“A better way to race across 25 markets would be to have an F1 season of, say, 20 races, of which 15 or so would be fixed annual events and the remaining five shared between different venues, on a rotational basis each year. It’s important we have variety in our race venues and allow new countries the opportunity to host a grand prix, while maintaining a level of scarcity value in our sport.”
The rotating venues idea has a lot of appeal. Certainly, one of the upsides of last year’s upheaval was the very different calendar and range of venues the championship visited. But these were invariably traditional European venues – Mugello, Imola, Nürburging and Portimão among them, places that would never have been able to justify F1’s pre-pandemic hosting fees.
“I welcome F1’s new 2022 rule to mandate that each team must run drivers with no more than two F1 races in their careers in two practice sessions each season,” says Brown. “But this needs to expand. We can then also encourage drivers from the region we are racing in to participate and grow awareness for the sport in that territory. Young, up-and-coming racers bring dynamism to the sport which the fans love. They shake-up the established order, breathe fresh energy onto the grid and can revitalise a team.”
They can also electrify interest in the sport in their home regions. F1 has for years badly needed a stone-cold brilliant American F1 driver, for example. It needs a new Dan Gurney, Peter Revson or Mario Andretti. The same would follow for any of the other regions F1 hopes to conquer.
Like any global sport, Formula One has the reach to influence changes in societal attitudes. Whether that’s the sport’s place or not is where fans differ, and there are multiple booby traps within this argument. But it’s not so much about the sport ‘deciding’ which attitudes are the ‘correct’ ones, but to choose and promote its own values. Lewis Hamilton has been arguably the major mover on racial diversity and equality in the past year and it has created resentment among some of the fanbase. But there is a real risk in F1 not doing so, of the series making itself a dinosaur in a world where huge changes are underway, of being on the wrong side of history.