The return of classic venues in Austria and Mexico is positive news for a sport that is in danger of losing Silverstone and Monza from its annual calendar
Bar a few exceptions such as Austin and Singapore, newer F1 venues have largely been unpopular with the fans, drawing criticism from several quarters. While newer race tracks pay far more in licensing fee than classic venues, they lack a motorsport culture, resulting in a subdued atmosphere.
The situation is worsened by the loss of races with historic significance, and the ever-increasing threat of even more classic races dropping out of the calendar. France hasn’t hosted a grand prix since 2008, San Marino was last featured on the calendar in 2006, while neither Nurburgring nor Hockenheim had the necessary funding in place to host the German Grand Prix this year. The future of the Italian Grand Prix at
Monza hangs in the balance, while Silverstone’s long term F1 deal is also under scrutiny.
At such a time, the return of grands prix in Austria and Mexico has brought a breath of fresh air. The former has received a highly positive response from the F1 fraternity, while promoters of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez are expecting packed grandstands this weekend.
Changes to the track
The dated facilities of the Mexican Grand Prix circuit have been upgraded as part of the revamp, while certain changes have also been made to the track layout. The new stadium section - although not as enjoyable for the drivers - will bring fans closer to the action. Considering the stands are placed far from the ‘white lines’ to make way for larger run-off areas, this is a step in the right direction.
That said, efforts should be made to ensure the essence of these classic tracks remain the same, while making them safe for today's standards.
More classic venues in the future?
Argentina has been touted to host a grand prix again, signalling the beginning of a return of historic tracks on the F1 map. Perhaps, in the coming years, F1 would be able to come up with a satisfactory calendar, with just the right mixture of new and old tracks.
However, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone must find a way to make hosting grands prix profitable for the race promoters. For Mexico and Austria would have never returned to the calendar without significant backing from the government and/or business magnates. High race hosting fees have also meant a loss of Istanbul Park - a highly acclaimed circuit, the organisers of which could have marketed the race better, if they had enough cash to spare.
Until then, F1 can revel two great circuits in as many continents of the world.