same sort of terms other people pay in
Europe,” he said. “There are no
concessions, not at all.”
He said that at a time when a new deal for
Monza, now in the last year of its contract,
seemed likely. Today, it’s a very realistic
possibility that it might lose the race because
it can’t afford it. Given it had a race-day
attendance of 80,000 in 2015, what does
that say about the business model?
Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, Australia and Japan.
The latter two of those are well-established and have what might be
termed an old-world feel, as do non-European races like Mexico, the USA and
Canada, which underlines the dangers of
being too black and white about what
regions should and shouldn’t host a race.
Nobody would argue Singapore doesn’t
add a great deal to F1 – it’s one of the
highlights of the calendar. But less
desirable, and even damaging, are the
short-termers such as Turkey (seven
races), South Korea (four) and India
(three), which came and went and bumped
more established races that might have
been lower yield, but longer term.
India is a good example. Its deal started
at $35m per race, with a 10 percent
escalator – and this was a deal done by a
private company rather than the
government. For the third year, it had to
be re-negotiated down to $28 million, and
then organizers had to pay $20 million to
get out of the final two years of its deal.
It’s not that there isn’t interest in what
might be termed more “traditional”
venues. Kyalami (last seen 1993),
Zandvoort (1985), Imola (2006) and
Buenos Aires (1997) have all shown
some interest in recent years, some far
more seriously than others. So there is a
desire in Europe to hold grands prix, but
without government megabucks, often
from emerging nations, it’s very difficult.
This is the bed F1 has built for itself. And
while Ecclestone is able to keep juggling
and replacing any lost venues, the model
works. Maybe it’ll go on forever, but it
probably won’t. A record 21 races this year
suggests it would be foolish to claim the
bubble has already burst, but it surely will.
That’s why the traditional races matter.
For any business, the reliable, consistent,
ever-present customers are your bedrock.
Neglect them for new, potentially transient
economic gain at your peril. It wouldn’t take
much to lose the Italian and German races,
two originals, in the very near future. A
travelling circus with no regular stops can
thrive for a time, but not indefinitely.
(LEFT) F1 supremo
expansion plans have
delivered wins like
race, but also
elephants such as the
Turkish GP (ABOVE).
“Hockenheim has already
warned that anything
less than a sellout for this
year’s GP could mean the
end for future races”
This all matters because, once races
disappear, they tend to stay gone. There
are exceptions, but usually these are
one-year absences for specific reasons.
Even so, as it stands, 2016’s 21-race
calendar is still reasonably well-balanced.
It’s difficult to define what counts as
”traditional” – it remains a subjective
term, but only nine of the races on the