Formula 1’s bid to ensure it gets a full calendar of races slotted in amid the coronavirus pandemic has opened the door for a unique calendar this year.
While regular venues like Monza, Silverstone and Spa have continued to hold races, so too are we seeing some firsts like Mugello or the return of old favourites like Turkey and the Nurburgring.
The success of last weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix has highlighted how F1 could be injected with a freshness if there are new events put on the calendar, rather than the sport just repeating the same schedule year after year.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is one who thinks that F1 should learn from the enthusiasm that the new calendar has delivered from teams and fans – and has even suggested a regular ‘invitational’ slot in the future.
“It is great that F1 is going to these different venues and we have some more coming up in Istanbul and Imola,” said Horner, reflecting on the Mugello weekend.
“It keeps up the competition for a place for one of the 22 slots on the calendar and I think it would be good to have some sort of invitation race once a year to take in these different tracks.”
It is a view that Williams driver George Russell agreed with, as he reckoned everyone in F1 would benefit from some different challenges each year.
“It is a great job to F1 to give us that opportunity,” he said of the chance to race in new places like Mugello. “Maybe we need to do this more often, moving forward. Maybe every year we need two joker races or something.”
While some venues like Mugello and the Algarve circuit would certainly struggle to fund a regular slot on the calendar, because of the huge race hosting fees, the idea of a rotational extra race where they get to host a race every few years would not be completely impossible.
Furthermore, there are no shortage of races with the FIA Grade 1 licences that would be perfect additions to the schedule.
Of course some of the 2020 additions, including Imola and the Nurburgring, would all be perfect for making the occasional return to the calendar, but there are some forgotten gems too.
Here is a look at four venues that would be a great fit.
Malaysia last hosted a Formula 1 race in 2017, with its Sepang circuit a firm favourite of drivers and fans.
The venue still holds MotoGP and only turned its back on F1 because the race fees were too high compared to the potential ticket revenue the venue could get.
While the Algarve circuit will hold the Portuguese Grand Prix, the previous home was Estoril – not so far from Lisbon.
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The venue hosted the country’s F1 race from 1984 to 1996 and was the scene of many famous moments, including Ayrton Senna’s first win in 1985, Nigel Mansell’s black flag in 1989 and Jacques Villeneuve’s move on Michael Schumacher around the outside of the final corner in in 1996.
Jerez is better known as a venue for MotoGP these days, but it has had its moments in the Formula 1 spotlight too.
Its debut race in 1986 was remembered for the ultra close finish between Mansell and Senna, while it most famously hosted the season finale in 1997 that witnessed the collision between Villeneuve and Schumacher that decided the world championship.
It was after that race that its fate was decided, however, when a local mayor interrupted the podium ceremony, and the FIA deemed that it should not be allowed to host another race.
While Suzuka has established itself as the regular home of the Japanese Grand Prix, the Fuji circuit north of Tokyo has had its fair share of F1 moments too.
It was the scene of the 1976 F1 title decider between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, while it also had a brief run of modern races when it hosted the 2007 and 2008 Japanese Grands Prix.
And while it had looked set to then alternate with Suzuka longer term, the worldwide financial crisis at the time prompted track owners Toyota to decide to relinquish the race.