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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

F1 eyeing new races in Asia, not US, amid wild Chicago rumours

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Since US-based Liberty Media took over F1 in 2017, it has made untapping the sequence’ potential in America one in all its key priorities, including races in Miami and Las Vegas to its present grand prix in Austin.

Within the wake of F1’s recognition increase, an unlimited variety of American sponsors have flocked to the sequence, with HP the latest to leap on board with Ferrari.

Final 12 months’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, which F1 promoted itself, additionally turned out to be large industrial success, fuelling rumours that the sequence was eager on including a fourth occasion within the nation.

However Autosport understands that whereas F1 is eager to proceed its progress within the US, it’s pleased with its present unfold of races within the Americas. That additionally embrace widespread occasions in Montreal, Mexico Metropolis and Sao Paulo.

Wild rumours of a brand new race in Chicago by 2026 have been firmly shot down.

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As a substitute, the sequence is wanting on the Far East as a market that’s nonetheless underserved.

Mechanics make ultimate preparations on the grid earlier than the beginning

Photograph by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

The Malaysian Grand Prix disappeared in 2017 to depart simply Singapore, Japan and China on the calendar, whereas efforts to carry F1 to Vietnam did not come to fruition.

Thailand seems to be a contender for a brand new race in South East Asia following talks in April between prime minister Srettha Thavisin and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

The Thai authorities is eager on a road race in Bangkok to spice up tourism, with Thai-owned Purple Bull understood to be a key participant behind the scenes in making the race occur.

There have additionally been talks with the South Korean port metropolis of Incheon a couple of return of F1 to the Korean peninsula from 2026 or 2027 onwards.

What F1’s Asian push means for the present races

Whereas curiosity in new occasions stays excessive worldwide, Domenicali has harassed he isn’t increasing the schedule past the present variety of 24 races, with a most variety of 25 enshrined in industrial agreements.

“We presently consider a 24-race schedule is the optimum variety of occasions,” Domenicali instructed Wall Road analysts earlier this month.

Increasing additional in Imola to the Italian press, he added: “We’re seeing a variety of curiosity from a variety of nations in Components 1, and this clearly represents a chance for growth. On the identical time, it places us underneath an obligation to make decisions when it comes to the calendar.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez, Purple Bull Racing

Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool

“We’re seeing a rising curiosity within the Far East and the USA, but in addition a revival in Europe, likely due to Madrid, which gave a shake-up simply when everybody thought that no one on the {Old} World was excited about doing one thing new.”

It appears clear that one thing must give, then, with a number of European races out of contract after 2025, together with the Italian races at Imola and Monza in addition to the Benelux pairing of Belgium and the Netherlands.

Regardless of Max Verstappen‘s immense recognition, rotating Zandvoort and Spa continues to be believed to be an possibility from 2026 onwards, even when Spa’s investments in its amenities and fan expertise have given the latter a lift.

Monza can also be investing in its ageing infrastructure, whereas Imola – which is reportedly nonetheless hoping to get well its cancelled 2023 version in 2026 – nonetheless has a variety of catching as much as do. Domenicali acknowledged it might be a problem for each basic Italian venues to remain.

“Italy is central to the F1 calendar, however we have to deal with necessary points associated to the assets the nation intends to take a position and the infrastructure, as a result of we have to change tempo by bettering the protection of the tracks and the companies supplied to the general public,” he instructed La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“On the finish of August, at Monza, we’ll take inventory with authorities establishments and [Italian automobile federation] ACI. It’s nonetheless doable that Italy will maintain two races after 2026, however realistically I believe it is going to be fairly troublesome.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Barcelona, which nonetheless has a contract till 2026, can also be feeling the warmth from F1’s new race in Madrid that can debut the identical 12 months.

A brand new-for-2024 fan occasion within the coronary heart of the Catalan capital, together with a demo run on its historic Paseo de Gracia, will go a way in the direction of impressing F1, however individuals who have attended the race in recent times will argue Montmelo’s amenities are nonetheless caught in the direction of the rear of F1’s midfield.

The native authorities have just lately greenlit a deal for occasion organiser Fira de Barcelona, which co-hosts the annual Cellular World Congress, to take over the circuit’s operations and make it much less depending on its motor racing actions alone.

The combat to stay on the calendar just isn’t essentially one between {old} and new or between conventional racing circuits and classy road races, as has usually been portrayed.

As a substitute, underneath Liberty Media the sequence has massively raised its requirements when it comes to what it expects from a contemporary F1 venue, together with fan expertise, circuit infrastructure, lodge capability, transportation, hospitality and sustainability efforts.

Which means the “{Old} World”, as Domenicali calls it, has wanted to meet up with well-heeled occasions within the Center East and the Americas, which is simpler to do for venues that may boast beneficiant authorities subsidies.

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Photograph by: Alfa Romeo

It’s no coincidence that the well-backed Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, which can also be investing closely in a modernised paddock constructing and grandstands, has signed a contract extension till 2032 as one of many few European races to acquire long-term safety.

Domenicali was very clear that venues want to purchase into F1’s imaginative and prescient of what a grand prix ought to appear like in 2024, or danger lacking out.

“The work completed on the Hungaroring circuit confirms that Components 1’s actions are serving to to lift the bar for amenities that had remained considerably sedentary through the years,” he mentioned.

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“I say this in a really constructive manner: if there isn’t a will to take a position, work and make tasks collectively, even in the long run, there might be a danger of shedding Components 1.

“By the tip of this 12 months we can have some necessary decisions to make.”

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