Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, Mugello, 2012

The other tracks F1 could race at in 2020

2020 F1 season

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The 2020 F1 calendar originally consisted of a record-breaking 22 different races.

Then a pandemic swung a wrecking ball into Liberty Media’s plans, and the first 10 races of the season have all been called off.

Question marks hang over other races. The possibility of racing at Silverstone was thrown into doubt yesterday. The Singapore Grand Prix promoters have said their race can only go ahead on its originally scheduled weekend of September 20th and cannot be held behind closed doors – criteria which are going to be challenging to fulfil.

Many postponed events are hopeful of returning to the championship later in the season. But Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey admitted the sport could end up racing at some tracks which weren’t originally on the 2020 schedule.

So where could it race? These venues hold the FIA grade one certification necessary to hold F1 races but weren’t originally on the 2020 roster:

Start, Hockenheimring, 2019
Hockenheim’s last F1 race was a thriller
Hockenheimring, Germany
Previous F1 races: 37

The most recent home of the German Grand Prix was dropped from the calendar at the end of 2019. However Germany’s relative success in tackling the spread of the pandemic, plus the fact the Hockenheimring held a race last year, makes it an obvious candidate as a short-notice addition to the calendar. The truncated layout may be hard to love, but it can produce great races, especially when the weather lends a hand like it did last year.

Nurburgring, Germany
Previous F1 races: 40

Some of the same reasoning for Hockenheim obviously applies here, though F1 hasn’t raced on the modern Nurburgring since 2013. Hockenheim therefore represents an easier ‘in’ for the championship.

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Jerez, Spain
Previous F1 races: 7

Formula 1’s motorbike counterpart Moto GP intends to start its postponed season at the twisty Andalusian circuit in July. F1 hasn’t raced there since the dramatic, title-deciding 1997 European Grand Prix, and stopped testing at the circuit a few years ago.

Valencia (Ricardo Tormo), Spain
Previous F1 races: 0

Not the little-loved street circuit, which fell into disrepair after holding five wholly forgettable races and one cracker between 2008 and 2012, but one of F1’s preferred former testing venues. Like Jerez, it’s more of a bike circuit, rather too tight for F1.

Motorland Alcaniz
Previous F1 races: 0

Lying fairly close to Barcelona, the Hermann Tilke-designed Aragon circuit hasn’t hosted F1 yet. Moto GP visits the track, however, and Formula Renault 3.5 put on some terrific races here. Run without the chicane on the back straight, it looks like a track which could produce a decent grand prix too.

Start, Magny-Cours, 2001
Magny-Cours: Club circuit turned grand prix venue
Magny-Cours, France
Previous F1 races: 18

The remoteness which played against Magny-Cours when it hosted the French Grand Prix between 1991 and 2008 may work in its favour in the age of the Coronavirus. The track is a bit of an oddball, extremely smooth and with a very short pit lane which excites the kind of people who really like strategic races. Modern F1 cars would looks spectacular in the quick right-hander leading onto the back straight.

Fiorano, Italy
Previous F1 races: 0

Yes, Ferrari’s test track has grade one status. At 2.9 kilometres it’s even shorter than Monaco, and so wouldn’t meet the FIA’s minimum F1 circuit length. Infrastructure would be a challenge too, and nine of the teams might object to one of their rivals having a bit of a home advantage…

Imola, Italy
Previous F1 races: 27

The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari made noises about standing in for the Chinese Grand Prix before the pandemic took an awful toll on Italy. It’s been modernised since it last held the San Marino Grand Prix in 2006, losing one of its many chicanes.

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Mugello, Italy
Previous F1 races: 0

While Mugello (pictured top) has never held a round of the world championship, F1 last tested there as recently as 2012. It’s not unlike Zandvoort in that it has a quick, flowing layout which and offer little room for error. The Coronavirus cloud really would have a silver lining if this gem of a track got an F1 race.

Marc Gene, Ferrari, Autodromo do Algarve, 2008
F1 tested twice at Algarve in Portugal
Autodromo do Algarve, Portugal
Previous F1 races: 0

One of the more interesting modern facilities, the Algarve track had the misfortune to be built just as F1 imposed strict limits on track testing. Aside from two visits in the 2008-09 off-season, F1 has stayed away. It is understood to have expressed an interest in welcoming the world championship.

Estoril, Portugal
Previous F1 races: 14

The best corners at F1’s Portuguese home of the eighties and nineties have been neutered. The viciously tight Saca Rolhas (‘corkscrew’, but not in the epic Laguna Seca sense) slows the approach to Parabolica, and the first two corners were tightened after F1 left in 1996.

Istanbul Park, Turkey
Previous F1 races: 9

Widely considered one of the best creations by Formula 1’s favourite circuit designer Hermann Tilke – and that’s not just damning with faint praised. Blessed with an expansive tract of land (albeit a long way from its titular host city), Tilke produced a layout which blends gradient, challenging corners such as the dramatic turn eight, and natural overtaking opportunities.

Moscow Raceway, Russia
Previous F1 races: 0

A few too many corners crammed into a relatively confined space means gives Moscow Raceway the feel of a scaled-up go-kart circuit. It’s best remembered for the DTM’s inaugural visit, when a qualifying session had to be abandoned because president Vladimir Putin’s jet flew over, meaning the medical helicopter was not allowed to fly…

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Dubai Autodrome, United Arab Emirates
Grand Prix circuit and International circuit
Previous F1 races: 0

Romain Grosjean would surely like the idea of racing here – he won GP2 Asia’s first three visits to the track in 2008. Featuring a fairly quick opening sector, it has some potential as an F1 venue.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2013
Vettel took three wins – and his fourth title – at Buddh
Buddh International Circuit, India
Previous F1 races: 3

And Sebastian Vettel would be first to call for a return to the former home of the Indian Grand Prix: He won all three F1 races at the Buddh International Circuit from pole position between 2011 and 2013. The track has developed some outrageous bumps since F1 left and was turned into a quarantine centre when the pandemic hit the region in March.

Fuji Speedway, Japan
Full and short
Previous F1 races: 4

Having been the scene of that epic 1976 championship-decider, then dropped from the calendar 12 months later, Fuji was welcomed back to F1 in the late noughties. However what had previously been a very quick track was heavily modified, especially at the end of the lap, where the dauntingly quick right-hander leading onto the main straight was replaced by several slow corners. The track therefore lost much of the spectacle a venue sat in the shadow of Mount Fuji deserved.

Korea International Circuit, South Korea
Previous F1 races: 4

There aren’t many people clamouring for a return to South Korea’s remote track outside Mokpo. The layout was derivative of many other additions to the calendar around the same time, there was little evident local enthusiasm for the race, and after four visits F1 never went back.

Kuwait Motor Town, Kuwait
Previous F1 races: 0

The newest track on this list is another Hermann Tilke creation which opened last year. It packs 20 corners into its near-six kilometre length with an up-tempo middle sector. Istanbul’s quadruple-apex turn eight, mimicked at Circuit of the Americas, has another replica here too.

Sepang, 1999
Sepang joined the F1 calendar in 1999
Sepang, Malaysia
Previous F1 races: 19

While F1 prompted the building of Malaysia’s first F1 track in 1999, Moto GP has out-lasted it at the venue. Quick corners, punishing humidity and volatile local weather often created memorable races here.

Losail International Circuit, Qatar
Previous F1 races: 0

Losail’s tight, slow corners lend it more to motorbikes than F1 cars. Floodlighting allows competitors and fans to avoid the punishing midday heat.

Buriram International Circuit, Thailand
Previous F1 races: 0

How about a home race for Alexander Albon? Buriram is another Asian track which has taken Moto GP to heart.

Start, Indianapolis, 2006
F1 went the ‘wrong way’ around Indianapolis
Indianapolis (Grand Prix circuit)
Previous F1 races: 19

Indianapolis hosted the world championship when the Indy 500 was a points-scoring race from 1950 to 1960, despite not being run to Formula 1 rules. The championship proper raced there from 2000, on a little-loved road circuit inside the oval, but succeeded largely in disgracing itself with a contrived finish in 2002 and a six-car farce three years later. IndyCar races more successfully on a revised version of the track, but nothing is ever going to compare to that mighty oval.

What, no Kymiring?

The newly-built Kymiring is expected to become Finland’s first F1-standard track, but doesn’t have its FIA grade one certification yet.

Over to you

Which of these tracks would make good venues for F1 – pandemic or otherwise? Have your say in the comments.

2020 F1 season

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Author information

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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  • 39 comments on “The other tracks F1 could race at in 2020”

    1. I’d love to see racing at Istanbul Park.

      1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        23rd May 2020, 22:13

        So would Jamal Khashoggi.

      2. Istanbul Park would be awesome! The pandemic is to be under control there as well. And logistically it’s one of the convenient options. Fingers crossed!

    2. Hockenheim, Istanbul, Fuji, Sepang and Buriram please.

    3. They need to hold a championship that has the least amount of travel possible, so maybe base it in Italy. Move all required personnel there, do two weeks self isolation. Then hold double races on Fiorano, mugello, imola and monza. Not great on people involved being apart from their families for so long though. Shame there isn’t more suitable tracks in the UK to use.

      1. I believe three continents have to be involved in the schedule for it to count as a World Championship, so Europe and two others.

    4. India will be out of question as I dont see govt opening ports of entry anytime soon. Also I would really like to see F1 race at Aragon in Spain.

      1. Edit: even though FIA/FOM have obligation to hold 2 races at Indian circuit.

      2. I’m sure I read that the Buddah circuit was being used to house displaced people during lockdown

        1. @eurobrun you are correct that the government did announce plans for the facilities at and in the area around the circuit to be converted into temporary accommodation for around 5,000 people – so whilst it is theoretically eligible, it is going to be unavailable in practise.

        2. It was used as a quarantine facility since end of March. Even if the facility was temporary racing there will be doubtful in near future with the migrant labour(estimated 3-4 Million) going back home.

    5. Looking at the European options, the Asian tracks seem to be far better suited for current F1. The only two viable options from the old continent are Hockenheim and Algarve, Nurburgring seems unrealistic since there’s too little time to even start negotiations and all the other tracks rather resemble testing venues, they wouldn’t provide for good racing in my opinion. It would be great to get races at Instanbul and Sepang but I don’t think the local governments will support it, so I think that getting the wealthy sheiks to give us one more race will be crucial. Especially when the American part of the season seems to be under still greater threat. I envisage the season consisting of Red Bull Ring, Hockenheim, Hungaroring, Algarve, Spa, Sochi, Baku, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai as an interesting scenario, with more tracks holding two races.

      1. @pironitheprovocateur I’m unconvinced of Baku’s chances of getting rescheduled for this year. I’d more likely bet in favor of it not happening (the same as with Singapore) than happening mainly due to the lead-time required for putting up the temporary infrastructures.

    6. I would love Sepang, Portimao, Istanbul, Mugello, maybe Buddh, I’d take Magny Cours too

    7. ”nine of the teams might object to one of their rivals having a bit of a home advantage…”
      – More like Ferrari would most likely object letting their direct rivals to use their track, so more about Ferrari letting or not letting than the others opting against running on the track.

      1. @jerejj whilst Fiorano might have a Grade 1 licence, because Fiorano was only ever intended for use as a testing circuit, it has none of the supporting infrastructure that is necessary for a race to take place.

        A critical limitation is that the track has no pit facilities – there is no pit lane, and the only building there is just a simple garage next to the site of the track. When the factory is literally just across the road, that’s all you need – a small garage is enough to fix minor issues, whilst for a major issue you’d just take the car straight back to the factory.

        Asides from the problem of not having any pit facilities, there are also no internal or external access roads for medical staff or for vehicle recovery – because, as a private test track, there’s no need for that. If a car were to break down, the only way that a recovery vehicle can get to it is to drive along the track – no problem if it’s a private track and you’re the only ones there, but impossible if there were another 19 drivers trying to get round.

        It’s not just a case that Ferrari might object to rivals using their venue – it’s completely and utterly impractical to hold a race there.

      2. @anon Indeed. Everything you’ve pointed out is what I also started to ponder about subsequently, especially the lack of pit infrastructure.

    8. Kuwait Motor City is a very well kept secret, I guess because there has been little (or no?) international racing there so its been kept largely away from the eyes of motorsport fans.

      It’s a huge facility at 3.5 miles long featuring 3 long straights, a lots of quick ones. Whether it would be any good for racing I do not know, but it would be nice to find out this year.

      It’s in the middle of the desert so it would be a great place to hold an Isolation Grand Prix. Or an 8000 seat grandstand on the main straight is there if needed (you never know).

      1. Nice suggestion! I guess the lap would be pretty cool in a F1 car.

      2. Out of interest, has the Kuwait circuit made it into any video game yet? It would be fun to try it.

    9. I’d love to see F1 cars at Mugello! Such an awesome track.

      1. Yeah I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since that random F1 test session there (I think it was for political reasons).

        1. @fer-no65 @olliej I still can’t wrap my head around this F1 fan obsession with Mugello. To me it’s an average layout. Could it produce an exciting race? Sure, as much as any other track.

          Also, it recently underwent the sterilisation process. While most of the gravel traps have (thankfully) remained, it now has standard flat kerbs backed by a three metre strip of tarmac

          1. Come on! The Arrabbiata corners would be awesome in modern F1 cars

          2. Jamie B, it is probably the case that people want the novelty of something new in the anticipation of a new experience, though in practise it is unlikely to deliver what they want.

            There was that test a number of years ago that brought the circuit to much wider attention amongst F1 fans, but that test did also highlight a problem – namely, the drivers commented that the track was enjoyable if you were on your own, but if you were following another driver, the layout meant that there was only one fairly narrow racing line and overtaking was only really possible in one place (the first corner).

    10. Kymiring!

      …waaait…wut?

      Well played, Keith ,well played sir.
      Please do stay safe.

    11. i want nurgubgring imola estoril,

    12. About Hockenheim,

      The truncated layout may be hard to love, but it can produce great races, especially when the weather lends a hand like it did last year.

      What I find hard to love at current design is the Mercedes-Arena curves. If there was to be a straight connecting the hairpin to the Sachs complex it would be way better. Kind of evoking that challenge drivers had when approaching Mobil 1 (current T8) with cold tyres in the past. It appears to be an easy-solving problem: the straight is already there and there is space for run-off. Plus, racing would still get visible from the arena.

      1. I agree that would be an improvement and would drastically reduce the lap time. Could be a 75 lapper which would be amusing considering what Hockenhiem once was.

    13. It’d be a nice consolation for this season to include some unusual circuits we haven’t seen before.

    14. Nurburgring, Mugello, Istanbul and Sepang please. Some of those more obscure Asian circuits do look interesting too.

    15. Pedro Andrade
      23rd May 2020, 20:09

      If they end up racing multiple times in a single country, I hope they find a way to accommodate different tracks, instead of racing several times at the same track, even if it means having less races.

      I know no two races are the same, but racing consecutively at the same tracks over and over seems in a way to be against the spirit of a world championship, it’s like a feeder series where there are races in the same place multiple times. If they race in Germany multiple times, I wish they find a way to fit in both Hockenheim and Nurburgring, same for Italy with Monza, Imola or Mugello, Spain for Barcelona and Jerez…

    16. If Paul Richard had to cancel the French Grand Prix, what justification would there be to host a race at Magny-Cours?

    17. Copy editor needed. So many mistakes in this article.

    18. Magny cours, Imola, Nurburgring, Hockenheim and Fuji is what i want
      Great tracks

    19. The article is missing Motorland Aragon, a great great circuit in the middle of nowhere.
      My proposal since Silverstone and street circuits are doubtful with double-triple headers and a bye week beetween them and the least travel as possible:

      1-The Austro-Hungarian Empire leg: Red Bull Ring-Hungaroring (431 km away): 5th-12th July
      2-The Central Europe leg: Hockenheim – Spa (290 km away) – Zandvoort (307 km away): 26th July- 2nd and 9th August
      3- The Italian leg: Mugello – Imola (68 km away) – Monza (269 km away): 23th-30th August- 6th September
      4-The Spanish leg: Barcelona – Motorland Aragon (260 km away): 20th-27th September

      We can agree that Sochi is a “street circuit” and cancel this race :-)

      5- The Empire of the Rising Sun leg: Suzuka – Fuji Speedway (304 km away): 11th – 18th October
      6- The American Leg: Mexico DF – COTA – Interlagos: 1st – 8th – 15th November
      7- The Sheikh Money leg: Bahrein – Yas Marina: 29th November – 6th December

      17 races in 4 continents in 5 months
      Your welcome Liberty Media

    20. I don’t really understand the love for Fuji here, I absolutely hated driving on it on Gran Turismo 4. It has one of the worst second halves of any lap that F1 has ever raced on. While the tight chicane does provide a decent enough overtaking opportunity, the corners between that and the start-finish straight are just a horrible, nauseating, understeering abomination.

      Kuwait Motor Town looks interesting with a lower downforce potential and what looks like an even longer run to the first braking zone than Sochi, although Tilke’s obsession with trying to replicate turn 8 isn’t healthy. Not a fan of the Buriram circuit, looks like a minefield for track limits abuse. A better alternative to a MotoGP circuit that F1 could try would be the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina as it’s not awash with acres of tarmac and looks more fun to drive on.

      1. @brickles the Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina is also listed as a Grade 2 circuit, meaning it doesn’t have the necessary licencing to hold an F1 race right now.

    21. Indianapolis? That’s nothing more than a contrived race track.
      I think Watkins Glen or Road America would be better venues.

    Comments are closed.