The Indian Grand Prix is about to take a year-long sabbatical from F1 but there’s no shortage of replacements. So, what can we expect from 2014’s four(!) new venues?
Grand Prix of America, Port Imperial, New Jersey, USA - June 1
F1 with a Manhattan backdrop is great in theory but this race is a major doubt. Dropped from 2013’s calendar as the street circuit wasn’t ready, it was conspicuous by its absence from the first 2014 draft calendar. However, it has popped up again slated for June 1 next year as the middle race of an unlikely triple-header with Monaco and Montreal on either side. “Even for a top team it’s something almost impossible to be done,” concluded Ferrari team manager Massimo Rivola.
Add to that the fact that communication from the organiser has been sparse, no tickets are on sale, the race’s website is largely a blank space and its Facebook page hasn’t been updated in more than a year and the likelihood of drivers and cars turning up in Port Imperial next year looks very slim indeed.
Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria - June 22
In contrast, Austria’s return to the calendar is a racing cert. The old A1 Ring, last used by F1 in 2003, has been rebuilt by Red Bull and for the last few years has been hosting major events such as DTM and WSR. In terms of the event as an experience, the Austrian GP of old was always a cosy race, defined by the beautiful Styrian countryside, the lack of major hotels in the area and the necessity of staying in the many little B&Bs near the circuit. Alternatively, the pretty city of Graz is only an hour’s drive away.
Russian Grand Prix, Sochi Street Circuit, Sochi, Russia - October 5
Russia has been on F1’s wish list for decades but momentum started to crank up in the early 2000s when Bernie Ecclestone signed a deal to race in Moscow. That fell through but in 2010 a deal was done to race at a street circuit in Sochi, to be constructed around the Park being built for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
So what to expect? Well, so far there’s not a lot of information. It’s a holiday resort on the same latitude as Nice in France, so the weather, even in October, should be pleasant, with highs of 20°C. However, in the best tradition of paranoia among the F1 Press, there are already rumours of astronomically expensive hotels and difficult and costly travel to the city itself and the circuit.
As for the track, oddly for a street circuit it appears to have a number of very high-speed sections, the most interesting of which could be a long, long left-handed arc around the so-called “medals plaza” and which is reckoned to be taken at over 300kph.
Mexican Grand Prix, Autodromo Hermanos Rodgriguez, Mexico City, Mexico - November 16
Two Mexican drivers in F1 and a load of sponsorship money flowing into the sport… it was only a matter of time before the Mexican Grand Prix made a return, with the race set be staged to its original location, Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Last used by F1 in 1992, the circuit has deteriorated over the last two decades. It’s still active as a club racing venue but mostly it’s used by locals as a running or cycling track. Like New Jersey, Mexico’s latest F1 adventure is featured on the calendar as ‘provisional’.