There have been rumblings about a 25-race season for a while now. The F1 constructors are against the idea, while Liberty Media is actively pushing for it. The teams worry about driver and personnel burnout with the resources being stretched too thin. Their concerns are understandable as this cuts short both the technology development time between seasons as well as their time away from their families. F1 is already a relentless travelling spectacle in destinations across the world with 21 races. To add four more will make it harder for sure.
However, that is the direction F1 is headed for and that brings forth for a chance to set a calendar of races around the world that provides the best racing action.
F1 should be careful to not go to countries with dictatorial control, human rights abuse and public protests. They'd be very tentative to go back to Turkey, despite having one of the best tracks at Istanbul Park. Chasing the petrodollars and petroroubles can have troubling PR implications. Lessons must also be learnt from South Korea, which had a great track but was built far away from the city, resulting in thin crowds. India had a drivers' favourite track but fell through because of tax issues and looks very unlikely to return. Malaysia, while being a very good track, folded too in 2017, owing to dwindling local interest.
While Liberty Media is being a tough negotiator by declaring that no venue is sacrosanct owing to its heritage and history, the fact that those races are vintage because of the racing spectacle they put up.
Spa (Belgium), Circuit of the Americas (USA), Interlagos ( Brazil), Autodromos Hermanos Rodrigues (Mexico), Marina Bay (Singapore), Suzuka (Japan), Monza (Italy), Silverstone (UK), Gilles Villenueve (Canada) will give very good races with great regularity and with sporting tradition to boot. Brazil has to be the season finale for the consistently unpredictable conditions it offers.
In compiling the ideal list of 25, I as a fan, have chosen some tracks that were a part of F1 once and should return, viz Dutch and Argentine GP. I have also considered change of venues like Nürburgring instead of Hockenheim in Germany and newer races like in Vietnam and Finland, along with the core European season that includes the classics.
The following is the roll-call.
1. Australia | Philip Island Road Circuit | Victoria
2. China | Shanghai International Circuit | Shanghai
3. Abu Dhabi | Yas Marina Circuit | Abu Dhabi
4. Azerbaijan | Baku Street Circuit | Baku
5. South Africa | Kyalami Circuit | Johannesburg
6. Canada | Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve | Toronto
The season begins in Australia's beautiful coast-side Philip Island Road Circuit instead of Albert Park. The first Asian leg begins with China, Abu Dhabi and Baku. For all the criticism that Abu Dhabi gets, we've to accept that it is not going anywhere, but at least it should be swapped with the Bahrain GP as they are more or less the same race. The race could then head to South Africa to Johannesburg for a long due return to Kyalami and then to the Canada, the last race before the European leg.
7. Monaco | Circuit de Monaco | France
8. Spain | Circuit de Catalunya | Barcelona
9. Portugal | Autódromo do Estoril | Lisbon
10. Finland | Kymi Ring | Iitti
11. Great Britain | Silverstone Circuit
12. Germany | Nürburgring
13. France | Circuit de la Sarthe Bugatti | LeMans
14. Austria | Red Bull Ring | Spielberg
15. Italy | Autodromo Nacional Monza | Monza
16. Belgium | Spa-Francorchamps | Spa
17. Netherlands | Circuit Zandvoort
Beginning the European leg with the crown jewel of the principality of Monaco and moving to Spain, Portugal, and new entrant Finland, which deserves a race after giving the sport drivers such as Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen, Heiki Kovailenen and Vatteri Bottas. Silverstone is followed by Nürburgring. The French GP is at LeMans instead of Paul Ricard, hence adding a world famous circuit to the calendar. Spielberg follows and there is a summer break. Spa reopens the season, Monza thereafter, with the final race in the Netherlands. Spain-Portugal, France-Austria and Belgium-Netherlands can be double headers.
18. Vietnam | Hanoi Street Circuit | Hanoi
19. Singapore | Marina Street Circuit | Singapore
20. Japan | Suzuka Circuit | Suzuka
21. USA | Circuit of the Americas | Austin
22. USA | Vegas Street Circuit | Las Vegas
23. México | Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez | México City
24. Argentina | Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez | Buenos Aires
25. Brazil | Interlagos | São Paulo
The second Asian leg has two street circuits in Hanoi and Singapore finishing with the classic 8-shaped Suzuka. Undeniably, two races in the USA is the way forward and F1 comes to the Americas again with 5 races at the business end of the season. Austin and the night race in Las Vegas are double headers. This takes the show to 3 capital cities - México City, Buenos Aires and with the season finale in São Paulo.
It would be fast, exciting, exhausting, but fun. Pure F1.