The focus now seems to be on the track. How the track can be designed or changed to improve racing. At least that’s what F1’s CEO, Chase Carey, has intimated this week. The concept of the purpose-built track seems to be taking a back seat in favor of finding street circuits that will make the racing better.
Carey said that any race wanting to be on the F1 calendar has to be a destination city that “captures the imagination” and has a track that is conducive to exciting racing. He stopped short of explaining what that is, exactly, although Autosport points out that Monaco was boring, which it wasn’t.
With Miami and Vietnam rumored to be coming to F1, I had written a piece many weeks ago about this push for all the new races to be street circuits. I understand having a few but it seems that Carey and crew want F1 races to be street circuits and in what they call “destination cities”. To those ends, you have famous track designer Herman Tilke weighing in with support of Carey’s vision of turning F1 into a street circuit racing series in city centers.
“The trend is going to the city tracks and this is really good for professional sport,” Tilke added.
“The idea behind it is that it is really very unique, and every city is unique.
“If you go in the centre of a city then you cannot compare with others.
“We have real street races, we have three in the calendar at the moment – Monaco, Singapore and Baku – and all these three are so different and so unique.
“This makes it really very interesting and for the high professional series like F1, it is the right way.”
The trend? What trend? Who set the trend? Is Formula E setting a trend? Is WEC, IMSA, NASCAR all clamoring to race in city centers? Who is setting or starting this “trend”? I’m going to throw a yellow card on this one, Herman. I’m going to say this is being called a trend by the people trying to create a trend.
Herman then offered the logic and justification suggesting that old people ruin purpose-built race tracks:
“We are not building [permanent] tracks only for the high professional drivers, we are also building tracks for all kind of drivers,” Tilke said at the FIA Sport Conference in the Philippines on Tuesday.
“This means amateur drivers, it means a driver who is 60 years old and wishes to drive some kind of racing car or high-performance car. All these people have to be safe [on permanent tracks], it is not only F1.
“But as you see in Baku – that is a track built only for professional drivers.
“You could never have old drivers or young drivers on this track, and that makes a difference.
“The investor of a [permanent] track wants to use a track for everybody – not only F1.”
Seriously? So Spa, Monza, Silverstone, Suzuka all suck because old guys want to be safe while puttering around there? I’m going to have to throw a red card on this one Herman. Let me just say that the “trend” toward city streets is because the F1 business model isn’t working for purpose-built track owners and race promoters and track economics matter. If F1 could find a way to make these races profitable for the track owners and promoters, then track changes and improvements might be more realistic. How many Baku, Singapore, Russia, Monaco or other street circuits does F1 need/want?
Carey said that current tracks must make changes to meet the new standards for passing and exciting racing. I find this a very difficult argument to make given the lack of profitability the tracks and promoters have with F1 races and again, I would argue that it would be easier and less expensive to change the cars rather than the tracks. But that’s just me.
Hat Tip: Autosport