Formula One is expanding at a rate that even Bernie Ecclestone could only dream of. Having battled to ‘crack’ America for decades in just two years, two new races have been added to the United States roster.
The inaugural Miami Grand Prix in 2022 set F1 records for ticket sales as agents reported the weekend was sold out in just 31 minutes. Las Vegas coming this year has proven more difficult for F1, with sky high ticket prices meaning it will cost around $16,000 for two people including flights and accommodation to attend the race in Sin City.
“Goal” to build F1 calendar
With 100 days to the race down ‘the strip’ there’s plenty of ticket availability for those wishing to attend Formula One’s first ever Saturday night race.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has suggested his goal is to build a list of current Formula One venues which will be around 30 in total. Yet the teams are restraining the ex-Ferrari boss from exceeding the current maximum races a year (24) as set out in the Concorde agreement.
Liberty media’s goal is to grow their revenues and so as current circuit contracts come to an end the race promoters are being forced to pay significantly more to retain their slot on the calendar.
All F1 events with the exception of Silverstone and Suzuka rely on some form of public subsidy towards the hosting fee charged by F1, yet the incremental fees Liberty Media is charging make hosting an annual F1 event financially unviable.
Bi annual F1 events
Its expected a number of circuits where since is an issue will remain on the calendar but be forced to hold their F1 event biannually. This happened for a number of years in Germany where Hockenheim and the Nurburgring alternated each year.
Each circuit depended on funding from a different electoral region in Germany and so the demands on each of the public purses was reduced by the circuits sharing the German GP.
Domenicali claimed last year he could easily accommodate 30 different venues around the world hosting a Formula One event because the demand at present is so high.
Yet rather than create a NASCAR type schedule where there are races every weekend for months on end, Domenicali claimed he would be pursuing a different strategy.
F1 CEO reveals new circuits coming
“We need to be balanced, we need to see what are the other opportunities,” he said. “Very soon we are going to tell everyone what is our strategy to develop that market.”
Whilst the strategy has not been explicitly detailed the assumption is to include even more F1 venues, a number of circuits Weill be forced into rotating with another.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Columbia’s only full time F1 driver, has now revealed there are advanced plans for Formula One to race in his home country.
Montoya raced for Williams and McLaren between 2001-06 claiming 30 podiums and 7 Grad Prix victories. When his F1 career was over he joined the North American single seater racing series and won one of the three global motorsport blue ribband the Indianapolis 500.
Third different South American GP
An F1 race in Columbia would double the number of the sport’s venues in South America with Brazil’s Interlagos being the sole Grand Prix on the current F1 calendar.
Stefano Domenicali visited Barranquilla last year touring the city with with mayor Jaime Pumarejo, with the eventual goal to stage a race in the country.
“Barranquilla and Colombia have to believe that they can organise great events,” Pumarejo told select media, including regional Colombian newspaper El Heraldo.
“This is the largest sporting event that exists and we are looking for a way to make it viable. We will work with many entities to make it possible, as long as Formula One allows us to do so.”
Columbian F1 race ‘almost done’
The report continued explaining how the CEO of F1 was looking at various options for another street circuit race and that Columbia would not be attempting a Grade 1 FIA purpose built circuit.
Montoya now reveals the plans for a Columbian Grand Prix are on the rocks despite the hopes of the country becoming only the third in South America behind Argentina and Brazil to host an F1 event.
“About eight months ago it was 95 per cent done, but someone messed it up on something and I don’t know what,” Montoya explained to Semana TV.
“It may happen in the future. We went with the F1 people to Barranquilla and looked at the design.
“Everything was done, all that was missing was the signature and they were ready to sign.
Madrid now ready to sign F1 contract
It appears whilst this Spanish speaking country has lost out for now, Montoya accidentally revealed another is set to announce a new location for Formula One to visit.
“F1 has ended up giving the race to Madrid after their interest,” said the Indy500 champion.
Formula One registered the “Madrid Grand Prix” as a trademark just weeks ago which bizarrely is good news for the current venue in Barcelona.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991 though in recent years has been criticised for its poor logistics and ageing facilities. The circuit removed the controversial final chicane this year which appeared to improve the overtaking opportunities at a circuit where this is famously difficult.
Barcelona race under threat
Yet with thousands of people unable to get water and the public transport system in chaos, F1 warned the promoters they needed to get they act together following the F1 event in 2022.
Having registered the trademark as “Madrid” not “Spain” it could be argued it improves the opportunity for the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona to remain on the calendar. Though this would almost definitely be on a rotating basis with Madrid given the slots awarded to European promoters are now full.
The contract for the current Spanish Grand Prix expires in 2025 so Barcelona is guaranteed two more years of Formula One.
Formula One rose to. popularity in Spain following the heroics of a young Fernando Alonso who claimed back to back world titles in 2005/6. At the time he was F1’s youngest ever world champion driver and his bog personality attracted a huge following.
Carlos Sainz Madrid born favourite
Despite Carlos Sainz joining his countryman in Formula One the Spanish hearts in Barcelona have always been laid bare for Fernando. However, Sainz may improve his public perception with the future audience in Madrid given he was born and raised in the city.
The latest update from Jose Vicente de los Mozos, the president of IFEMA a Madrid based events organiser, is that the plans for a Formula One in the nations capital are advanced
“We are making progress with the contract, but I know when we are going to sign it and when we are going to announce it. It has to be the best race in Europe,’ he said.
F1 Street circuits criticised
The race will not be without its critics given the significant increase in F1 street races since Liberty Media both the commercial rights to the sport.
If Melbourne and Canada are included, the tally of street circuits on the current F1 calendar stands at eight. F1 traditionalists believe the push towards city based events is driven from a financial perspective because the city promoters will pay more as a hosting fee to benefit from the marketing their home as a tourist destination.
Yet street circuits can produce more predictable F1 racing and given the enormous size of the modern cars, overtaking becomes a serious challenge.
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— Formula 1 (@F1) August 11, 2023