It is hard to imagine that 10 years ago there was only one street circuit in Formula 1 World Championship. But now the number of the city stages included in the championship calendar is growing exponentially.
What is the reason for the popularity of street circuits? And can they be the future direction for Formula 1?
Cost-effective marketing solution
Very often, when the circuits are located far from cities, Formula 1 teams face additional logistical problems. This can cause unnecessary costs. The street tracks allow racing in or near the city, thereby cutting logistical costs and attracting more tourists to the country.
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This is the main reason why it is also easier for the local authorities to host the Grand Prix in their country. They fund race fees and other expenses, plan and run the race in a metropolitan area rather than on the outskirts.
The fans prefer city tracks simply because they do not have to go anywhere: if the stands cannot be reached on foot, then it is easy to get to it by public transport.
The second and main reason is the huge amount of entertainment. For those who do not want to spend all day in the stands, it is important to find something to do in the evenings and in between races. On permanent circuits, there is only one alternative: the evening after the race will take place on a tiring journey home from the track. The street circuits provide an opportunity to stay for a musical event after sunset or take a walk around the city. If we talk about daytime entertainment, then Formula 1 Grand Prix can be considered the best showcase for any city.
Live race broadcasting plays a key role for the host cities. Viewers from all over the world are able to see the main tourist attractions and the most beautiful scenes of the city from a bird’s eye view. Benefits for viewers translate into profits for host countries. Attracting fans to spend more time in the city, translate into them spending more money and it has a greater effect on the local economy.
Street circuits have undesirable consequences, one of which is the cost. It is more expensive to put an event in a city because there are one-time costs associated with the purchase of fences, security barriers, the construction of grandstands, hospitality suites and other infrastructure, possibly laying of new asphalt, annual costs of preparing for the next race. When designing a city race, there are also many difficulties, it is necessary to consider all the needs of people and businesses that will be located inside the circuit. Because of this, it is not always possible to create a spectacular track, which is why not all street circuits are loved.
Another disadvantage of these tracks is that they only rarely have historical motorsport heritage. As soon as the next race takes place, they forget all about it until the next Grand Prix; it is impossible to hold any other national or club-level competitions on these tracks. Although there are street tracks that have already gone down in history as some of the most beloved by drivers and fans – Monaco and Baku.
Despite the listed disadvantages, for the first time in the history of Formula 1, 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place at the Jeddah Street Circuit. It was recently announced that the 2022 Miami Grand Prix will be held at the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens. And there are rumours that very soon we will see street races in Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, Berlin and Hanoi.
Liberty Media’s policy is aimed at bringing the races as close to the fans as possible. So, the Formula 1 urbanization project is well underway and the street circuits are part of this implementation strategy. At this rate, we will soon end up with a Formula 1 calendar including only street circuits…