F1 drivers worried about losing iconic races

Formula 1 drivers are worried that the sport’s expansion into new and lucrative markets will result in some of the most historic venues falling off the calendar.

F1 will travel to an unprecedented 23 circuits this year including Miami, with another exciting US race scheduled to race down Las Vegas’ fabled ‘strip’ from 2023.

At the same time, rumours are swirling in the paddock that F1’s expansion could be at the expense of Paul Ricard and even the fabled Spa-Francorchamps and Monaco.

“I mean, these are the right things to do from a business side of things,” Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll said in Melbourne.

“But it will definitely will be a shame to see maybe some very traditional tracks that are great to drive, that we’ve been going to for a long time, being under threat and potentially disappearing.”

Frenchman Esteban Ocon vowed to do “everything I can to be vocal” about trying to keep Paul Ricard on the calendar.

“I don’t know what the situation is exactly but I’m not happy to hear that it’s under threat at the moment,” said the Alpine driver.

“I think we all have the same opinion – drivers, teams and probably Formula 1 as well,” Ocon added.

One suggestion doing the rounds is that F1’s future calendar will have a core group of prestigious permanent rounds, and then other race dates that are rotated between other hosts annually.

“Hopefully for the future we can find a compromise,” Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said. “Then we keep coming back to the places we’ve always been to.

“Business is business,” the Spaniard added, “and Liberty and Formula 1 will do what they have to do.

“But Europe is where our heritage is and I think we need to keep coming back, even if it’s not every single year.”

Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer said on Saturday: “I do think we need to strike a good balance between tradition and where the sport started.

“But I think F1 will do that job, do it well, and I think we’ll have a good balance in the end.”

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