Dissecting the 2010 Formula 1 calendar
20 December, 2009
Report by Daniel Chalmers
Last week the FIA confirmed the final calendar for the 2010 championship – view calendar here. There a few interesting points that can be taken from the 2010 calendar.
Firstly 2010 will be an even longer season with 19 races (17 last season). 2010 will be around a month longer too with a mid-March start and mid November finish instead of the late March and early November end in 2009.
The Canadian GP is back on the calendar after being absent in 2009. This is great news as we have seen some great races on the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. The track is also extremely popular with the drivers. The event is always very well attended with full to bursting grandstands with very knowledgeable fans. More importantly for a sport that calls itself a world championship it’s important to have a race in North America. However F1 really could do with having a race back in the USA too.
It’s also a relief to see the British GP’s future secured. It’s really important that we keep a healthy balance of modern tracks and traditional circuits on the calendar.
The modern tracks (all designed by Hermann Tilke) are starting to take over a bit. The other problem is that many of them lack imagination and are too similar, featuring mainly long straights and slow to mid-speed corners. We need to see a bigger variety of circuits on the calendar. There is now a lack of circuits dominated by high speed corners. Spa, Suzuka and Silverstone are really the only three tracks that feature fast corners heavily.
Also we can’t afford to lose countries where there is great motorsport heritage and a huge following. It has been rumoured that Jean Todt played an influential role in keeping the British GP on the calendar. One hopes that he can also help to get the French GP back in F1 as well.
The first Korean GP will be taking place on the 24th October in the final set of flyaway races All the indications so far point towards the circuit being ready months in advance of the inaugural race.
Another thing that stands out is the fact that FIA haven’t fully taken into account the FIFA World Cup which takes place in June/July
The Canadian, European and British GPs all take place during the World Cup. The British GP actually takes place on the day of the final. The World Cup is one of the most watched sporting events on the planet, so all three of these races could well be overshadowed.
The Canadian GP is due to start at an earlier local time but this alone may not be enough. Even if the races don’t clash directly with a match Formula 1 will lose column inches in the newspapers, slots on TV sports reports, and won’t be the main talking point at the dinner table.
In August there is the traditional summer break. The FIA could have been wiser and moved the summer break to the time of the World Cup to avoid this clash.
Bahrain will host the opening round of the season. Bahrain hosted the first race once back in 2006, but Australia took the first round back in 2007.
Many F1 fans love having Australia as the first race. For European fans it normally means having to get up early in the morning which many see as a tradition. However having a race at this time of day doesn’t attract the casual fans so live audience figures suffer as a result.
It’s important that F1 attracts a strong audience for the first race. Therefore Bahrain works better for this reason. The 2006 race attracted one of the strongest TV audiences for a season opener.
Brazil was due to end the season but Abu Dhabi organisers have managed to “win the honour” of hosting the final race again. This is certainly a great feat.
If the championship goes down to the final race then all the spotlight is on Abu Dhabi so it gives the city fantastic exposure, which was part of the reason of having a race in the first place. It also means that the F1 circus may hang around for bit longer after the race weekend finishes, which could potentially mean more profit for the local area.
Although from an on-track perspective it would have been better to see Brazil hosting the final race. It’s a great traditional race track which always produces great racing. We saw great finales there in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Also for European viewers the Brazilian GP takes places in the evening which ensures huge prime time audiences for Bernie.
The European GP in Valencia and the Spanish GP have been brought closer together. This means that they could be competing with each other for ticket sales. Both sets of organisers will be keeping their fingers and toes crossed that Fernando Alonso gets given a very competitive Ferrari to boost ticket sales. If Alonso is in a winning car then both events could sell very strongly. If Ferrari produce another poor car then there will be a lack of interest.
Another event that has struggled with tickets sales is the Turkish event. For this reason, the race would have been better if it had been placed somewhere in August during a time when there are thousands of tourists visiting Istanbul who could potentially attend the F1 event during their visit.
The 2010 calendar does have some drawbacks to it which need to be considered in future, but overall it sets the scene for what should be another great Formula 1 season.