The Alternative F1 Calendar
Australian GP – Albert Park, Melbourne
Malaysian GP – Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur
Chinese GP – Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai
Spanish GP - Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
Monaco GP – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo
San Marino GP – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola
Turkish GP – Istanbul Park, Istanbul
Canadian GP – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal
US GP- Long Beach, California
British GP – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone
Austrian GP – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg
German GP – Nürburgring, Nürburg/Hockenheimring, Hockenheim (alternating)
French GP – Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, Magny-Cours
Dutch GP – Circuit Park Zandvoort, Zandvoort
Belgian GP – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa
Italian GP – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza
Singapore GP – Marina Bay Street Circuit, Marina Bay
Japanese – Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka
India – Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Brazil – Autódromo José Carlos Pace (Interlagos), São Paulo
Where better to start the season than at Albert Park for the Australian GP! The race has cemented itself as a fan favourite, despite the early starts for European viewers! The race has been held in Melbourne since 1996 and has featured as the season opener for all bar two years since. In 2006 it was pushed to third on the calendar due to the Commonwealth Games, while in 2010 Bahrain was given the season opener. The early morning wake up for the live action only adds to the excitement and anticipation of a new season, while the action always proves to be full of drama - an ideal location to get things under way.
Moving on to round two and remaining with the current calendar for the Malaysian GP. This race has been on the calendar since 1999 and offers up mixed results. The race has recently been moved to a later start time, which can cause problems when the monsoons appear. Bernie Ecclestone moved the race to make it more European friendly, but we don’t mind getting up slightly earlier – do we?
It’s time for round three and it’s another familiar feature – the Chinese GP at the Shanghai International Circuit. This race has been on the calendar since 2004 and with its long straights and twisty corners, it is another which throws up unexpected results. Just a couple of weeks ago, Nico Rosberg took his first F1 victory with tyre degradation playing a key role in other drivers’ races. It was voted second best addition to the F1 calendar in the past ten years.
With two Spanish drivers currently on the grid, one of which is a two times world champion, it would be unfair not to have a Spanish GP on the calendar. The Circuit de Catalunya has been on the calendar for many many many years and is also the location for pre-season testing. With a choice between there and Valencia for the location of the Spanish GP, well it doesn’t take much to decide.
Round five features the usual glitz and glamour we are accustomed to with the annual May visit to Monte Carlo for the Monaco GP. The original tight and twisty street circuit, Monaco has been a staple on the F1 calendar for over 50 years! There are a few grandstands but a lot of people watch from their luxury yachts, from balconies of expensive hotels, and hanging off trees. The Monaco GP was voted the second most popular race which would be missed if removed from the calendar.
This is where the first diversion from the 2012 calendar comes, with round six being held at Imola for the San Marino GP. The Imola circuit is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits used in F1. Respondents to my survey voted Imola as the circuit not currently on the F1 calendar that they miss most and so it has been brought back.
Round seven features another returnee with the Turkish GP. It was voted the second best addition to the F1 calendar in the past ten years and joint second most missed off the current F1 calendar so was a natural choice for round seven. Just mention Turn 8 to any F1 fan, and they know what you’re talking about. Another anti-clockwise circuit, Istanbul Park proved popular amongst drivers (especially Felipe Massa who won it the most) and fans but was unfortunately removed from the calendar for the 2012 season.
For round eight of the championship we head across the sea to Canada for the Canadian GP. It was mentioned as a race which would be most missed if dropped from the calendar and also featured in a number of people’s top three circuits so is a must for the alternative calendar. It always provides unpredictable races and of course includes the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’. It was missing from the calendar in 2009 and was sorely missed but was restored in 2010 and has been there since!
Moving on to the US GP for round nine. America has returned to the 2012 calendar with a new race track in Austin, however, Long Beach was mentioned more than any other American circuit in the responses I received. Long Beach hosted eight F1 races in the late 70s early 80s however is now more well known as an Indycar circuit now.
Round ten on the alternative calendar will be held at Silverstone for the British GP. This was mentioned as a race which would be missed most if removed from the calendar and also ranked in a few people’s top three circuits. It hosted the first ever Formula One world championship event in 1950 and has been on the calendar permanently since 1987. The British GP was going to be moved to Donington (also mentioned as a most missed circuit), however Silverstone signed a new 17 year deal in 2009.