Here is some math for all of you: New Jersey + Russia + Austria = a lot of money. On both sides of the party (ie: Bernie and the hosts), the prospect of additional races on the Formula One calendar is good for business. Bernie gets his precious merchandise profit as well as a plethora of hosting fees, while the hosts get massive boosts is tourism and hotel profits, not to mention an overall boost in their global perception. Seems like a no-brainier. Only if you don’t think about it, though.
I talked about this a few months ago when I took a look at the unsung heroes of the sport, the mechanics, and touched upon the danger of an ever-growing race calendar. To put the situation into a relatable context, over-stuffing the calendar is like swapping the rear tires of a Formula One car. And we all know how that ended.
With today’s news that the Red Bull Ring in Austria would be making a return to the 2014 Formula one calendar, we got a glimpse into what next season would be like. Crowded.
The most popular topic of conversation in the final stretch of races at the end of last season was the fact that there were three back-to-backs in a span of just 9 weeks. This puts an enormous strain on all involved in the sport when said strain is the hardest to cope with. With the three new races, three key points in the season will now have an extra race to handle.
New Jersey will slot in right after the Canadian Grand Prix, thus pushing the Beitish Grand Prix back one extra week to allow the normal two week break between races. The Russian Grand Prix is planned, speculatively, an rather vaguely, for the second half of the season. Rumors say perhaps just before Singapore, or in November around the race in Abu Dhabi. Regardless, this puts it in the thick of those back-to -back races that take so much criticism every season.
Finally, the July 6th preliminary date for the Austrian Grand Prix slots it in between Germany and Hungary. There were plans last winter to bring Austria to the calendar this season, but when they failed to materialize, plans fixated onto 2014. The three week gap we are currently waiting through was the time slot allotted for the proposed 2013 Austrian Grand Prix, so we know that there is time for the race. Will there be enough energy, though?
I am a huge proponent of increasing the number of European races on the calendar, but I am extremely wary of pushing the calendar beyond its limits. I can be sure that Bernie Ecclestone and I do not share the same concerns, but then again, I don’t have a business to run.
I thoroughly hope a solution can be made to make the three newcomers welcome on the calendar. If that means getting rid of some races like Korea and India, so be it. I would rather the sport’s European spirit be preserved for the tenure of its existence than for Bernie to line his pockets at the expense of our entertainment, and the hosts’ success.