New F1 owners Liberty Media have recently been talking to a lot of venues who could host a street race at some point. But is that necessarily a good thing for the sport?
It seems that every place Liberty talks to about a future race are a street race but in my opinion, F1 shouldn’t be in street races.
First off let’s talk about why Liberty want more race on the streets.
The main reason is so that races can be more accessible to fans as they don’t have to buy grandstand tickets and in places like Monaco can simply watch from their bedroom window (or yacht). And with race tickets being very expensive now, given Bernie Ecclestone’s yearly increasing deals, circuits are charging hundreds for seats and still making huge losses.
It’s for this reason why Silverstone ended its contract early this year, cause it was losing more and more money each year. £2.8 million in 2015 up to £4.8 million in 2016.
One option was for Liberty to but out the track from the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club) who actually triggered the break clause in the contract. This was quickly dismissed and soon after Liberty announced plans to host a street race in London rather than Silverstone.
The other reason was to do with liberty’s vision of making each F1 race like a festival with music acts, attractions and so on. It is hoped that people who then come just for the music and activities may then stay to watch the race which could then improve F1’s appeal and popularity.
However, while I definitely F1 should sell itself more to a larger audience. For those who already hardened F1 fans, most street races provide some of the worst experiences on the calendar.
Now before I go on I will say I don’t think we shouldn’t have any street races. The likes of Monaco and Singapore are now iconic tracks and provide some amazing races.
The issue is when the tracks aren’t designed well, For me, F1 is about the best drivers in the world driving the fastest machines in the world around the best tracks in the world, as fast as possible. And put simply most street races simply can’t provide the speed and thrill I look for.
Look at Azerbaijan, while I don’t deny it was possibly the best race of the year so far, the track itself is pretty terrible and bad to drive. It’s all 90-degree corners and huge FLAT straights. There’s no swooping fast corners or elevation change.
A street race (in most cases) is completely flat and with very few exciting corners.
Take Eau Rouge at Spa, for example, its fast, swooping, technical and a huge elevation change. And its one of if not the most famous corners in F1 as well as one of the drivers’ favourites.
You don’t get that on street tracks.
The other problem with street tracks is they restrict who fast the cars can go, with the exception of Azerbaijan, F1 cars rarely get close to top speed on the streets due to the lack of space available.
The argument that Formula E cars make exciting races on streets is true but FE cars are nowhere near as quick as F1 cars so they can get the most out of them on street circuits. Put Formula E car on a track like Spa and the races would be pretty boring as the cars would top out much earlier and take way longer to get around than an F1 car.
For that reason Formula E cars work on street circuits while F1 cars work best on purpose build circuits.
So to conclude should F1 get rid of street races altogether? No!
But in my opinion, if there is the option for purpose build track that should be the first choice and keep makeshift street tracks for a backup.
What d you think of F1’s push to introduce street tracks?
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