F1 Street Tracks Trend 2023 Miami Grand Prix
Image credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Street Tracks Trend: Classic Circuit To Dissappear From Offical Games?

F1 23

Shortly after announcing the move from Catalunya to Madrid, rumors of another F1 street track joining the calendar are circulating. The possible Chicago circuit could spell bad news for real-life Formula One fans as well as for the EA Sports game series.

There are certain icons in any sport that are simply immovable objects, and racing is no different. Sometimes, there are even multiple examples. IndyCar’s crown jewel races include the Indy 500, Long Beach and Road America. NASCAR would be unthinkable without Daytona, Talladega or Charlotte. The same goes for the World Rally Championship and Rally Finland or Rally Monte Carlo.

Formula One has more than one of these icons, too. There is the undisputed trademark at Monaco, although the races themselves tend to be rather uninspiring these days. The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is almost as legendary. Silverstone has a comparable status for the British Grand Prix. And who could forget the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on their list of the F1 Icons Trifecta?

F1 Street Tracks: Chicago Could Be Next

Well, it would seem that the latter might not be around too much longer. Rumors of this are nothing new, but Spa has reportedly inked a deal to host F1 until 2025. The classic Ardennes circuit is a favorite of both drivers and fans, being extremely challenging and spectacular at the same time.

However, shortly after the news of a Madrid street circuit replacing Barcelona-Catalunya as the Spanish Grand Prix venue was met with little enthusiasm from fans, the next track of this kind seems to be waiting in the wings. Reportedly, F1 is flirting with the idea of hosting yet another street race, this time in Chicago. This would make it the fourth Grand Prix in the United States, should the current US races at COTA, Miami and Las Vegas stay on the calendar.

As the schedule is already near the limit of what is possible at 24 races, another event being on the chopping block would seem likely. As Spa only received one-year contract extensions in recent years, it could be a candidate to meet said chopping block.

F1 Street Tracks In The US: Not The First Foray

This, in turn, would mean that once this change takes place, the official F1 game would lose a classic circuit. In its place would be yet another modern street track. Looking towards 2026, there would be six of these that joined the calendar since Liberty Media took over the reigns.

Of course, F1 is a business first and foremost, and pretending it is too focused on money only since Liberty Media came in would simply be ignorant. It has always been a sport for those with big bank accounts, and it is not even the first time there were multiple street circuits in the US. In fact, the 1984 season even had two consecutive Stateside street races, with the Dallas Grand Prix following the Detroit Grand Prix in the middle of the year.

Multiple Alternatives

What makes this current street circuit craze so frustrating from a racing fan’s perspective, however, is that there are so many circuits out there that would be worthy of hosting a GP. Sure, it may be idealistic, but venues such as Mugello, Portimão, Hockenheim or the Nürburgring would be much more popular in many fans’ book.

In fact, when Red Bull brought multiple older F1 cars to the Red Bull Formula event happening alongside the NLS 12 Hours in September 2023, the ‘Ring was absolutely packed with fans – even more so than for the actual endurance race that weekend.

Formula One cars still draw people to the Nürburgring, as Red Bull Formula Nürburgring 2023 impressively showed. Image credit: Philip Platzer / Red Bull Content Pool

Then you have the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit, which is still hoping to make its return after last hosting F1 in 1993. It would also be the only race held in Africa, the only continent not currently on the calendar. From 1967 to 1985, Kyalami was among the most popular races each season.

Plus, there is a certain irony in this quest for making Formula One an enormous deal in the United States. Four races, three on them on uninspired street circuits? Sure, no problem. But arguably the biggest name in US racing in Andretti, backed by one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world in General Motors? No, thank you, “we do not believe that the applicant would be a competitive participant.”

F1 Street Tracks: Show Over Racing?

Should the trend indeed continue, it would be reflected in the EA Sports F1 series, too. Players would get to race at less iconic venues and more very similar street circuits. Newcomers in particular might miss out on great circuits in favor of tracks that are surely challenging and spectacular in some cases, but also sometimes appear to treat the racing aspect of the actual event as a bit of a side note. And that is not what the pinnacle of motorsport should be about, in the author’s humble opinion.

It is also not the case that street circuits are bad per se. Tracks like Adelaide (particularly in its longer layout used in 2000), Long Beach or, to add a more modern example, Baku show that the opposite is true. And even the new breed of street circuits may be fun to drive in games and sims – but them potentially coming in at the expense of a classic venue is a bitter pill to swallow.

Luckily, sim racers can create their own calendars in other titles quite easily. If you think 24 races are too many, you can run a championship on a smaller calendar just as well. Want to substitute a track or two? There is nothing stopping you from doing just that in Assetto Corsa or rFactor 2.

Not Everything Was Better “Back In My Day”, Either

Most F1 fans are not hardcore sim racers, though, so their main point of contact would be the official F1 game. The thought of a new generation growing up on these games and possibly not learning about the icons that made the sport what it is today is weird, to say the least.

I realize that this article may feel like “back in my day, everything was better”. That certainly is not the intention, even though F1 was much more appealing to me personally. Even in the much-revered V10 era, there were some headscratchers, like 2005’s rule that a tire set had to last for the full race or the road course configuration of Indianapolis from 2000 to 2007.

Everyone’s opinion is different, of course. Maybe you agree, maybe you think that the schedule and its development is fine as it is. Feel free to share your ideal F1 schedules in the comments or tell us your opinion on Twitter @OverTake_gg!

Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia. I have been working in sim racing since 2021 after previously working with pro and amateur sports teams and athletes for a daily newspaper in Wolfsburg. Nothing gets me more excited than motor racing, especially with the beastly machines of the past. A third pedal and h-shifter are not just options for a rig, they are mandatory to me. Avid fan of the IndyCar series (modern and CART/pre-split).