So, as you may have guessed from the title, the FIA released their 2012 calendar today. As expected the list was cut to twenty. Also as expected, they have been complete idiots when it comes to which race is cut and organizing the calendar. In all fairness, it’s not all bad, but a quick look shows the negatives outweighing the positives. Below is a quick rundown of the 2012 calendar’s good, bad, and ugly.
Testing Returns: After a knee-jerk total ban on in season testing, the FIA has designated a three week period before the Spanish GP as a sort of mini R&D break. Teams will be allowed three days around Mugello to, presumably, do whatever the hell they want. This should allow the teams to analyze problems that evolve during an entire GP, test improvements, and rebuild parts for their car using substantive data instead of relying on a “bolt it on for a race, pray it works” approach. With any luck, this will prevent another Red Bull 2011 scenario (or depending on how you look at it, a Williams 2011 scenario as well) and allow the smaller teams (who lack funding to basically bring a new car to each event) a chance to observe what works well and capitalize on it.
TL;DR: Three days to test, three weeks to prep and analyze, should allow for more natural car development rather than the fits and starts we’ve seen.
The United States Gets a GP: Alright, some of you might not care about this, but this is something I’m looking forward to. The second paddock passes go on sale, this guy is getting one. After the massive cockup that was the last American GP this is our big second chance. The November date also means I can enjoy some F1 magic without sweating my ass off.
The Organization: I’ve always argued that a great way to cut costs in F1 would be to group the races in a more logical way. While improvements have been made, some of these last minute changes are a bit perplexing. We have events go from SE Asia, to China, then the Middle East, then western Europe, then North America, back to Europe, back to Asia, back to the Middle East, and wrapping up in America.
How can this be improved? Why not group all the events by region. Start in Asia, go to the Middle East, then Europe, and wrap in America. Group each regions’ GP’s close together, with breaks in between for development. This can do two things. First, it decreases the amount of unnecessary travel. Secondly, knowing they’ll be out for weeks at a time, this may give teams an incentive to set up facilities in new regions of the world. This approach can save money, increase F1’s brand reach, and provide new employment opportunities all in one.
Turkey Drops: We all kinda knew this was coming anyway. We just didn’t want to admit it. FOM’s failure to properly promote the GP, lack of interest, no Turkish driver, whatever the reason(s) for poor attendance may be, Bernie and Co. have had enough. What’s depressing is Turkey has always provided some great racing. Sure, this year was a bit of a faff but that’s more on Pirelli and the FIA. Pirelli for making their tires too cliffy, the FIA for making the DRS so fecking long that it became a push-to-pass GP. Otherwise, Turkey provides great racing and, while not Spa level unpredictable, the conditions always bring a nice variable to the table.
Here’s a rundown of tracks that should go before Turkey:
China: Track is so unoriginal it’s not funny. It has turns copied from Malaysia, then Malaysia again, then Spain, then Malaysia, then Spain some more. Going there means breathing air with enough chemicals to kill a small country. Not worth it in my opinion.
Bahrain: Do you even need to ask?
Valencia: See above.
Hungary: This year was interesting, and the track has lots of history, but I prefer Turkey’s layout. Purely a personal choice.
Five Week Break: You may have noticed I didn’t list “more back to back races” up there. This is the reason why. For some reason, three weeks is not enough time for the drivers to chillax and get form back *cough* Lewis *cough*. Whatever their reasoning may be, this is an extraordinary length of time. Why not use this space for Turkey, or if you still want to drop that race, why not add in a French GP? This makes no sense to me. The only thing I can think of is this is a placeholder for when Russia gets a GP in 2014.
So what do you guys think? You agree with this, or am I full of it? Let me know, I won’t censor comments to make it look like you agree with me, promise. 😉