Are Classic F1 Circuits in Europe Finished?


Kyalmi, Nurburgring, Hockenheim, Zandvoort, Paul Ricard, and Magny -Cours. Remember these names well. They were some of the most hallowed grounds of formula one racing. These were the classic tracks. And now in the new age of F1, these tracks no longer hold races because of the huge amounts of money that they require.

What is replacing them are tracks that are in Asia and in the Middle East. The formula one community wish for no more than 20 races on the calendar so with so many tracks vying for a position, it is not surprising that the European circuits, which are funded by their governments are cash strapped to host their nation’s race. What is also happening is that circuits are being phased out and street tracks are now replacing them. Look what is happening in Sochi, Russia. And now for next season, Baku, in Azerbaijan, will host the European Grand Prix on a street track.

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Kyalmi was a circuit in South Africa. Some of it still remains, but certainly not like it was. The city of Cape Town has some interest on hosting yes, a street race, but to no avail. Zandvoort last hosted the Dutch Grand Prix in the mid 1980’s and was built near the town of Haarlem in western Holland near a beach. It still hosts the DTM series, but it has never been discussing about bringing back the race for F1.

The French Grand Prix was always the daddy of Formula One. But it too, has not hosted a race since the mid 2000’s when it was staged at Magny –Cours in central France, near the ski binding town of Nevers. It had a good smooth track, but the location was christened “Magny Bore” for its lack of excitement outside the track, and was never popular again. While Magny-Cours stopped paying, Paul Ricard, near the south port of Toulon, was another idea. And in fact, Bernie Ecclestone, the head of FOM (Formula One Management) owns this track. But the problem is not Ecclestone, it is the current government in France with Francois Hollande, who does not want to pick the barrel and spend for a new track. This is why the French Grand Prix is another race that is literally, history.

Germany for years hosted the race at the famed Nurburgring near Koblenz. But in 1976, Niki Lauda nearly was killed there and because of safety, it was moved to Hockenheim. Now in 2015, the tracks are no longer possible to host a race because of the high costs to host them. Both circuits also had a rule that one would host the even years, the other the odd. However, the even year host, the Nurburgring, went under new ownership, and gave Ecclestone the boot, never becoming interested in F1 again. Hockenheim, was the only alternative to host a race, but like its compatriot, had little money to host the nation’s race. So Ecclestone gave up and for the first time since 1960, there is no German Grand Prix.

That leaves Monza. This Italian gem has hosted every grand prix since 1950 except one. And the money trail is beginning to get thin even here. The final race of the European season could face next year the same fate. Like the Dutch, the South Africans, the Germans and the French, it would be the end of this classic legend.

Some tracks of the classic mold are still around. But what will their fate become?? Spa, Silverstone, The Ossereichring (now is down the road called the Red Bull Ring) and the classic street track in Monaco are still left. One is still around in Europe, and it is impossible why it is. And this is in Hungary, a track which is dirty, dusty, twisty and is only used a few times a year for some reason still seems to have funding for a race each year.

But even as the formula one scene still is based around the world and is still a “World Championship”, tracks simply run out of money and cannot continue to hold races every year. Even outside of Europe, Turkey and South Korea have expired. The sport is still known for its rich flavor, but the economic situation now is beginning to put the sport into a stale mold. The country of Mexico will host a new race this year, and the track has been rebuilt to host a modern grand prix. Holland, Germany, South Africa and France should take a page from the Mexicans and reconsider to come back in the future to host a modern race on their classic tracks.

Because history can still be a part of the sport. And even if things change, the old ways can sometimes be just as good.

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