The way forward for the French Grand Prix and a number of other different basic European races was declared unsure on Monday because the mud settled following Max Verstappen’s crushing victory in entrance of a sell-out crowd on the Paul Ricard Circuit. Widespread misgivings about F1’s plans to scrap established conventional races, or rotate them, and as an alternative to carry extra ‘worldwide’ large metropolis avenue circuit occasions, together with a proposed Las Vegas race, dominated paddock debate throughout a sun-baked weekend. World champion Verstappen had joined different drivers earlier than the race in objecting to the doubtless lack of the game’s iconic conventional circuits, together with the Spa-Francorchamps monitor within the Belgian Ardennes, from a proposed 25-race calendar for subsequent 12 months.
Different historic occasions, together with the Monaco and Italian Grands Prix, have been cited as targets for the axe as Liberty Media, homeowners of the industrial rights, forge a brand new future, breaking from the previous and concentrating on new youthful audiences.
“I do not wish to see myself in 2028, or no matter, driving solely on avenue circuits near a metropolis only for the fan engagement, or no matter,” mentioned championship chief Verstappen.
“I perceive everybody needs to make cash, however there may be additionally a restrict to that as a result of it is necessary to maintain these actually cool circuits on the calendar as an alternative of simply driving on avenue circuits, which I feel F1 vehicles aren’t designed for anyway.”
Verstappen has been reluctant to simply accept the game’s Americanisation, led by homeowners Liberty Media’s push for a Netflix-driven growth into new markets together with the USA, the Center East and South Africa and objected to collaborating within the ‘Drive to Survive’ collection.
The game’s traditionalists got hope on Monday when race promoter Christian Estrosi mentioned he was “not resigned” to the lack of the French Grand Prix subsequent 12 months after report crowds at this season’s occasion.
“It is the tip of a contract during which France needed to present its know-how in organisation,” he mentioned. “200,000 individuals stuffed the circuit between Friday and Sunday, which is an absolute report.
“We’re in the course of a dialogue — so no, I’m not resigned. I noticed our nation regain its Grand Prix de France — this magnificent, well-liked sporting occasion. I’m satisfied that within the coming weeks, we can have extraordinarily optimistic issues to announce for the way forward for our Grand Prix.”
Le Mans to host race?
French driver Esteban Ocon of Alpine urged Le Mans, the venue of the world’s most well-known 24-Hour race, may very well be utilized in a brand new format that additionally helped to protect the Belgian Grand Prix.
“I feel we’ve got a number of choices,” he mentioned. “I do not assume round Paris is lifelike with the way in which the individuals there are working the world, however there are others that would work — Magny-Cours, after all, however it’s onerous to get to. Le Mans as a French Grand Prix may very well be superior.”
He added that alternating races in France and Belgium may very well be an answer.
“I do not care in regards to the enterprise facet of it as a driver, nevertheless it leaves F1 in a greater place and for us it is necessary, however as a driving expertise I like Jeddah and plenty of of those new tracks.”
France, Belgium and Italy, together with Britain and Monaco, hosted races within the inaugural 1950 world championship season.
All 5 have been touted as below menace lately because the internet hosting charges have risen with the arrival of recent occasions together with Miami, Singapore, Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Jeddah and extra deliberate.
France has paid a reported payment of round $20 million to host a race at Le Castellet since returning to the calendar in 2018, after a 10-year absence, whereas Saudi Arabia pays a reported $50 million.
“The fact is that F1 is extraordinarily engaging and there are quite a lot of cities and international locations that wish to host F1,” mentioned French GP director Eric Boullier.
Verstappen provided a extra purist view that helped clarify why 1000’s of followers would spend three days in chilly, moist woodlands, staying in tents, to observe the Belgian race fairly than a luxurious lodge in a heat local weather with a avenue monitor.
“It is only a nice monitor to drive… I perceive that to get there in comparison with different tracks, it is most likely a bit of bit harder, however it’s simply unbelievable,” he mentioned.
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