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Are fears over F1’s road race surge justified?

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“Not one other road circuit,” was the dominant line of response on social media within the wake of F1’s announcement that the Spanish GP would move away from its long-time home in Barcelona.

With Barcelona’s future in limbo, from 2026 onwards the event will head to a new semi-street circuit in Madrid, situated on the IFEMA fairgrounds near its Barajas airport, a lot nearer to the town centre than its Catalan counterpart.

The twisty observe map, which options some purpose-built sections embody a high-speed banked nook in addition to a extra typical stop-start road lay-out, did little to additional encourage confidence amongst a rising variety of disgruntled followers that really feel F1 is beginning to transfer away an excessive amount of from their beloved conventional, everlasting venues to much less evocative metropolis loops.

Lately a number of road circuits have joined the calendar, together with the likes of Baku, Jeddah and Las Vegas. Then there are city or parkland circuits. Not technically road circuits, however situated in such dense metropolitan areas that observe designers are constrained by the cramped environment.

Miami is one, and Madrid will likely be too.

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You possibly can argue about some, however taking a look at this 12 months’s calendar, seven out of 24 venues might be categorized as some type of road circuit: Jeddah, Melbourne, Miami, Monaco, Baku, Singapore and Las Vegas.

All of them slot in Liberty Media’s technique of heading to vibrant ‘vacation spot’ cities, making it simpler for followers to entry the venues utilizing public transport and present infrastructure, whereas additionally giving groups and sponsors extra engaging hospitality choices.

Picture by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

With 17 everlasting venues remaining, it looks as if fan pushback towards road circuits is a bit of overblown at this stage, though it may be seen as a barometer of the place long-time aficionados really feel the steadiness needs to be.

Avenue circuits and their widespread barrage of tight 90-degree corners do not communicate to the creativeness of both followers or drivers to the identical diploma as Eau Rouge, Stowe or 130R, they usually additionally do not convey out the most effective of this period’s vastly spectacular equipment.

PLUS: Can F1’s Madrid street race avoid the fate of Valencia’s white elephant?

The fanfare round F1’s in the end profitable Las Vegas debut hasn’t swayed the purists, and sure by no means will, and Liberty Media’s outspoken need to place up 24 Tremendous Bowl-esque occasions has in all probability added to the sense of alarm that the Monzas, Spas and Suzukas of the world should ultimately make approach for the likes of Milan, Brussels or Osaka, the latter emerging as a keen candidate to host a race in the future.

However that does not fairly seem like the case.

Autosport understands that F1 is keenly conscious of the necessity to protect its delicate steadiness between everlasting venues and road circuits – and between custom and commerce – reasonably than having the 2 forms of races compete with one another.

And whereas the time period ‘vacation spot metropolis’ evokes photographs of racing downtown by main metropoles, that does not imply that each new venue must be simply that, so long as fan entry and amenities are introduced as much as customary.

A working example is Zandvoort, which is a long way away from central Amsterdam however boasts glorious public transport hyperlinks. Zandvoort’s southern neighbour Spa-Francorchamps has stepped up its sport massively in recent times after falling behind the occasions, now providing a lot better fan amenities and leisure packages whilst its transportation choices are nonetheless inherently restricted.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, 1st position, waves from his cockpit as fans turn the air orange in celebration of victory

Picture by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Pink Bull Racing RB18, 1st place, waves from his cockpit as followers flip the air orange in celebration of victory

Monza is subsequent in line to purchase into Liberty’s philosophy of revamping the historic venue’s lengthy insufficient infrastructure in an effort to safeguard its place on the calendar, whereas additionally bolstering its sustainability efforts towards the backdrop of F1’s Neto Zero 2030 targets.

F1 appears keen to work with promoters of those conventional, fan favorite venues to purchase into its imaginative and prescient of what a twenty first century grand prix ought to appear to be, which may encourage some confidence that it is not simply set to desert them altogether.

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