Why Not a Flexible Calendar?
It looks as though Singapore have got their GP for next year. Valencia, too, is making a strong bid for a race and may be allowed as the “Mediterranean GP”. That would give the lie to Bernie’s stated aim not to let one country have more than one GP (which was always going to be overlooked in the case of a second US GP anyway) and should give Imola extra encouragement to get their alterations done quickly, if the organizers still want the circuit to return to the calendar.
Then there is India waiting in the wings and rumors of a return to Mexico, not forgetting South Africa who want a race too. A quart of races and a pint pot of a calendar to squeeze them into. Add to that the reluctance of the teams to take on even more GPs and it seems an impossible situation. But there might be a way.
Suppose, for instance, the calendar were extended to include twenty-five GPs but teams could only take part in twenty of them. One could make fifteen of the races mandatory (preferably the old ones that no-one wants to lose) and then have a rota system for the remaining ten to ensure that the teams don’t all go for the same races. Numbers of competitors would be down in the “optional” races but this could be compensated for by allowing (or enforcing) new wannabe teams to participate in the extra races for their first year or two. They would be allowed to score points but barred from the mandatory races until they had proved their ability to compete at the level of F1. The sport would be spared the embarrassment of another farce like the Andrea Moda saga therefore.
The advantages of such a system are many. Great and time-honored circuits that are now under threat would gain some security while new races get the chance to prove themselves. Teams would not have the expense of participating in more races than logistics and economics allow but would still be on view everywhere at least once every two years. Every race venue could have a GP each year and we would no longer have to hear of possible “sharing” of GPs between Britain and France (okay, France has taken itself out of the equation for 2008 but I’m sure it will want to return thereafter). And the fans would get an increase in the number of races, something they all seem to want.
It would be similar to the occasionally-tried system of only permitting points scored in a number of races less than the total, except that the teams would not have to travel to the races where they were not going to score. The inclusion of new teams would increase the number of concerns willing to give F1 racing a try and sort out the wheat from the chaff at the same time. If they were to score a few points now and then, that could even spice up the battles between existing teams and make the championship a little less predictable. Plus it would be an excellent way for new drivers to gain a foothold in the sport and show their worth.
No doubt this idea would involve a lot of calculating to see which races should go where and how the teams are allocated optional races to ensure fairness. It might be necessary to make it slightly more complicated by shaking up the allocation every now and then to ensure that certain races do not become the domain of a team whose prime competitor does not race in those GPs in the same year – although the other team would presumably have a similar advantage in the GPs it was attending.
It seems to me that this might be a way of solving several problems at the same time so a little complication in designing it should not put us off. It might even work.
Of course, I’m sure Bernie and Max don’t read Formula 1 Latest so there’s no danger of them considering the matter. It’s okay, you can relax – just another of my wild ideas…