A Future Formula 1 Calendar?
Are we on the brink of a calendar shakeup? 21 races, 6 continents, more organised Esports – this is my take on a future ‘F1 Circus’ calendar.
We’ve become used to a ‘normal’ look to the Formula 1 calendar in recent years – season opener in Melbourne followed by a few Asian and Middle Eastern races; Spain and Monaco to open the ‘European Season’; Hungary and Belgium sandwiching the Summer Break; a stint of Asian and American races before finishing the year in Abu Dhabi.
While the template for a modern F1 calendar isn’t inherently bad, there are some factors that the majority of F1 fans will think are slightly bizarre and not good for the sport. Abu Dhabi as a season finale, while providing a visual spectacle, often lacks good racing; jumping to Canada in the middle of the European Season, sometimes even as part of a back-to-back event, is a logistical nightmare; and certain circuits like Yas Marina and the Sochi Autodrom are frankly a joke to have when so many other magnificent facilities exist elsewhere.
Then in 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we got to see a shakeup in the F1 calendar. Fan favourite venues returned, new circuits made their debuts, and existing races got shuffled around in the season. More recently, there have been talks of the Australian Grand Prix, currently penciled in for November 21st instead of it’s usual March slot, could see a permanent swap with the dates of the MotoGP Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island, set to take place this year on October 24th.
Now we’ve seen that a calendar shakeup could work, and already seeing talks of existing Grands Prix moving dates and new events such as South Africa joining, are we on the brink of a major calendar change in the world of Formula 1? And if so, what would it look like?
For my take on a new look calendar, I have decided to use the 2022 annual calendar for dates of events, and have created an ‘F1 Circus’ calendar including Formula 2, Formula 3 and W Series support races, and a set F1 Esports calendar.
At the start of the year, there will be two F1 Esports series taking place. First, from January 1st to January 22nd, the F1 Esports Winter Invitational. An ‘Invitational’ F1 Esports series will follow a similar style to the Virtual GPs of 2020 and 2021, whereby it is open to F1 drivers, youtubers and celebrities. The inclusion of celebrities would hopefully entice new fans to the sport in time for the car launches of the new season, and the series would be finished in time for F1 drivers to return to work for last minute training, preparation for the car launches and preseason testing.
F1 Esports Pro Series event in 2018 at the Gfinity Arena // Image credit: Codemasters
One week after the conclusion of the Winter Invitational, the official F1 Esports Winter Series will take place from the 29th January to 20th February. Also at 4 weeks in length, this series would act as a training series for official F1 Esports teams and drivers. During this time, the Preseason Tests for both Formula 2 and Formula 3 would take place. The F2 test would be at the Hockenheimring in Germany on 7-8th February, while the F3 test would be at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on 14-15th February. A week later, the Formula 1 Preseason Test would take place, returning to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, over 4 days from 22-25th February. Crucially, all Preseason Tests take place at venues not on the championships’ respective calendars.
Bahrain is host to the opening round of the season, with the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix taking place on 11-13th March. Unlike in 2021 where there is a three week break between the opening two races of the season, this calendar sees the season open with a Middle Eastern triple header, the only triple header of the season. This is to maximize the hype of a new season for both existing fans and new fans. Azerbaijan will play host to Round 2, being renamed in Azerbaijani - Azərbaycan Qran Prisi. Likewise, the third race of the year will be at Turkey, renamed to Türkiye Grand Prix'si. Between Bahrain and Azerbaijan, the W Series Preseason Test will take place at the Anglesey Circuit in Wales, on 14-15th March. Formula 2 will be present at both Bahrain and Azerbaijan to start their season, while Formula 3’s opener will be at Turkey.
The 2021 season is the third time Bahrain has hosted the season opener // Image credit: Motorsport Magazine
An uninterrupted European Season will then see the F1 circus through to the Summer Break. Portugal’s Algarve International Circuit opens the stint as Round 4 on 8-10th April, with Germany taking place two weeks later, which will return to alternating venues with Hockenheimring and Nürburgring. Both Formula 3 and W Series will be present at each event, with W Series’ season starting at the Algarve.
The Grosser Preis von Österreich acts as a back-to-back with Germany, hosting both F1, F2 and W Series on 29th April-1st May, before a race in France two weeks later acting as the first F1-only event. The French event will see F1 make an anticipated debut at Le Mans due to the Circuit de la Sarthe underdoing safety changes to be awarded FIA Grade 1 status, with the layout remaining unchanged. With the move to Le Mans, the event name also changes to ‘Grand Prix de France du Mans’, translating to the French Grand Prix of Le Mans.
Circuit de la Sarthe, home to the 24 Hours of Le Mans // Image credit: WEC
A week after Le Mans, the Grand Prix de Monaco takes place on 20-22nd May, with Formula 2 and W Series on the support race package. Italy moves to Round 9 on 3-5th June, with the Monza race being renamed Gran Premio d'Italia della Ferrari (Italian Grand Prix of Ferrari), to honour Ferrari and the loyal Tifosi that flood the venue. Note: Ferrari is not a sponsor of the event, it is named in the company’s honour. Both F3 and W Series will be racing alongside F1 at Monza.
To round out the European Season, the Belgian Grand Prix, renamed to Grand Prix de Belgique, takes place on 17-19th June, and the British Grand Prix a week later on 24-26th June at Silverstone. F2 will be supporting the Spa race, while both F2 and W Series will race at Silverstone. Following the race, a Young Driver Test will take place at Silverstone on 27-28th June, for drivers who have no more than two Grand Prix starts to their name.
The Summer Break then takes place from the end of June to the end of July, during which the F1 Esports Summer Invitational takes place from 2-24th July, following the same format at the Winter Invitational.
A back-to-back in North America opens the second half of the season, with the Grand Prix du Canada taking place on 29-31st July, and the Grand Prix of the Americas taking place on 5-7th August. Formula 3 will make its debut at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, while Formula 2 and W Series will race in the USA. The venue of the USA race will alternate between the Circuit of the Americas and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in a similar fashion to the Grosser Preis von Deutschland. For the COTA races, the event will be called the Grand Prix of the Americas to mimic the circuit’s name, while the IMS race will be known as the US Grand Prix.
A 4-race Asian leg will then follow, starting in Japan on 26-28th August. Like America and Germany, the Japanese Grand Prix will alternate between Suzuka and Fuji Speedway, and Formula 3 will makes its debut in Japan at the same time.
The Sepang International Circuit, home to the often wet Malaysian Grand Prix // Image credit: EPA
The Singapore and Malaysian Grands Prix follows as a back-to-back, with Singapore taking place on9-11th September and Malaysia on 16-18th September. The Marina Bay Street Circuit and the Sepang International circuit will play host to the W Series and Formula 3 finales respectively, while the latter returns to Formula 1 for the first time since 2017. A return to India follows, with the Buddh International Circuit race taking place on 30th September-2nd October with no support action from F2, F3 or W Series.
During the same weekend, the FIA Formula 1 Esports World Championship begins, taking place between the 1st October-17th December. It will run alongside the rest of the actual F1 season, finishing just after the season finale so that the focus is on the F1 Esports finale.
The Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne then takes place on 14-16th October, before a 3-week break due to the logistics of travelling from Australia to Mexico, host of Round 19. The Gran Premio de México name returns, instead of the Gran Premio de la Ciudad de México name used for the 2021 event, and Formula 2 will make its debut at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez venue. Likewise, the Brazilian Grand Prix returns to being known as the Grande Prêmio do Brasil rather than Grande Prêmio de São Paulo, taking place on 18-20th November.
The first corner at the 2019 Kyalami 9hrs // Image credit: Snap Lap
Another 3-week break follows for logistical reasons, before the return of the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami on 9-11th December. With the official Afrikaans name of Grand Prix van Suid-Afrika, Kyalami will see a return to Africa for F1 for the first time since 1993, and the first time Abu Dhabi hasn’t hosted the F1 finale since 2013. Formula 2 will also have its season finale at South Africa, with a Postseason Test taking place on 12-13th December.
And then its Christmas! 21 F1 races, 9 F2 races, 7 F3 races and 8 W Series races. To save on costs, the majority of support races take place in Europe and the Middle East, with a few flyaway races each for championship in the Americas, Asia and Africa.
Some key changes are the lack of Spanish, Hungarian, Dutch, Russian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix; a return to South Africa, Malaysia, India, Turkey and Portugal, with Indianapolis and Fuji making returns in America and Japan; and a debut for F1 at the Circuit de la Sarthe. I have tried to make the calendar as logistically easy as possible, to ease the strain on team members and to reduce the carbon footprint by eliminating unnecessary journeys.
A full overview of the calendar can be seen below:
I hope you like my take on a future F1 circus calendar, thank you for reading, and feel free to let me know your opinions in the comments!