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Bahrain in; Turkey gets the flick – FIA confirms 20 race F1 calendar for 2012
Bahrain in; Turkey gets the flick – FIA confirms 20 race F1 calendar for 2012
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Aug 2011   |  6:25 pm GMT  |  156 comments

The FIA has confirmed an 8 month calendar for next season’s F1 World Championship, with some refinements on the draft calendar circulating earlier this year.

The main talking points are the confirmation of Bahrain, which moves to the fourth round of the calendar, the dropping of Turkey and the inaugural Austin version of the US Grand Prix pairing up with Brazil at the end of the season.

Many F1 personnel I spoke to at the weekend in Spa had something of a heavy heart about the punishing sequence of back to backs at the start and end of the season, with Australia and Malaysia linked up, as well as China and Bahrain Japan and Korea paired up, then India and Abu Dhabi and finally the US and Brazil.

There’s another back to back with Germany and Hungary, as has become the norm in recent years.

There will be a test, likely to be at the Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit in Italy on May 1st-3rd in the gap between Bahrain and Spain. This is a common sense solution, allowing teams some time to sort out any bugs and evaluate development parts for the European season.

The trade off for adding a test during the season is that there will be one less pre-season test, with three in Spain; Jerez (7-10 Feb), Barcelona 21-24 Feb & 1-4 March). There will also be a Young Guns test at the end of the season.

Teams producing a poor car out of the box will be under intense pressure with only 12 days of pre-season testing. Imagine the situation McLaren found itself in this year, needing to completely rework
its car with such limited test time!

2012 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar:
18/03 Australia
25/03 Malaysia
15/04 China
22/04 Bahrain
13/05 Spain
27/05 Monaco
10/06 Canada
24/06 Europe
08/07 Great Britain
22/07 Germany
29/07 Hungary
02/09 Belgium
09/09 Italy
23/09 Singapore
07/10 Japan
14/10 Korea
28/10 India
04/11 Abu Dhabi
18/11 United States
25/11 Brazil

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I’ve come back to this week old thread now because I have just read somewhere that the USA race is on the same day as some major NASCAR event.

Why would the FIA do this? Is it a failure to check or a deliberate move? Either way it seems like asking for a reduced audience, especially on tv in the USA.

Given the choice as a USA citizen would you rather go to an event you know and follow or pay three times the price to see a new formula?


reckon on €10/day for entry at preseason

free camping bes1de the circuit for motorhomes/caravans..take the barbie


The low attendances at Turkey have always confused me. Granted prices are expensive for the local population, but I never understood why there weren’t thousands of fans from other countries there: the race tickets, relative to places like Monza, Silverstone and Spa, were very cheap, and Istanbul is an amazing place to visit.

Am I right, James, that specators are normally welcome at the pre-season testing? That seems to be a particularly good way to get your F1 fix at affordable off-season prices.


That is correct yes. Prices are very reasonable at Jerez and Barcelona. Highly recommend it. Flights are cheap as are hotels. A very low cost way of seeing 100s of laps of prototype F1 cars and getting a sense of the season ahead


When are we supposed to learn which ten races the BBC will cover?


Turkey’s in Europe isn’t it?

No race puts me to sleep quicker (watching from Australia it’s a constant threat, with Euro races starting 10-11pm) than Valencia.

Would anybody miss Valencia apart from Bernie?

Bravo for Melbourne back to the head of the queue. Always great to see the cars for the first time at home.


Just noticed that Bahrain is back near the beginning of the schedule … so, we are going to go through all THAT again at the beginning of next year as well.


1. As ed24f1 above me has commented the Australian GP is a week earlier this season. This for me is an interesting one. In recent years the switch to a 5pm start local time has coincided with the race being held on the day the clocks go 1 hour forward in Europe. Thus, it amounts to a 7am start in the UK and 8am in Europe and this was done to bring the European viewers in. Now it falls before the clocks move forward – making it 7am in Europe and 6am in the UK. From a UK perspective, I don’t think you’d get massive audiences at 6am (the one hour from 6 to 7 could make quite a difference) and for me there is an argument to revert back to the 2pm local time/3am start – which may better suit Australians. However, 7am is probably okay for central Europe so I guess the current arrangement will stay – which is also not illogical I should add.

2. Turkey – yes it is a really good track but the track attendance has been very low and it does look like it’s day is done. I see Joe Saward has talked about them bidding for the 2020 Olympics, and how this potentially signifies a move away from F1.

3. Bahrain – this one will run and run I suspect. I think Bernie wanted to give it more time for solutions to the unrest (prefereably some sort of constitutional reform) and run it back-to-back with Abu Dhabi but this was meteorologically incompatible with India (who would have moved forwards as a result). This too would explain the India-Abu Dhabi back-to-back. If it becomes apparent the race can’t be run would Turkey get a temporary reprieve?

4. An interesting one to look out for in future is the potential sharing of the Belgian and French GPs. It would be nice to see France back on the calendar – it’s where grand prix racing started! However, it would be a shame to see Spa only come round every other year.


As a turkish f1 fan I m truely dissapointed that turkish gp is off the calender and hard to get it back. In turkey f1 is a new sport. It has been an interest in turkey since 1990s. and most of the fans are high school student, collgege students and new employees. considering wage of ticket it is impossible for a student to buy a ticket. it is more than half of their salary or pocket money. I have a lot of friends who want to go and see the race but cant do that because of the price. even me and my sister whose parent are high-paid civil engineers has issues to watch the race.

sorry for my english by the way.


Thanks for your comment


The best news for me in the calendar is that the Australian GP is one week earlier than the past few years.

This means they will avoid a likely clash with Round 1 of the Australian Rules, which is a big deal, as it drains much of F1’s media coverage and also forces fans to choose one or the other.


Holy crap *9* races all in september, October and November. that is a TIGHT schedule. In 1951, for example, there were only 8 races for the entire season!




Bahrain in, Turkey out … if only the F1 World Championship was about good racing …


James, how do they justify keeping Valencia on the calendar? does it make a lot of money. I know with the rise of Alonso Spain suddenly became the centre of F1 (or so they believe)but surely it is not sensible to have two Grand PRix in one country especially when one is on a dog of a circuit.


So a 19 race schedule then. No way is F1 returning to Bahrain.

Not fussed about Turkey being dropped, for all it’s hype it was as dull as the next Tilke design. Yes Turn 8 was impressive, but then so are a lot of corners on a lot of tracks that are no longer on the calander.


All in all a positive change I would say. Cannot believe we’re finishing a month before christmas. Fingers crossed one of the sponsors will be showing the whole season on FaceBook by the time it kicks off!!


At this stage the only thing that would make a calendar truly eye-catching to me would be a Ban on the horrendous tilke-dromes.

We have out there Jerez, Imola, Magny-Cours, Kyalami, Estoril, Fuji, Buenos Aries, Watkins Glen, Brands Hatch, Donnington, Zaandvoort, A1 ring, at least one of the German tracks every year, and dozens of others that are all BETTER tracks than these dull monstrosities.

Shame that all the countries with the big money to spend have absolutely no F1 tradition and no historic venues to develop. Unfortunately money doesn’t buy you memories, nor does it seem to be able to buy you an exciting, attractively located race in a place people are willing to go and see Grand Prixs.


If only we could vote with our money. It’d be great if we could pay by race, e.g. 5€/race. Boring race tracks will be punished. Great ones will (finally) become profitable.

I am happy to give 5€ to Spa if I can help them to become profitable. At present it is the government (read: the tax payer) who is subsidizing the F1 event in their country. There’s no such thing as free F1. I am willing to pay per race.


Well every race , including Spa or Monaco had a first race sometimes . So we need a good mix between tradition but also with new tracks , and maybe one of them will be a “historic venue” in 2030 . I think in middle term one of the races to be gone will be Hungary , not a great track , not an important country regarding the sponsorship , and i think the European GP will be alternatively in Turkey , France , Austria etc. from 2013 . And yes Kyalami has to return , World Championship without Africa ?


I take your point that every race had a “first race” at some point. But many of the great historic venues became such organically; that is to say there was local racing going on before the Championship started, or there was a real genuine groundswell of support in the region that meant that the racing at certain circuits had a great atmosphere.

The Tilke circuits are really track-design by numbers; with the exception of Turkey’s imaginatively named “Turn 8” they are all pretty bland. They are frequently built in countries where nobody cares about F1 except governments who want to make a good name for themselves.

Great race venues need tradition or culture as well as great circuits. A good example is Melbourne – new track, but the people love F1. Can you really say the same of China, Abu Dbahi, Bahrain when half the grandstands are empty?


Shame about losing the great Turkey track.

Also a shame that two of the tests are at the same track. I’m sure the teams would benefit from each test being at tracks with different characteristics.


Hi James,

Is there any chatter that the European GP will move somewhere else soon?

Hard to understand why Spa might go, but Valencia stays?




Valencia has a contract to run the race until 2014.


Drop Valencia (Europe) and give the teams some R & R.


James, can you tell us why the Asia Pacific races are split up at the start of the season and the end?

Does the change in seasons have anthing to do with it?

Being an Australian, I would love to be able to do a tour of just the Asia Pacific races.The way it is I could not justify the cost.


Europe’s weather is too unpredictable at those times of year….


Agree with all above re Turkey. Good course.

If F1 does not guard its history, it will pay in the end, as history defines!

‘Legacy’ tracks need to be identified, and protected. Perhaps Mr Bernie could buy them (as with Silverstone) and put then in trust, to protect F1 heritage, and leave a legacy far beyond the $ grab that he has helped make part of the current structure? Legacy tracks would then be a protected part of F1, with at least a portion of F1 ownership.

To my mind, the venues DEFINE the sport as much as do the teams. Drivers come and go, but try to imagine F1 without Ferrari, Spa, or Monaco. Look what happened to ‘Champ Car’ without Indy, and to the Indy Car series without Penske and Newman-Haas teams. Think it cannot happen to F1? Dont be delusional. When its not the same, it’s something different, unfortunately rarely better.


Running Brazil-USA-Canada back-to-back-to-back may sound like a good idea, but if the teams are complaining about back-to-back’s, how much would they complain about a 3fer. Taking out that option means that you have an odd number of races in the west so their will have to be two trips anyway. It doesn’t really make a difference if it’s US-Canada or US-Brazil but there’s always going to be an odd race out that requires a special trip – until they add a New York race to lump with Canada or a Mexico race to lump with Austin.


Also have to consider weather. When it’s not blisteringly hot in Austin, there’s a good chance it’s freezing cold in Montreal.


James, I don’t see a test at Mugello as a common sense solution, as it requires the teams to pack up and move to a new track, in effect making the 2012 calendar 21 venues. Given that testing is so limited these days, the traditional test teams are a thing of the past.

The real common sense solution would be to stay at a track for two or three days directly after a GP. This would massively cut costs for the teams, wear and tear on the personnel, and also allow the beleagured circuit owners to recover a little more revenue by selling test day tickets at $20 each. In fact you could run two tests, Barcelona and Silverstone, and not disrupt the schedule.


No. Why test AFTER the race? The teams are already at the track all day Friday; why not scrap the FP1 FP2 nonsense and make it a full day test session. Where, say, the first three hours (or last three hours) only reserve drivers are allowed to run


I don’t get the point of testing after a race… surely the new parts were already on the car for the race, right? Sure, it would give them some time to dial in the upgrades, but wouldn’t it make more sense to test on the Wednesday/Thursday before a weekend so the benefits could be applied for that weekend?

Testing after a race would only stand to improve the upgrades that are already on the car, and with the better part of two weeks to go before the next race, surely they’d have new parts by then, which would end up on the car untested.

I don’t see the point in testing like that. James, are there any advantages apart from simply improving the set-up of the car?


I believe testing after a race is quite valuable actually. The teams spend all weekend refining set-up so have an excellent baseline from which to judge new parts in the post race test.

With reference to the Abu Dhabi test that was after the last race, the main point of that was to test drivers and Pirelli tyres. The point of in-season post race testing is that it allows the teams to also try parts for the cars. There is limited value in doing this after the last race of the season has been run.

As Stuart pointed out, MotoGP have been doing this for a while and it works well – I just can’t understand why F1 hasn’t adopted it as well.


Cost mainly. It’s a bit misleading on tyres, but still most efficient way

Grayzee (Australia)

Interesting idea, Jon.

Test days at a circuit AFTER the race has been run. Does anyone know if the idea has been looked at in the past by the FIA?

Sounds feasable to me.


It used to happen in the 1990s at Suzuka and at Abu Dhabi last season


The most sensible solution would be to bring back the test days at Silverstone as it is less than 30 miles from the HQ of 8 of the 12 teams.


I agree. I know they had to cut costs when introducing the test ban but am glad they have now realised they cut too much. Good to see an in season test back on the agenda but why not have 18 races and allow 2-3 more tests after a GP weekend at the same venue.

Best value for money for the teams and fans, a GP weekend with 2 more days of cheaper testing makes a visit to a GP better value for money. Moto GP do this and seems the most logical way to maximise testing and not spend mega £££’s


Was hoping for Bahrain to be dropped and Turkey be kept.


Over saturation comes to mind, i found it difficult to fit life around all the races this year. Plus with the dilution of the coverage in the UK next year i suspect it will be easy to drift away and not worry too much about missing the odd race here and there in 2012. That’s from someone who has watched every live race without fail for as long as i can remember.


I used to complain about being in my time zone, where most GPs are at 8:00 am… but I actually like it, because the race is done by 10:00 AM and I can get on with my day.

I don’t have to interrupt my day by sitting there from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM and be forced to stay in the house on a lovely summer afternoon.


It is a shame about Turkey, which is the only circuit where I have watched a race live. The races are always quite good there as well.

I for one like more races and 21 would have been fine by me. I don’t understand why they take a test away from the pre-season because of the one added in May. If anything they should have more pre-season testing to allow the teams to properly get these multi-million dollar investments up to speed, especially for the back markers.


looking at distances on google earth, its interesting to note that the distance between Europe and Brazil is about 1000-1500 miles further than from Austin to Brazil. I know thats not taking into account the curvature of the earth and greater circles navigation but looking at flights, its generally and hour to hour and a half shorter to fly from Texas to Brazil than Europe. So they are saving thousands of pounds of jet fuel by this schedule.

Although I will admit I didnt go through every race doing the same thing to see if they didnt waste that much somewhere else due to the reshuffle.

Additionally, the Austin Bergstrom International airport got the international name because it accepts flights from DHL FEDEX and UPS from international destinations, and with the 12000ft runway 17R/35L from the old B52 bomber days when it was an airforce base it can land pretty much anything that gets sent over here. Also nice to note the track is about a 5 min drive from the airport, so not too far for the mega motorhomes to drive.

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