The Formula One 2015 Season is on!
Races organised by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), where the ‘Formula’ in Formula One refers to the set of rules or formulas which the participants’ cars must comply.
Each F1 season consists of a series of races known as Grand Prix, French for Great Prize. The races are held on different cities worldwide on venues or tracks called circuits.
Racers and constructors vie for the championship crown in 20 cities worldwide.
For this 3-part feature, let us look into the host cities and the circuits that will be used throughout the races for this season.
01: Australian Grand Prix
Circuit : Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Albert Park
Schedule : March 13 – 15, 2015
The Australian Grand Prix 2015 is hosted by the city of Melbourne. Their tagline is ‘a great place for the race’ and Melbourne’s vibrant and outdoorsy lifestyle perfectly fits that. The circuit that will be used is the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Albert Park.
The Australian Grand Prix originally started in Adelaide in 1985. In 1992, Jeff Kennett was elected premier of the State of Victoria. Kennett wanted to improve Melbourne’s profile and hosting the Australian Grand Prix was his top priority. Kennett worked with Ron Walker, a Melbourne businessman, and in 1993 an agreement was reached with Formula One to hold the races in Melbourne. A circuit was developed in Melbourne’s Albert Park built around the park’s man-made lake and in 1996 the first race was held in Melbourne. The Melbourne circuit is open to the public during Grand Prix off-season.
02: Malaysian Grand Prix
Circuit : Sepang International Circuit
Schedule : March 27 – 29, 2015
Malaysia was first included in the F1 World Championship in 1999. This was due in part on Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s ‘Vision 2020‘ for Malaysia which aims to make the country fully-modernised and industrialised by year 2020. Dr. Mahathir believed that one way to make Malaysia industrialised is via auto trade. Petronas, the nation’s top oil company, began investing in Formula One with Sauber; while Proton, Malaysia’s national car company, bought Lotus Engineering.
Designed by Hermann Tilke, a German designer who also designed other facilities in other countries, Mahathir directed that a circuit be constructed to be world-class in terms of facilities and technology.
To complete the plan, a multimedia ‘supercorridor’ which links Kuala Lumpur International Airport with Sepang and the capital city was also built. The result is the Sepang International Circuit which opened in 1999. Its combination of long high-speed straights and tight twisting complexes makes it one of the most technical and complicated circuits on the calendar.
Malaysia’s fascinating mix of urban and rural charm and unique Asian culture makes it a unique experience for Formula One.
03: Chinese Grand Prix
Circuit : Shanghai International Circuit
Schedule : April 10 – 12, 2015
Shanghai is China’s economic shop window. The city is one of the wealthiest city in the world, boasting a double-digit growth for more than a decade. The increased wealth and development ushered in the Chinese Grand Prix which debuted in 2004.
The Chinese Grand Prix is currently held at the Shanghai International Circuit (Shànghǎi Guójì Sàichēchǎng) in Jiading, Shanghai. The circuit was completed in 2004 at the cost of $240 million making it one of the most expensive circuits in F1 history.
The track was designed by renowed circuit architects Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl, boasting 5.451 kilometers of the trickiest corners and combinations in F1 racing. The shape of circuit is inspired by the Chinese character ‘shang’ (上) meaning ‘above’ or ‘ascend’. The circuit’s architecture also reflect other elements in Chinese history such as the team buildings arranged like pavilions in a lake similar to the ancient Yuyan-Gardens in Shanghai.
Aside from the racing circuit, Shanghai also improved their transportation infrastructure to provide easy access to the venues for the spectators. Shanghai’s Oriental charm, world class facilities and economic power makes it a great city for hosting the F1.
04: Bahrain Grand Prix
Circuit : Bahrain International Circuit
Schedule : April 17 – 19, 2015
The Bahrain Grand Prix first took place on April 04, 2004. It is the first ever F1 Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East.
Bahrain International Circuit, once again designed by Hermann Tilke, is located in Sakhir 30 km from the capital city of Manama. It features six separate tracks including a test oval and a drag strip. The circuit is first-rate with some of the best facilities for spectators, media and participants alike.
Being in the desert, the circuit posed a unique problem. The desert sand could blow onto the circuit and disrupt the race. The organisers however were able to keep the sand off by spraying an adhesive around the track. Although alcoholic beverages are legal in Bahrain, as a nod to the Islamic country, the winners do not spray champagne. They use Waard instead which is a traditional, non-alcoholic drink made from rosewater and pomegranates. The sun, the sand and the unique Arabian culture makes the Bahrain Grand Prix an enchanting event.
05: Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit : Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya
Schedule : May 08 – 10, 2015
The old, Gothic city of Barcelona is no stranger to the F1 races; being the host of the Spanish Grand Prix since 1913. This year’s venue is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The circuit was built in 1991 in Montmeló, Barcelona and began hosting the Spanish Grand Prix on that same year. It is located outside the city and can be accessed via car or train.
06: Monaco Grand Prix
Circuit : Circuit de Monaco
Schedule : May 21 – 24, 2015
The Monaco Grand Prix is perhaps the race that every driver dreams of winning. To win in Monaco elevates a driver’s name on the roster of history’s greatest. The race also exhibits the speed, glamour and passion of Monaco.
Unlike in other cities where there is a dedicated structure for the racing circuit, the Circuit de Monaco is laid out on the city streets of Monte Carlo. It is assembled for six weeks and then dismantled for three weeks. It circles around the harbour and consist of streets and tunnels with narrow, tight corners and challenging elevation shifts. The circuit leaves no margin for error, demanding a combination of precision, concentration and technical prowess from the driver in order to win. The cars skirts the barriers and danger is ever present on those narrow roads. To increase space in the circuit, land was reclaimed from the harbour in 2002. In 2009, the circuit was voted top of the ‘Seven Sporting Wonders Of The World’.
The first race in Monaco was held on April 14, 1929 organised by Antony Noghès. It has continued ever since with many improvements along the way. Truly, the Monaco Grand Prix is an exceptional battle and show of prestige.
Head off to Part 2 and Part 3.