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Are fears over F1’s street race surge justified?

“Not another street circuit,” was the dominant line of response on social media in the wake of F1’s announcement that the Spanish GP would move away from its long-time home in Barcelona.

With Barcelona’s future in limbo, from 2026 onwards the event will head to a new semi-street circuit in Madrid, located at the IFEMA fairgrounds close to its Barajas airport, much closer to the city centre than its Catalan counterpart.

The twisty track map, which features some purpose-built sections include a high-speed banked corner as well as a more typical stop-start street lay-out, did little to further inspire confidence among a growing number of disgruntled fans that feel F1 is starting to move away too much from their beloved traditional, permanent venues to less evocative city loops.

In recent years several street circuits have joined the calendar, including the likes of Baku, Jeddah and Las Vegas. Then there are urban or parkland circuits. Not technically street circuits, but located in such dense metropolitan areas that track designers are constrained by the cramped surroundings.

Miami is one, and Madrid will be too.

You could argue about some, but looking at this year’s calendar, seven out of 24 venues can be classified as some form of street circuit: Jeddah, Melbourne, Miami, Monaco, Baku, Singapore and Las Vegas.

They all fit in Liberty Media’s strategy of heading to vibrant ‘destination’ cities, making it easier for fans to access the venues using public transport and existing infrastructure, while also giving teams and sponsors more attractive hospitality options.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

With 17 permanent venues remaining, it seems like fan pushback against street circuits is a little overblown at this stage, although it can be seen as a barometer of where long-time aficionados feel the balance should be.

Street circuits and their common barrage of tight 90-degree corners don’t speak to the imagination of either fans or drivers to the same degree as Eau Rouge, Stowe or 130R, and they also don’t bring out the best of this era’s hugely impressive machinery.

The fanfare around F1’s ultimately successful Las Vegas debut hasn’t swayed the purists, and likely never will, and Liberty Media’s outspoken desire to put up 24 Super Bowl-esque events has probably added to the sense of alarm that the Monzas, Spas and Suzukas of the world will have to eventually make way for the likes of Milan, Brussels or Osaka, the latter emerging as a keen candidate to host a race in the future.

But that doesn’t quite appear to be the case.

Motorsport.com understands that F1 is keenly aware of the need to preserve its delicate balance between permanent venues and street circuits – and between tradition and commerce – rather than having the two types of races compete with each other.

And while the term ‘destination city’ evokes images of racing downtown through major metropoles, that doesn’t mean that every new venue has to be just that, as long as fan access and facilities are brought up to standard.

A case in point is Zandvoort, which is some distance away from central Amsterdam but boasts excellent public transport links. Zandvoort’s southern neighbour Spa-Francorchamps has stepped up its game massively in recent years after falling behind the times, now offering much better fan facilities and entertainment packages even as its transportation options are still inherently limited.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, 1st position, waves from his cockpit as fans turn the air orange in celebration of victory

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, 1st position, waves from his cockpit as fans turn the air orange in celebration of victory

Monza is next in line to buy into Liberty’s philosophy of revamping the historic venue’s long inadequate infrastructure in an effort to safeguard its place on the calendar, while also bolstering its sustainability efforts against the backdrop of F1’s Neto Zero 2030 goals.

F1 seems willing to work with promoters of these traditional, fan favourite venues to buy into its vision of what a 21st century grand prix should look like, which could inspire some confidence that it isn’t just set to abandon them altogether.

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This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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