Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

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

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
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.

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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.

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