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Next race: Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona

Five things to look forward to in 2013 (Part 1) - A season of knowns // A look ahead at the F1 calendar for the coming year

Published by Christine Blachford

Pocket F1 Handbook

This week, I launched my latest book, the Pocket F1 Handbook : Guide to the 2013 Grand Prix Season which features all you need to know about drivers, teams and tracks for the coming year. There's also a top ten list of things to look forward to over the coming months, and in anticipation of the first race next month, we're going to look at five of the items - expanding on the topic and counting down the weeks until the Australian Grand Prix. Today, the first of five, it's all about the 2013 F1 calendar.

Like many things about this 2013 Formula One season, the calendar has only just been completed. Bernie Ecclestone's hopes for an extra European race have come to nothing, so that we are back to the 19 race calendar the FIA gave us late last year. The 21st July had been reserved for this surprise race, but recent reports showed that Bernie had to let the idea go, despite rumours of talks with Austria and Turkey for a comeback.

The reason for the extra race was the postponement of the brand new New Jersey event, where organisers pushed back their deadline by a year in order to get their finances sorted. That means that for the first time since 2007, Formula One has a schedule full of existing venues - there isn't a brand new stop on the calendar this year. We've had six brand new venues take up hosting duties over the past five years, but once again, we are now treading paths around the globe that have already been trodden.

New tracks 2008-2012
SeasonVenueEvent
2012Circuit of the AmericasUS Grand Prix
2011Buddh International CircuitIndian Grand Prix
2010Korea International CircuitKorean Grand Prix
2009Yas Marina CircuitAbu Dhabi Grand Prix
2008Marina Bay Street CircuitSingapore Grand Prix
Valencia Street CircuitEuropean Grand Prix

It can be great fun to anticipate new races, to watch the tracks come into being, to find out what the new facilities are like, the new scenery, and how the drivers like (or don't like) the new twists and turns. It can be a boost to a season to have an unknown somewhere along the way, a race that levels the playing field, that no one can have a significant advantage at. It must be a great relief for rookie drivers to turn up to a weekend and know, finally, they aren't the only ones setting tyre on the circuit for the first time in their careers.

Sidepodcast image
Credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

However, I also think it will be nice this year to have a break from the endless new tracks. Being able to compare from one year to the next is quite a big part of building up to and enjoying a race weekend. Even though each Formula One season tells its own story, looking back at what has gone before is always going to play a significant role in predicting, analysing and ultimately getting the most out of a season.

Of course, you can go too far in the other direction, and it is no secret why many find the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona a dreary prospect. There are no surprises at the tired Circuit de Catalunya, overused in testing and in the calendar to the point where drivers know it too well and engineers have too much data. Some may be happy to claim it's still a challenge, but you can tell the track isn't a top spot on the season's agenda.

The Circuit de Catalunya is a bit like an old glove in that it is a track that we know so well and feel very comfortable with.

- John Booth, Team Principal, Marussia

There is definitely a happy medium to be struck in the balance between new and old, fresh and familiar.

I, for one, am happy for a break from the new tracks. There haven't been many stellar additions to the calendar in a while, last year's Circuit of the Americas proving to be the exception. Perhaps it's a good time to sit back and take stock of what we already have. I find it tricky enough to remember the intricacies of the circuits we know and love, let alone trying to learn the twists and turns of a brand new track each year.

It's also good news that Hermann Tilke hasn't managed to get his hands on another track, and with the loss of Valencia this year, we have far fewer indistinguishable corners to memorise.

When the New Jersey race finally hits, I'll be the first to tune in to Free Practice out of curiosity to see the new track, but until then, I'm looking forward to the familiar for a full season.

All content in the series Five things to look forward to in 2013




  • While Fuji wasn't a real 'new addition' in 2007, the change of circuit for Japan was quite nice, and the environment was always likely to produce rain

  • That photo of JB is incredible!

    I had been wondering what was up with the 20th race. I guess this answers my question. I'm probably one of the few that would have liked to have seen another European races. Especially if it were in Austria as that would be a new track for me.

  • I agree, it is quite nice to have a year off from having a new track. Let's just let everything bed in for a year. That said, I wouldn't argue if a couple of tracks were replaced, rather than somewhere new coming in as an addition.

    That photo of JB is incredible!

    Fantastic.

  • That photo of JB is incredible!

    I'm just looking for the sign that says "1:3 Gradient. Keep in low gear"

  • I had no idea Jenson Button was in Inception :)

    Already super excited for the new season. The next few weeks can't go quick enough.

  • I had no idea Jenson Button was in Inception :)

    heh!

  • That photo of JB is incredible!

    Brilliant, yes. Can't wait for this month to get over ASAP.

  • I must admit that Hermann Tilke never inspired me to think, yes bring it on..... that is until the brought in DRS. Since DRSD it seems otherwise boring Hermann Tilke tracks have become brilliant Hermann Tilke tracks. Was Hermann pushing for the DRS regulations I wonder?

  • I must admit that Hermann Tilke never inspired me to think, yes bring it on..... that is until the brought in DRS. Since DRSD it seems otherwise boring Hermann Tilke tracks have become brilliant Hermann Tilke tracks. Was Hermann pushing for the DRS regulations I wonder?

    cause and effect, no? his tracks were boring so the rules were changed to mitigate his design failings. you're right though, korea aside, last year's tilke circuits provided some decent racing.

  • I must admit that Hermann Tilke never inspired me to think, yes bring it on..... that is until the brought in DRS. Since DRSD it seems otherwise boring Hermann Tilke tracks have become brilliant Hermann Tilke tracks. Was Hermann pushing for the DRS regulations I wonder?

    It is the perfecet example of what is wrong with the way F1 is run. Tilke made one track that had two many corners, that was badly designed and didn't not allow for overtaking. Any other organisation would have told him to make the next one better or else. They should also have encouraged other candidates bid to build tracks.

    Instead they let him build a dozen tracks all with the same problems. Still they he is allowed to carry on making the same mistakes and making a bundle doing it. Then some genius decided the answer was not to fix the tracks and not to stop him making more with the same problems but to change the cars. Driver controlled moveable aerodynamics went from being banned to being more or less compulsory.

    That is how F1 got into the position it is with so many things. No grand plan. No overall vision. Just stupid response to even stupider problems. Despite that people will always object to any change regardless how sensible it is because it will change F1 and F1 will not be F1 any more.

  • Then some genius decided the answer was not to fix the tracks and not to stop him making more with the same problems but to change the cars. Driver controlled moveable aerodynamics went from being banned to being more or less compulsory.

    hate to point out the flaw in this argument, but plenty of non-tilke tracks were rubbish before DRS was introduced. i'm not sure herman laid a finger on the hungaroring, but it's still a crap place to hold a grand prix.

    DRS was introduced because f1 was unwatchable once refuelling was banned. 2010 was such a bad year, we gave up on the sport. if movable wings hadn't been introduced the following year i'm not convinced we'd still be watching.

  • That photo of JB is incredible!

    Even more so in person.

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