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By John Floyd

Motorsport columnist

FLOYD ON F1: Sterile designer tracks pose threat to classic circuits

F1 bosses are adamant to take the sport to every part of the globe, with as many as 30 races on the future calendar.

It definitely all happened in Jeddah last weekend, the venue for the second round of the 2022 F1 season.

With his first-ever pole position after 11 years in the sport, it looked good for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, until a safety car period. It was the result of Nicholas Latifi planting his Williams firmly into a wall, ruining the Mexican’s chance of the victory.

Having just pitted for a quick tyre change, Perez’s advantage was negated. As most of the field pitted for new rubber during the safety car period with a minimal loss of track position, he dropped to fourth and despite a good effort, was still there at the finish.

The on track battles were excellent throughout the field, although I am not sure Alpine’s “let them race” policy was quite what they had in mind, as Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso demonstrated genuine “close” racing on several occasions. The final laps with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were nail-biting and enjoyed by both driver’s and viewers.

ALSO READ: Verstappen edges Leclerc in thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Great racing and hopefully Bahrain and Jeddah have set the tone for all of 2022. Formula One Management (FOM) must be delighted – the season’s car changes appear to be achieving the company’s objectives and probably providing growth on the financial balance sheet.

Of concern to me is an article I recently read regarding the possible future plans for the sport as envisaged by CEO of the Formula One Group, Stefano Domenicali.

We are all aware of the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix and subsequent F1 events at the Sochi circuit, which decreased this year’s total race count to 22, rather than the record-breaking 23 events scheduled.

A determined FOM are negotiating with other circuits to fill the void to ensure the original target is achieved. In an interview with Sky Sports Domenicali said he believes the sport could sustain 30 races per annum. He already has 24 in his sights, with the extra one probably going to be the dreaded Las Vegas round.

He feels Africa is on the F1 agenda, and is reported as saying: “There is a lot of interest there. For sure that’s another area that so far is missing in our calendar.”

Is the objective of FOM to ensure every part of the globe gets a home Grand Prix?

He added: “There are some promoters who have expiring agreements, and probably some of the current Grands Prix will no longer be part of the calendar.”

Does this once more infer a risk for the European and classic circuits to be replaced by sterile designer tracks which do not provide the type of racing true F1 fans enjoy?

I sincerely hope not.

To see the 2022 F1 calendar, click here.

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