Last Updated on 21 Sep 2022 4:50 pm (UK Time)
The calendar for next year’s Formula 1 Season has finally been unveiled! A whopping 24 races will take place next year, and whilst we have been drip-fed circuits that will appear, it is still exciting to see where and when they take place. However, some have been placed somewhat confusingly on the calendar, leading to questions about F1’s commitment to sustainability. Here are some of the main points that are worth discussing.
1. China is BACK!
The Chinese Grand Prix is officially back on the calendar after a 3-year hiatus due to Covid-19. Held at the Shanghai International Circuit, this is one of my favourite tracks. Exciting races in the past have included Daniel Ricciardo’s romp to victory in 2018. In 2021 F1 disclosed that the Chinese Grand Prix had extended its contract to 2025, and seeing it back on the calendar is an immense pleasure.
For a global World Championship, there are barely any races in Asia. Covid has postponed racing in Singapore and Japan, with F1 finally returning to these circuits this year. Now China has been added to that list, F1 feels international again, and it has regained one of its classic races.
Also, it will be heartwarming to see Guanyu Zhou, if he has a drive for next year, rock his paddock fashion at his home race, giving the Chinese fans someone to cheer about!
2. Viva Las Vegas Baby
Earlier this year, we knew that F1 would be in Vegas, but its situation on the calendar has been a mystery. Until now. Poised perfectly as the season’s penultimate race, if we have a close championship battle in 2023, Vegas could be fireworks! Being placed towards the end of the season will also build great anticipation for the unknown circuit throughout the year.
Furthermore, it doesn’t distract from the other two American races giving Miami its time at the beginning of the season and COTA (Circuit of the Americas), the US Grand Prix, its usual slot as we head into the latter part of the season. It’s a shame the showstopper did not bag the spot as the season finale, with Abu Dhabi maintaining its place at the end of the calendar.
3. Qatar returns?
It feels rather odd that Qatar will feature in F1 in 2023, but apparently, it is back after its debut in 2021! If F1 aims to be global, it could have benefitted from placing South Africa or Malaysia in that slot. Another race in the Middle East screams money, not necessarily one based on the quality of racing.
Qatar is also randomly wedged between Japan and the USA. Sitting with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the season would make sense regarding sustainability and practicality.
4. Cor, Blimey 24 Races!
I love F1. I miss it when it isn’t on and occupies most of my time. However, coming out of a triple-header, I am exhausted. Purely as a spectator! How must journalists, engineers, and team personnel then feel if I am!? Twenty-two races this season must be tough on people involved in F1, but 24 seems a bit extravagant with only more races to be added in coming years.
Whilst this may be good for viewers, allowing drivers to claw back the championship, this is certainly not good for the health of those working in Formula 1. The championship next year will be even more demanding, especially for already stretched bottom and midfield teams who don’t have a championship hunt to motivate them.
The future is angling towards more F1 races, which is a joy to watch. But how long until it becomes too many races?
5. Sustainability Who?
This calendar does not reflect F1’s environmentally conscious message or the fact they are heading towards net zero. Apart from the classic European season, F1 is hopping from continent to continent next year.
Whilst this makes the calendar more varied, it entirely conflicts with F1’s stance on climate change. Why, will someone tell me, are we going from Australia to China, Azerbaijan to Miami, and then back to Imola? Surely it would make more sense to place Imola and Azerbaijan with the rest of the European races and Canada with Miami rather than in the middle of the European season?
Furthermore, having a Middle Eastern block at the beginning would make much more logistical sense than the current arrangement. I do understand circuits have different commitments, whether that is hosting other racing series or whether the city can allow an F1 race to run there. However, it does feel like there could have been a more environmentally conscious way of structuring this calendar.
Despite the 2023 calendar ignoring sustainability, it offers an enticing assortment of races. 2023 with its new races, returning races, barely tested races, and classic races will be a jam-packed enjoyable season to witness!