Ex-driver has bad news for F1 fans

Some of Formula 1's most famous and historic circuits are at risk of being dropped from the calendar.

Former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi is uncertain what the future holds for the French Grand Prix amid the influx of new venues, but he believes it has a good chance of staying on the calendar.

Formula 1 is undergoing a shift at the moment that is set to see some famous and founding European races dropped in favour of new, more modern venues around the world.

There will be three races in the United States next season, while the pinnacle of motorsport will return to Qatar along with Saudi Arabia, who are said to want to add another race in the Kingdom.

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Colombia has also been touted to play host to the Caribbean Grand Prix, and South Africa is poised to make a return next year.

The interest in additional demographics around the world has exploded into life as a result of Netflix’s Drive to Survive series, and the influx of venues bidding to host races makes for an intriguing time for the sport.

With 24 races taking place next year and so many new venues coming in, it is looking as though Belgium, Austria, Monaco and France all at immediate threat, while Silverstone Monza – whose contracts run out in 2024 – are not entirely safe either.

Alesi suggests that, with F1 now looking at shining its light on so many different venues around the world, France may not be a factor in the championship for many more years to come.

“Street tracks, we see them a lot, especially in Formula E where free practice, qualifying and the race are concentrated on a single day,” he told Nicematin in France.

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“In F1, that is not really a strong trend. In the Middle East with colossal means, it is above all a question of promoting a place, a country.

“The same for Miami. I was there. In fact, it isn’t a real street circuit because the track goes around an American football stadium, on the outskirts. 

“Finally, to answer your question, quite frankly, in France, in Italy, I have a hard time imagining an F1 race in town.”

The Monaco Grand Prix did not actually have a contract for 2022, but reached an extension deal with F1 for this season, and the race winner in 1995 with Ferrari joins a host of key figures in describing the Principality as “special.”

“Monaco has a special status, a place apart because it is an atypical and historic circuit which has regularly hosted F1 since the creation of the world championship,” added Alesi.

“I don’t know how negotiations are going at the moment, so I can’t give my opinion.”

Despite his reservations over Paul Ricard’s chances of hosting future races, Alesi sees an opening provided the race in Le Castellet this year is a success.

“As for the Grand Prix de France, I trust the GIP in place,” he stated.

“There is no doubt that the next deadline will weigh heavily in the balance. 

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“It will condition the future. If the 2022 race is a great success, sporting and popular with fans, we can really hope for a favourable follow-up event.”

France has hosted 61 French Grand Prix since the start of the championship era in 1950, with famous circuits such as Le Mans, Magny Cours and Dijon hosting the race as well as Paul Ricard.

The latter has often produced boring races, making it one of the least-loved circuits among fans.