upper though.

    4. These are pulled directly from Dieter’s behind. There was some discussion from another article where he was trying to say there are 500 million fans watching F1. Which is like 1 out of 15 people in the world. This is a niche of the niche sport of auto racing and stating numbers that rival the world’s most popular sport are ridiculous.

    5. 100 mln fans for USA and Canada alone? So they count over 1/4 of entire population of USA and Canada as F1 fans?

  7. While an equitable distribution of races around the world is welcome worthy, wouldnt reducing the races in Europe significantly inflate the logistics costs of the team ?
    I think F1 is too expensive to go that far and reduce the number of races in Europe.
    And i am very much sceptical about the race in Vietnam for one particular reason–ticket prices. The cheapest ticket prices in 2018 were in China averaging out at 160 USD across all categories (source: internet).; 160 USD is 3.7million Dong. Turns out that is somewhere around the monthly salary of an average worker in Vietnam.
    For a comparison, When India held a GP for the third time in 2013, grandstand tickets were cut down by 60% compared to the price in 2011. Unsustainable to say the least.
    I hope Vietnam fares better.

  8. Many great points here, but I suppose the key words are right at the end: ‘Iconic New Venues’. To my recollection, none of the new(ish) tracks added to F1 calendar are quite iconic. Turkey was alright and Austin, because it copied features from other circuits, but none come close to Spa-Francorchamps, Suzuka, or Monza (the last real high-speed circuit). My understanding is that Liberty’s long term plans revolve around new races inside major metropolitan areas…can those really deliver iconic racing? Singapore is one the most boring tracks ever! Also, I fully agree with Charles Fox above…there would be nothing wrong with regional races alternating between countries…along the lines of European GP, Mediterranean GP, Pacific GP, etc…

    1. I rather enjoy the Singapore street races. And it snit like F1 circuits are THAT much better anyways.

  9. LOL at Argentina… Keep F1 away, thank you!

  10. Neil (@neilosjames)
    15th May 2019, 14:17

    So Liberty’s figures say that approximately one in 4.5ish North Americans (if they only exclude Mexico) or one in 3.8ish (if they exclude ‘Latin America’) likes the sport enough to qualify as an ‘F1 fan’.

    That’s… surprising.

    1. You think?!

    2. There must be a pocket of 50 million fans I missed somewhere. In all the years I’ve traveled and lived in the States I have never met another F1 fan. I would even consider someone a fan if they had heard of F1 and didn’t like it. That look you get when you ask the bar tender to switch on a race says it all.

      1. @darryn: Simple. Liberty Media is based in the USA with around 5,000 staff. The staff only need to participate in selected Liberty polls about 10,000 times more often than non-Liberty employees to deliver an extra 50 million F1 fans. ;-)

        1. No idea where you are getting that 5000 number. Less than 500 is the reality. Liberty famously has a very high employee to income ratio. The employees are instead in companies that Liberty has a financial interest in, but don’t directly control. The F1 Liberty employees in London probably outnumber the rest of the company (based in Denver).

      2. Same here. I’ve been a Formula 1 fan for nearly 50 years and have never met another one.

        1. really, that is quite a stat.

  11. Make sure every year there are Grand Prix in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA, any others can be negotiated.

    1. France? You must be joking man. It is the most boring race in F1 history!
      I’d say keep interesting and historical: Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Italy, Monaco, Japan, Mexico, UK, USA, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Bahrain, Hungary, Canada and China.
      Get rid of boring: Abu Dhabi, France, Spain, Russia, Germany and Austria.
      Bring back: Malaysia and Turkey.

  12. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    15th May 2019, 14:21

    There’s a good few tracks that should remain on the calendar and a good few that don’t deserve to be there, and disappointingly the ones that are so dull they should go will probably stay and the ones that are classic or promote excellent racing will go.

    I understand the logic of representation and accessability for fans, but I’m not sure that should come at the cost of good racing. Like I’m sure Russia has a lot of F1 fans but Sochi – apart from 1 corner – is a horrible track.

    1. Peppe (@turbopeppino)
      15th May 2019, 17:29

      Exactly! Well said.

  13. I am not sure how reducing the number of races in Europe is going to reduce costs. However I accept there ought to be some level of balance between the different continents.

    I also think Liberty ought to take into account other factors such as sustainability of races i.e. are they going to appear in the calendar and just disappear a few years later. Then there are more complex issues like the human rights record of the country’s government. How can a race in Bahrain be justified for example.

    The other important factor I think is just the effectiveness of the circuit in providing a decent race. Russia has never been good a I really think it should be dropped. Spain can often be a bore fest and Monaco really is no longer fit for purpose with the current generation of F1 cars. It is of course though of huge historic significance.

    1. and I think!

    2. “Monaco really is no longer fit for purpose with the current generation of F1 cars.”
      I believe it was Chris Amon who said almost exactly the same thing some 50 years ago…

    3. If we talk human rights, then Russia, China, Azerbaidjan, Vietnam, Hungary, Brazil should be out as well.

      1. LOL, Hungary I kinda get it, but why Brazil?

      2. Every single country in the world has done something outrageous. Why are they going to the USA, then?

  14. A detailed article that concludes that Liberty will drop Spa, because there is an inequality between the number of races in Europe, versus the number of fans in Europe.
    I don’t get this, to be honest.

    It’s always about money, so Liberty is looking at ways to make more money.
    Then what about the popularity of the current races and the TV audiences per race? This is not mentioned in the article, but would that not be considered when the decision is taken to drop a classic venue like Spa?
    Liberty have a product to sell and Spa contributes a lot to the quality of that product. Dropping Spa will reduce the quality. Maybe a majority of the 181 million APAC fans flag Spa as their favorite race.
    Then what sense does it make to drop Spa and reinstate India or Korea?
    I’m not disputing the conclusion from the article, I just don’t see how this wold benefit Liberty, the fans or anyone.

    1. Peppe (@turbopeppino)
      15th May 2019, 17:36

      If they drop Spa, I swear I’ll stop watching F1. Russia, Abu Dhabi and Singapore should disappear IMO. Monaco is boring but how can you drop such an iconic place?

      1. If ylh want to drop Singapore, you will have to drop Monaco as well, sentiment be damned.

  15. José Lopes da Silva
    15th May 2019, 15:21

    If we retain Britain and Monza for historical reasons and we slash Monaco and Spa, I’ll definitely stick to F-E.

  16. Keep:
    Italy (Maybe rotate with Imola if Monza is struggling with the fee)
    Singapore (purely for the spectacle, not the circuit)

    Bin off:
    Russia (unless they go somewhere else other than Sochi)
    Abu Dhabi
    Azerbaijan (sorry but the track has only provided a couple of interesting races due to the big straight)

    European GP rotating at: Portugal (Algarve circuit), Austria, Turkey, France, Finland
    South Africa
    Northern Africa
    2nd race in USA (take your pick from/rotate) Road America, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca
    Rotate Malaysia & Vietnam
    India (maybe, just maybe, make it affordable for the locals this time)

    No more City Centre street tracks! Leave that for Formula E!!

    1. Sorry mate but it’s not up to you to decide. Baku is producing one of the most interesting races. And the whole F1 world is ready to get rid of you if they want to decide between Monaco and you Sir.

      India? don’t make people laugh.

      1. If Baku loses the race, It’ll be because the grandstands are empty and the organisation is horrendous. But if Vietnam proves something, new street circuits will feature huge straights, like it or not

  17. All credibility of this blog post being a somewhat serious, and impartial impartial look, at what races may be axed, and how F1 can look forward to maintaining it’s heritage went out of the window with this line:
    “For starters Monaco, whose contract expires next year, should pay up or face the chop. Where once it was F1’s blue riband event, the jewel in F1’s crown, it is today a decaying anachronism which fails to even attract a harbour full of dinghies, let alone super-yachts.”

    I understand that F1 needs to think of it’s marketability, emerging markets and interests of car manufacturers, but the fact remains F1 can call itself a “World Championship” just as well as certain little known American sport that involves a wooden stick and a ball can call itself “The World Series”.

    Probably the least important thing you could possibly use as a measuring stick is “race/sqkm”, what kind of useless metric is that, and you dedicated a significant portion of this blog post to this useless point of view! Far above this useless “race/sqkm” metric is: ticket prices, amount of seats in the stands, and Hotel / camping availability.

    Fact of the matter is, F1 has a much more serious problem than, “we need to divide our races faily ‘globally’ “: Fan access. the vast majority of Formula 1 fans will never be able to afford to attend a race, THAT is why F1 is seen as an elitist sport that only the priviliged Elites care about, nothing to do with the Apartheid in 95% of the markets worth considering moving F1 to.

    If Liberty Media have even the slightest interest in upholding F1’s value they should prioritize keeping tracks with historic importance (Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Red Bull Ring, Monaco, Canada) and bring in new tracks that are ideal for high quality of racing. Unfortunately, it looks like they are going the opposite direction in favoring of street circuits.

    Oh, and because the blog post writer brought up the Apartheid, how about F1 limits it’s involvement in other (middle-eastern) politically hot climates, this would protect them from future embarrassments such as: being associated with the Apartheid.

    1. Duncan Snowden
      15th May 2019, 16:25

      It was seeing the early ’80s turbo monsters haring around the streets of Monaco on FTA TV that first drew me in to F1. I know I’m not alone. Anyone who thinks it can be summarily dumped just because the racing isn’t very good is far too close to the problem to see it clearly.

      1. Duncan Snowden, well, it has to be said that, over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of people who have been voicing dissatisfaction with Monaco and also complained that it is now an anachronism, not to mention suggesting that the race has lost a fair chunk of its glamour in recent years (I recall one individual once describing how, wondering the track after qualifying, he was struck by the number of sleazy drunkards who were getting plastered and vomiting over the streets).

      2. Monaco, for me, was always about the pole position, it’s a unique track where Sunday’s victor is decided on Saturday by a considerable probability. If the calendar was full of Monacos, I agree the racing would be absolutely horrible, but I see no harm in dedicating one race out of 20+ to see which driver has what it takes to be faster than the guy in 2nd place on the grid. The short run into 1st corner also strongly favors pole position, not necessarily a bad thing for this one race.

        I could not care less about the celebrities, models ( idiotic Martini model’s faces that supposedly distract the drivers when coming out of the hairpin), or whatever glamour they try to force onto the viewers(F1’s potential for glamour died permanently with Grid Girls ban).

        On a race calendar full of Tilkedrome parking lots, Monaco is where we see who can push themselves closest to the limit.

  18. Yeah go on, let’s get rid of all the stupid old tracks and have loads of shiny new ones strategically placed around the world in order to maximise attendance (read “profit”) and provide great television (read “profit”).

    I mean, it’s not as though anybody really cares about the heritage or history of F1 is it?
    What is important is creating entertainment (read “profit”) and increasing the sports appeal (read “profit”)!

  19. The calendar is such a touchy issue for fans, but people have to realise that the calendar has to balance (a) the venues which are willing to pay to promote their countries (b) venues which are strategically important for those involved in the sport (OEMs,Sponsors etc.) and (c) historic venues. The simple fact is, while people ,may not like the Sochi’s and the Abu Dhabi’s, they pay the most money to host races, that money goes into the pot that greases the wheels that keeps the sport alive, so those venues need to be on the calendar.

    1. @geemac really fair point there, money indeed is what counts in the end.

      IMO, the calendar itself having outsider richer venues is not the problem, not at all. But they are not obligated to bring along trashy tracks, yet still they almost always does.

      Sad thing is we have potential in some, like Singapore for instance, and they choose to let it be still, already neglecting the sport, let alone the fans.

  20. I’d be gutted if F1 ever lost Monaco because Monaco is the one F1 race each year I look forward to more than any other.

    I just love watching F1 cars been driven around Monaco at the speeds they are with them running as close to the barriers as they get with such a small margin for error. That to me is the biggest challenge & greatest spectacle of the entire F1 season.

  21. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    15th May 2019, 17:19

    Stating Monza and Silverstone need to be retained for historic value but not adding Spa to that list is frankly odd

    1. @justarandomdutchguy: Agree. Spa is in my top 5 Must-Have tracks.

      Pretty sure Liberty is most keen to please me. I made a poll about it and the results reflect that exact opinion.

  22. Ok, I absolutely hate the sector 3 at Monaco. But honestly, the lack of any kind of action there is greatly because of the cars. They are made not to follow. How do you expect action without proper chasing? Oh, I know: an embedded gimmick. Of course it won’t work at Monte-Carlo. As it doesn’t work at Albert Park, Singapore, etc. Not without tweaking the tracks.
    So, the point here is both needs to compromise: Since one can’t wipe out that devilish swimming pool complex, maybe moving the pits past there, then using the JFK Av. after the tunnel to reach the start/finish line, now being at where the current pits are. Obviously, that would reflect on Saint-Devote.

    As for the cars, among lots of things, one I think it would help is shortening the wheelbase length, along with slimming the floor, which is hugely wide.

  23. For God’s sake get rid of Sochi; horrible track, horrible racing; lose Yas Marina, same reason. I don’t know how Liberty can even contemplate getting rid of Spa, Silverstone, or Monza. These are arguably the best circuits (along with Sazuka) on the calendar. Monaco needs to stay (FOR HISTORY!!) but needs to pay. Between Austria and Hungary, keep Austria (I await your hate replies) and lose Spain as well. Keep COTA, it’s a great track, along with the Mexico and Canada but add another USA race. I would love, love to see Watkins Glen back in F1, but I don’t think the surrounding area could support the circus. A street race in Vegas would be cool; adding Sebring would be cool as well. Laguna Seca would be awesome, but it’s too short.

    1. Spot on! Try googling “best f1 circuits” and you’ll see that the same circuits appear again and again in surveys of fans and ‘drivers’ and Spa is right up there along with Monza, Silverstone, Suzuka and errr…. Monaco. To drop Spa would be madness madness and a prime example of a corporate entity trying to maximise short-term cash by eroding the true value of its assets.
      The problem F1 now has is that some of the worst tracks are the most lucrative for f1 ( think Sochi and Yas marina to name Two) and some of the best are becoming unaffordable for their owners because they don’t have a compliant dictator or authoritarian government to underwrite them.
      I don’t see Monaco dropped because the bigwigs like the opportunity to hobnob with the movie stars and aristocracy and the drivers like the opportunity to work from home for a few days!

  24. My prescription in an ideal world would be as follows. Keep the total races to 20 which I think is a sustainable number.

    To accommodate Zandvoort lose either lose either Germany or Spain. Then also lose either Russia or one of the Middle East races to bring total to 20.

    If Vietnam has to be added then they have to lose one in East Asia to compensate. This is likely to be Singapore.

    If another U.S. race is added and I have no objection to this, then look at losing the other of Spain or Germany, or possibly Austria. Then if another has to added in Asia somewhere lose another of the Middle East/Russian area leaving just one of either Bahrain, Russia or Abu Dhabi.

    That’s it.

  25. Don’t think the F1 product will be worth the investment for future generations, irrespective of the market being sold in. Better racing options will be available to audiences, eventually.
    Either f1 takes the direction to prioritize competition or keep on hoping that nostalgic old timers will pay the bills.

  26. México Is in North America

    1. @joac21 Yep, we know, but the study the data was based on lumped it in with ‘Latin America’, which is why it’s been treated this way here.

    2. I got a shed load of flak last year for accidentally referring to Mexico as being a South American race.
      Welcome to my hell.

      (They know what we mean but they like to be perfect ;))

  27. Kristin (@motorsportartist)
    15th May 2019, 22:23

    Interesting piece. Liberty needs to bear in mind that not everything in the sport is simply black and white. F1 and its involved parties need to make money and be happy about the spectacle. However, races like Monaco and Spa are iconic and an integral part of the sport. Spa is actually the perfect example. I hated attending Spa as a fan but the circuit is undoubtedly beautiful and interesting to watch. Overall there needs to be a healthy balance in planning the calendar. Liberty also needs to remember that the teams/team personnel are mainly located in Europe and it makes it far easier to take the circus around Europe rather than overseas.

  28. According to F1Fanatic

    F1 fan = a person who has heard of F1

    Do you know how much 500 million is?
    That’s saying that 6 or 7% of the world population are F1 fans!
    That’s not casual viewers, that’s fans!

    These numbers are beyond ridiculous.

    I consider myself to be a fan, albeit a bit disinterested lately, but out of my closest 20 friends and acquaintances, I’m the only one remotely interested in F1.

    1. Those numbers above come from Liberty not Dieter.

      How they came up with them is anyone’s guess I think. My guess is they total global viewers for each race in the first column – it’s the only thing that makes any sense. But then it’s Liberty – not known for their sense when it comes to numbers.

  29. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    16th May 2019, 8:06

    Dieter, why would a Turkish GP count as a race in Asia/Pacific and not Europe/Middle East/Africa? As far as I’m aware Istanbul is more “Europe” than Baku is, and if not is definitely in the Middle East.

    1. Not much of the article makes much sense, to be fair.

      1. It’s not one of his best, that’s obvious. Strange “facts” ie According to Dutch media the contract is 3+2 years.
        Normal in f1. 3 year with circuit option for 2 more.

  30. A world championship has nothing to do with where it is held, only with who participates. The world cup (yes, finals) are held in a single country. That goers for every world cup game, such as Rugby, Cricket, whatever. Using the location of races to justify it’s integrity as a world championship is… to be polite… incorrect. You can have every single race in Britain and it would still be a world championship if the drivers come from around the world.

  31. ”and 13 if Europe is lumped in with Middle East”
    – Why should we even ponder that? Whether Sochi and Baku are in Europe or not is something that is up for debate but the Middle East definitely is in Asia geographically, no question about that.

    1. The surroundings of the Persian Gulf at least I mean.

  32. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    16th May 2019, 15:34

    I feel like Liberty should introduce the cost cap first, over the glide path structure, and then after that is completed, add one race each year until they hit the magic 25. I made a potential (what I would like) 2030 calendar with this article in mind:
    2 tests in Barcelona mid-February
    1. Australian GP, 3 Mar
    2. Bahrain GP, 17 Mar
    3. Vietnamese GP, 24 Mar
    4. Argentine GP, 7 Apr
    5. United States GP, 14 Apr
    6. Singapore GP, 28 Apr
    7. Chinese GP, 5 May
    8. Russian GP, 19 May
    9. Monaco GP, 26 May
    10. Canadian GP, 9 Jun
    11. Mexican GP, 16 Jun
    12. Austrian GP or Hungarian GP, 30 Jun
    13. Dutch GP, 7 Jul
    14. British GP, 21 Jul
    15. German GP, 28 Jul
    16. Belgian GP, 25 Aug
    17. Italian GP, 1 Sep
    18. South African GP or Turkish GP, 15 Sep
    19. Korean GP, 29 Sep
    20. Japanese GP, 6 Oct
    21. United States GP West or Las Vegas GP, 20 Oct
    22. Brazilian GP, 27 Oct
    23. Florida GP, 3 Nov
    24. Malaysian GP, 17 Nov
    25. Hong Kong GP, 24 Nov

    All existing and announced GPs would continue on their current tracks, except Germany, where Hockenheim and the Nurburgring enter into an alternating agreement again. Other alternating agreements would be held between the Austrian and Hungarian GPs and the South African and Turkish GPs. The Argentine GP would be run at Autodromo Juan y Oscar Galvez as it has been in the past over a modernised version of the No. 15 circuit, the South African GP would be held at Kyalami, the Turkish GP at Istanbul Park, the Korean GP at a new street circuit in Seoul or Incheon, the new GP on the west side of the US would be held at Laguna Seca (in which case it would be called the United States GP West) or on a new street circuit in Las Vegas (in which case it would be called the Las Vegas GP), the Florida GP would be held at Sebring as Miami didn’t manage to make everything work, and the season-ending Hong Kong GP would be held on a new street circuit (NOT the FE one) in, you guessed it, Hong Kong.

  33. Asia is just a bubble that’s going to pop. We’re moving away from traditional venues where THE FANS are watching and following, and where the middle class is best off to support such series, and all for the plastic circus serving as a background for the fake elites. F1 probably needs a hard restart, and it wil hopefully get it in 3-5 years.

  34. All the while I’m not supportive of the venues which are there only for the regional propaganda, I’m not exactly sure about keeping Spa. I know it may sound unpopular, but we haven’t had an ineresting race here for like 10 years. Tilke’s changes and a massive resurfacing of the runoff areas made it kind of bland for me. Mercedes’ dominance might also be a factor, but the last two good races were 2009 and 2008. I’m missing old Bus Stop too much.

  35. “For starters Monaco, whose contract expires next year, should pay up or face the chop. Where once it was F1’s blue riband event, the jewel in F1’s crown, it is today a decaying anachronism which fails to even attract a harbour full of dinghies, let alone super-yachts.”

    Monaco is smack full of super yachts. The big ones are between Nouvelle Chicane & Tabac.
    The semi-big ones are between Tabac & Piscine.
    The super big yachts are elsewhere in the Port. Not to mention the ones out at sea, to big for the Port.

    What is he talking about? The Port has never been more filled than it is today.

  36. As a Canadian F1 fan. I would say there are right around 400,000 F1 fans in Canada with a margin of error of +/- 100,000.

  37. To be honest I think the current European tracks aren’t providing good racing. Only Spa, Monza and Silverstone still get me excited. (Paul Ricard, Barcelona, Hungaroring and the new Hockenheim are just terrible.) Maybe A1/Red Bull ring is ok. (Nurburgring is also good but got no finanzing.) The good races I can remeber from the last couple of decades came from those tracks as well as Istanbul, Kula Lumpur, Suzuka, Sao Paulo, Imola and Montreal. Shanghai and Bahrain provided some good races too. And Monaco used to be good in the 90s. I think the new Parelli era ruined Monaco as a race. And most of the old European tracks are also too narrow for the modern cars really.

    1. Well it’s up to the cars to change then. I don’t see a point in having 2m wide and 5m long boats destroying the heritage of the motoracing. If the proposed solution is to move to the wider tracks with more space, I think we’ve already seen how it’s working (Abu Dhabi, India etc.).

      Bring back the old Interlagos.

  38. Also, i think the Tilke tracks are fundamentally good. The problems with the Tilke tracks are the tarmac run-offs (therefore lack off kitty litter traps) and the relatively boring settings (eg Bahrain used to look terribly boring on TV. It’s now more exciting after becoming a night race.)

  39. china ,bahrein abudhabi, singapore sochi,baku, vietnam,out from f1, more races in europe is better then asian tracks, must wake up in morning to watch race.bring back zolder estoril,imola

  40. Concluding by the likely drop of Spa is dubious on an otherwise interesting exercise.

    Dutch fan attendance is probably likely to be dropping but in the meantime Spa has been pretty much sold out in the last few years. And despite the Zandvoort arrival I bet it will remain really crowded and popular.

    Let’s not also forget that Spa is pretty much state-backed which makes it (unfairly but firmly) competitive compared to other european circuits.

    Also, it is not taking into account the actual attendance of the circuit, sixth-best for 2018.

    Seven Grands Prix, a third of all events, attracted crowds of over 200,000: Great Britain (340,000), Mexico (334,946), Australia (295,000), USA (263,160), Singapore (263,000), Belgium (250,000) and Hungary (210,000).


    I’m really not sure Spa is going to be dropped and probably the article does a wild guess on that particular point.

    1. The link is not correctly placed but is the source of the quote on

  41. Look, this idea that new circuits are necessary is just nonsense.

    The below countries should always have an F1 race:

    Azerbaijan (because of the circuit)
    Great Britain
    Hungary (I love watching racing at the Hungaroring)
    Austria (again, I like this circuit)
    Belgium (you can’t have F1 without Spa-Francorchamps)
    Japan (at Suzuka, not Fuji, unless they’re going to alternate)
    USA (don’t think that the US are ever going to care about F1 the way they do about NASCAR and Indycar, and that’s fair enough)

    Sorry that this misses out most of the Middle and Far East, but really, how much would we really miss them if F1 never went back to China, Bahrain, Russia (at least at Sochi), Singapore or Abu Dhabi?

    I’d rather see Turkey back on the calendar, maybe Malaysia

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