F1 drivers discuss the potential news of losing Paul Ricard and Spa-Francorchamps from the calendar amid new places joining in.

The rumour mill a while back was that the 2022 Monaco GP would be the last of same for a while. There are those who say F1 has outgrown the principality circuit and vice-versa.  There are those who also say that F1 does not need Monaco because there are so many better tracks now over the last number of years and that countries are quite literally queuing up to host a Grand Prix.

What has of course been well documented is the Las Vegas GP in 2023, with South Africa in frame for next season too. This season, 23 Grands Prix had been scheduled but with Russia being dropped, 22 are now held and the season is at the halfway stage as we stand. It is still a high number but for countries to join up, someone has to give way.

As a result, there is a rumour of race’s being dropped, so much Paul Ricard has been mentioned but also the immortal Spa-Francorchamps. Everyone loves Spa of course but the inclement conditions can be an issue and challenge as we saw last year. Perhaps also some tracks deserve their place more than others and drivers as well as fans will undoubtedly have their favourites. There is a tremendous amount of ifs and buts.

Here’s select F1 drivers on their views regarding Paul Ricard and Spa:

Esteban Ocon: “Yeah, obviously there’s nothing confirmed yet. I hear a lot of rumours and things about the French Grand Prix mainly. I don’t really know about the Belgian Grand Prix exactly but, yeah, I saw a great comment from Stefano, basically saying that France deserves to have a Grand Prix in the future. This is my stance as well, this is what I believe in Grand Prix, there is a Grand Prix in there you know, and it’s a French word. There’s a big community for motor sport in France, we have some of the biggest and the best cars as well. And yeah, I mean, we could find a race if Ricard is not working, we could find a race anywhere and I saw some comments from Stefano about that so I was pretty happy to see that. Obviously, I’m going to go there next race, being very happy to go and enjoy my French Grand Prix. I’m going to have my grandstand as well for the first time. So yeah, I look forward to enjoying the boost from the supporters there.”

Kevin Magnussen: “Yes, as Esteban said, there’s nothing confirmed so it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to speculate  but there’s a lot of good tracks around the world that I’d love to drive a F1 car at. A lot of them might not be realistic but there’s some US tracks that I tried last year that I’d love to have a go at in one of these cars. So I’d say Watkins Glen, that’s a great one and I actually think Formula 1 cars  could run there, maybe safety-wise not so much but at least in terms of the smoothness of the track. Road America is awesome and there’s even places like… not so realistic ones like Mid-Ohio that I really enjoyed, little places that are just so crazy to drive when you’ve been in Formula 1 for so many years. It’s nice when Formula 1 goes places that are a little extreme. We went to Mugello a couple years ago, and that felt like something else, something that we don’t usually experience and it’s just a lot of fun. We are racing drivers, we enjoy driving cars in crazy tracks but there’s a lot to it when it comes to picking out tracks for Formula 1 races”.

Max Verstappen: “Yeah, it would be a big shame to lose Spa. It’s my favourite track in the world and also with the recent changes they did to the run off and stuff. Yeah, I think it’s just an amazing track in a Formula 1  car, any car to be honest, with all the high speed corners and the flow it has in general. And yeah, there are so many tracks out there in the world where I think it will be nice to have a Formula 1 race, but somehow just simply not really realistic. But on the other end, like Kevin said, Mugello is insane in a Formula 1 car. I also liked the Nurburgring to drive. Nordschleife is maybe a bit tricky with an F1 car nowadays, but we leave that up to GT3. But yeah, so many cool tracks in the world but also on the other hand, I think it’s nice that F1 has their certain tracks, and then you can do the other races in other kinds of cars.”

Carlos Sainz: “Yeah, I think there’s a compromise to be found, because in the end, I think we all love going to France, to Spa but at the same time the sport is growing so much that I guess there’s a lot of new places that are, I guess, paying quite a lot of money to be part of Formula 1. And it’s difficult, as a business point of view, to say no to that, especially one of the overseas: Vegas, South Africa, Miami, there’s really interesting new places to go to that I’m in favour of going but at the same time, we need to keep the calendar under 25 races.  If not, this is going to go a bit crazy for everyone, even mechanics,  engineers, us drivers. It could be too much so new places are welcome, but for sure some others need to fall. I think the best compromise would be to do rotation and I understand that we might… or that France or Spa maybe cannot afford to be in the calendar every year but I hope that at least we can go there every two years or every three years we can visit Spa in a Formula 1 car and I just wish that even if Vegas, South Africa, whatever is coming, that we can still go to back to France or back to Spa every now and then to keep enjoying those kinds of circuits and maybe like this they can afford it a bit easier.”

Yuki Tsunoda: “I think that especially Spa is kind of a historical track and I think it’s old school, it’s an amazing track. So yeah, personally I really like that track. I recommend probably Japan of course. There’s a Fuji Speedway with a ridiculously long straight, like two kilometres. And there’s an opportunity to overtake a lot if we had DRS there so yeah.”

Fact is however that F1 is changing and while it is good to see new circuits appear, it would be a shame if some immortal circuit are discontinued; Monaco, Spa, and Monza need to be kept for one reason or another and in the United States there are several tracks which could certainly host, namely Watkins Glen and Road America to name but two.

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