The way forward for the French Grand Prix and a number of other different traditional 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’ massive metropolis road 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 probably lack of the game’s iconic conventional circuits, together with the Spa-Francorchamps observe 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, house owners of the business rights, forge a brand new future, breaking from the previous and concentrating on new youthful audiences.
“I don’t wish to see myself in 2028, or no matter, driving solely on road circuits near a metropolis only for the fan engagement, or no matter,” mentioned championship chief Verstappen.
“I perceive everybody desires to generate profits, however there’s additionally a restrict to that as a result of it’s necessary to maintain these actually cool circuits on the calendar as an alternative of simply driving on road circuits, which I believe F1 automobiles should not designed for anyway.”
Verstappen has been reluctant to simply accept the game’s Americanisation, led by house owners Liberty Media’s push for a Netflix-driven enlargement into new markets together with the USA, the Center East and South Africa and objected to taking part 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’s the top of a contract wherein France needed to present its know-how in organisation,” he mentioned. “200,000 folks stuffed the circuit between Friday and Sunday, which is an absolute report.
“We’re in the midst of a dialogue -– so no, I’m not resigned. I noticed our nation regain its Grand Prix de France –- this magnificent, fashionable sporting occasion. I’m satisfied that within the coming weeks, we may have extraordinarily constructive issues to announce for the way forward for our Grand Prix.”
Le Mans to host race?
French driver Esteban Ocon of Alpine steered 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 believe now we have a number of choices,” he mentioned. “I don’t assume round Paris is life like with the way in which the folks there are working the world, however there are others that would work –- Magny-Cours, after all, however it’s arduous 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 don’t care in regards to the enterprise facet of it as a driver, but it surely leaves F1 in a greater place and for us it’s 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 underneath menace lately because the internet hosting charges have risen with the arrival of latest occasions together with Miami, Singapore, Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Jeddah and extra deliberate.
France has paid a reported charge 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 truth is that F1 is extraordinarily enticing and there are a variety 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 hundreds of followers would spend three days in chilly, moist woodlands, staying in tents, to look at the Belgian race fairly than a luxurious resort in a heat local weather with a road observe.
“It’s only a nice observe to drive… I perceive that to get there in comparison with different tracks, it’s in all probability just a little bit tougher, however it’s simply improbable,” he mentioned.