2018 Formula 1 calendar: The stories behind the schedule and dates
F1's first triple header...Returning to France...Indy 500 clash...No Silverstone clash...Singapore and China in doubt..
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 20/06/17 3:07pm
Triple headers, returning historic tracks and sporting clashes are some of the standout headlines from the 2018 calendar.
Here, Sky F1 looks at the stories behind the FIA's release of next year's 21-race schedule.
A hectic summer: Five races in six weeks!
The most eye-catching set of dates from the 2018 calendar is clear: For the first time ever, Formula 1 is set for a triple header.
The returning French GP kick-starts three races in as many weeks as the European season starts in earnest following a Canadian getaway. What's more, there will also be five races in six weeks before the August break with the German GP also squeezed back into a true summer of speed.
Paul Ricard, Spielberg, Silverstone, Hockenheim and Budapest offer fast, furious, and contrasting F1 experiences, and there'll be no time to rest.
Teams may rightly claim it's a logistical nightmare and drivers will undoubtedly be pushed to the limit of their mental and physical abilities - but there's nothing more frenetic than back-to-back, or in this case back-to-back-to-back, grands prix. The bumper schedule, however, was challenged when then F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone floated the triple-header idea back in 2009.
"With three back-to-back races, personally, I feel it is too much for Formula 1," said Jenson Button at the time.
Bienvenue, Paul Ricard
While trips to Mexico City and Baku have been warmly welcomed in recent years, the return of one of Europe's most famous racetracks is a treat for the F1 paddock and fans alike.
France was where it all started - hosting the first ever Grand Prix in 1906 - and though Magny-Cours graced the championship as recently as 2008, Paul Ricard hasn't been spotted in the sport, testing aside, since 1990.
Of course, much can change at a notoriously flat, high-speed circuit in 18 years, and the memorable 1.8km Mistral straight will now be interrupted by a single chicane - presenting drivers with another overtaking opportunity. Le Castellet gives Renault and Esteban Ocon a true home race and, although it takes place just four weeks after the nearby Monaco GP, that shouldn't dampen local interest in any way.
2018 F1 calendar
|June 24||Le Castellet||France|
|July 8||Silverstone||Great Britain|
|October 28||Mexico City||Mexico|
|November 11||Sao Paolo||Brazil|
|November 25||Yas Marina||Abu Dhabi|
|*Subject to approval|
Germany, a more consistent presence on the calendar, is also back on F1's travel guide after missing 2017. Due to financial constraints, Hockenheim can only host races on a biennial basis after the collapse of the circuit's race-share agreement with the Nurburgring, and it could be a pivotal race for Hockenheim as it enters its final year of an F1 contract. Race organisers will, therefore, hope for more than the paltry 57,000 race-day attendance of last season.
No World Cup clash
Whether it be boxing, football, tennis, cricket or golf, the British GP usually clashes with at least one major event on a consistently epic weekend of sport.
However, while many tournaments and match schedules have yet to be announced, the Silverstone race (July 8) is already confirmed to be taking place the weekend before the Wimbledon men's final and the World Cup final in Russia (both July 15).
Bad news for Fernando?
Fernando Alonso's presence on next season's grid is far from a sure thing but if the Spaniard is there, he will have to miss the Monaco GP for the second year in a row if he is to replicate his Indianapolis 500 attempt in 2018. Two of motorsport's most famous races are once again set to clash on Sunday May 27.
There is some good news for Alonso, and indeed anyone else who wishes to try their hands at another form of racing, however. One of Alonso's main reasons for competing in Indy was his desire to win the 'triple crown' of motorsport - that is winning the 500, the Monaco GP and the Le Mans 24 Hours. And, just like this year, the epic Le Mans race avoids an F1 clash, with the 2018 event taking place on June 16/17.
The air miles rack up...
Sure - a triple header and five races and six weeks is challenging for any team when it comes to logistics. But yo-yoing between Europe and Asia for an Italy-Singapore-Russia-Japan stretch will also be fairly demanding!
Why the asterisks?
This was no provisional 2018 calendar, with the FIA agreeing on the 2018 calendar at a World Motorsport Council meeting in Geneva. There were, however, asterisks on two events. The official reasoning for these question marks over races in China and Singapore were that they were 'subject to commercial rights holder confirmation', meaning they have not completed deals over a contract with the F1 Group.
Singapore is perhaps the more valued of the two, being F1's first and most prestigious night race. Given its success, it was a surprise to see Bernie Ecclestone claim in November of last year that the 2017 race would be the city-state's last as the contract drew to a close, though F1's new chairman Chase Carey is optimistic that a deal will be struck for 2018 and beyond. Malaysia has dropped off the 2018 calendar with prices rising and crowds dropping, but attracting an audience has never been a problem in nearby Singapore.
As for China, a huge market for the sport and its manufacturers, race organisers are similarly hopeful that its contract will be extended. Liberty Media and Carey have frequently insisted they want to grow F1 in Asia, so dropping the 2018 races in China, and especially Singapore after losing Malaysia, would be odd to say the least.
One step at a time
This may be the first full season under Liberty Media's control, but it should come as no surprise that their plans for 'destination city' races haven't materialised just yet. The French and German races were already confirmed for 2018 under Ecclestone's tenure, after all.
Carey wants F1 weekends to be "like Super Bowls" in the future and there have already been rumours about a returning Turkish GP as well as races in New York and Las Vegas.
We're back up to 21 races from 19 for 2018 - and a 25-race calendar may not be too far away.
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