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Changing face of F1

March 15, 2012

So it looks like yet another of Europe’s F1 Grand Prix is about to bite the proverbial dust and fall foul to the financial inviability of Bernie’s hosting demands.
The announcement of the agreement in principal between Valencia and Barcelona which will see them alternate as host cities for Spain’s only Grand Prix as of 2013, is a potentially significant example of current trends and fiscal limitations. As with Germany, Italy, Austria and France before them, Spain is finding F1 fast becoming a tradition in which the numbers simply no longer stack up.
When I first started out in F1 in 1999, only 5 races were held outside Europe. This year there’ll be 12 and with Spain losing one next year, and Bernie’s determination to maintain his 20 race plan, you can almost guarantee that another is just around the corner, probably Argentina. The global shift in wealth has not passed Mr Ecclestone’s eyes unnoticed and he will, quite understandably, take his Formula One circus to whichever town is willing to pay the enormous costs and put on a fitting reception for teams, guests and fans alike.
In the week leading up to this year’s season opener in Melbourne, Australian politicians in the state of Victoria have openly criticized the justification of spending $50m on fees to host the race year in, year out.
As I’m sure will be the case in many grand prix cities in current times, it must be becoming very difficult to convince voters, politicians and money men that these enormous sums of money will reap more rewards or be more beneficial to the country than spending it on any of the growing list of desperate and well publicized causes.
With Europe falling rapidly into a deep financial black hole, is the F1 calendar heading towards a championship which visits the continent, rather than one that’s based here? How long will it be before European races are run at night to accommodate television audiences further afield, rather than the other way round? And is it possible that F1 teams themselves may eventually relocate to middle eastern bases?
Williams already has a facility in Qatar, McLaren is substantially part owned by the Bahrain Monarchy and most teams have major financial input from the middle and far east. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been pumped into motorsport in these parts over the past five or six years at the same time as funding is continually being cut and harder to come by in the West.
As a former race mechanic at McLaren, I grew up with the classic grand prix at places like Imola, and Magny Cours, as well as the rest of them currently either clinging onto, or trapped in long term contracts with, Formula One.
Unfortunately, I suspect there’s an ever increasing likelihood now that historic importance will become submerged beneath financial clout when it comes to allocating race venues and I wonder how long it might be before the remaining true classics are lost to the changing face of F1?

Marc Priestley
Twitter – @f1elvis


From → Formula One

  1. Alan Stronghill permalink

    Hi Mark
    Its Alan, Peter Chalks friend, I wondered if you would like to call me regarding expanding your potential watchers/ readers of your blogs and website????????

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