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Long Beach Start
IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 46: Perfect F1 Finale?

Today’s question: Formula One ends its exciting 2021 season with a race this Sunday in Saudi Arabia and the season finale Dec. 12 in Abu Dhabi. Both circuits are new and state of the art but lack F1 heritage. Knowing the season ends with consecutive races and that colder weather has arrived in many northern climates, which circuits – active or inactive – would you choose for the final two races of the season in your dream F1 calendar?

Curt Cavin: Assuming these races are in November, as is Formula One’s custom, I could make a strong case to finish the season in Mexico City, with Circuit of The Americas being the penultimate race. Yes, I’m wearing my provincial hat as I type this, but these are terrific circuits for fan engagement and theater, and both draw huge crowds. Both races are key to the North American market and engage critical U.S. sponsors, but they also are held essentially in prime time in Europe. Now, having said this, holding any race at Interlagos in Sao Paulo, much less the finale, would be unbelievable. Actually, F1 must agree with my thought process as it ran Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo in succession late in the year from 2015-18. The difference: Those seasons ended in Abu Dhabi, which is a non-ideal nine time zones ahead of the East Coast in the U.S.

Zach Horrall: First and foremost, let’s put Long Beach back on the Formula One calendar as a fall event in addition to its spring NTT INDYCAR SERIES race. It’s a great circuit in a warm area with F1 heritage (the United States Grand Prix was held here from 1976-83), and it’s a destination area just south of Los Angeles. LA is a global market that should be a must for F1. Secondly, maybe I just miss this circuit since Formula One hasn’t raced here since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I would love to see the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park as another destination race at the end of the season. Melbourne is a beautiful city, and the circuit provides good racing, a combination deserving of an important place on the calendar. It’s losing its season-opener status in 2022, so why not move it to the end of the season?

Paul Kelly: I’m old school. Well, OK: I’m old. I would go back to the future and end with consecutive races at Melbourne, for all of the reasons Zach so eloquently stated above, and then Suzuka. It would be deluxe. A great street circuit in Melbourne followed by a tense, gripping finale at, with all apologies to Spa, the ultimate driver’s track on the F1 calendar at Suzuka. There are so many cool common denominators among both circuits. Both have great history. Both breed very good racing. And both take place in markets with abundant passion for F1. In other words, they’re everything that the Tilkedromes at Jeddah and Abu Dhabi are not. Sadly, the time zones for Australia and Japan don’t work that well with European and North American TV slots, so my dream finale probably never will happen.

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