Canceled Grand Prix: boycott races in Formula 1

Canceled Grands Prix
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A said Grand Prix are not uncommon in history. Every now and then the organizer could not raise the required entry fee and was thrown off the calendar. In the early years of Formula 1 there were regular cancellations.

In 1955, the sport was on the brink of collapse when Pierre Levegh's Mercedes flew into the audience at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, killing 82 spectators. As a result, Switzerland, Germany and Spain canceled their Grand Prix events.

Switzerland and temporarily also Sweden banned circuit racing completely from 1956. The US automobile club AAA no longer hosted motor sport events. The USAC did its job for the Indianapolis formula and the SCCA for sports car races.

Drivers boycott spa

In the mid-1960s, people began to worry about safety. The drivers no longer wanted to risk their lives in ever faster cars on racetracks from the Stone Age. The track owners, on the other hand, wanted to invest as little as possible. Safety cost money.

As the first course, the drivers had Spa-Francorchamps in their sights. The 14.1 kilometer long monster had claimed too many victims. In the rain, the ultra-fast route was a suicide mission. When the number of deaths increased in 1968, the drivers dared a first uprising.
Spa-Francorchamps was one of the more dangerous racetracks.

They wrested the promise from the organizer in Belgium that if it rains on the day of the race, the start will be different by an hour, and then the slope should still be wet to arrange a single start with 10 seconds difference between the individual participants. It would then have been the only Grand Prix that would have been held on a time basis based on the model of the Targa Florio. The weather god spared themFormula 1 from this experience. On Sunday the sky over the Ardennes was overcast, but it stayed dry.

But that was just the beginning. Only a year later there was no Belgian GP. The drivers asked for guard rails on the outside of the most dangerous corners. When Jackie Stewart inspected the course on behalf of the GPDA driver community in April, he found that not a single one of the required measures had been met. Thereupon the English and Italian teams declared their solidarity with their drivers and withdrew their entries.

Those responsible at Spa had an understanding for 1970. Guard rails lined the course in the Ardennes. The Malmedy Passage was defused by a chicane. Bright sunshine made discussions about delaying the start or even canceling it unnecessary. The drivers had threatened the organizer with this in the event of rain. He therefore set 1 p.m. as the first start time in order to have some air to the rear. It was still the last Grand Prix on the old Spa circuit. Chris Amon had set the fastest lap with an average of 245.439 km /h. Guard rails were no longer a guarantee of survival either.

Only the trees got thicker

A year later, the Nürburgring was to hit. Three weeks before the German GP in 1970, Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill visited the Eifel piste. They presented the organizer with an 18-point plan for more safety. The demands could not be met in the short time. Because the drivers threatened to boycott, the AvD had to remove the Nordschleife from the event calendar.

The GP convoy moved to Hockenheim without further ado. After Jim Clark's fatal accident two years earlier, the 6.789 kilometer long runway had been completely framed with guard rails and provided with two braking curves on the long straight forest. Jackie Stewart asked the militant Nürburgring supporters heretically: “What has changed on the ring since 1950? Nothing. Only the trees got thicker. “
Start of the GP Germany 1970 in Hockenheim: Jo Siffert (left, March 701), Jochen Rindt(Middle, Lotus 72C), Jacky Ickx (right, Ferrari 312B)

In 1971 the Nürburgring presented itself in a new form. Still 22.835 kilometers long, still a ride on the razor blade, still an endless ups and downs. Instead, with fall areas, crash barriers and safety fences instead of trees, hedges or ditches to the left and right of the route, straightened curves, worn crests and a new one Asphalt. The correction cost 6.5 million marks at the time. It lasted five years. Then the Nürburgring would have had to spend a lot more money to keep the track suitable for Formula 1.

Heat in Spa is softening asphalt

The Belgian GP was originally supposed to be in 1985 take place on June 2nd. But the race was canceled on Saturday evening at 7.30 p.m. A freshly laid asphalt could not withstand the concentrated force of 21,000 hp. The organizer had the track surface renewed for the equivalent of 6 million euros in order to guarantee better drainage when it rains.

Due to bad weather, the renovation work was only completed ten days before the race. Unfortunately, there were tropical temperatures in Spa on the first weekend in June, which meant that the not yet solidified tar layer softened. Even after Friday practice, the track was a patchwork.

Improvement work during the night didn't help much. After just 25 minutes on Saturday, the asphalt cracked again. The drivers went on strike. They also stayed tough when the organizer promised more work on the track the night before the race. Bad promises had been had bad experiences in 1973 in Zolder and 1984 in Dallas. It was explained to the spectators that the Grand Prix on Sunday would take place as planned despite the cancellation of the second qualifying session.

It was hoped that the drivers would still change their minds. For free. In order not to disappoint the audience on Sunday, at least the Formula 3000 was sent out on the track. The much weaker cars also dug deep furrows in the pavement. The FIA ​​was lenient. The Belgian GP was allowed to make a second attempt for a fine of $ 10,000. The race has been postponed to September 15th.

With the cancellation, Michele Alboreto lost a good opportunity to extend his championship lead. The Ferrari driver was on pole position for the race in June, ahead of Elio de Angelis, Ayrton Senna, Patrick Tambay and Stefan Johansson. At the catch-up date in September, Alboreto was the first retirement. After three laps, the clutch burned out. Ayrton Senna won the race, which partly took place in the rain.

The first political cancellation

The GP Bahrain 2011 was the only race so far that was canceled for political reasons. The Arab Spring had also arrived in the kingdom in the Arabian Gulf. After deaths occurred in protest marches in Manama on February 17th,the teams organized in FOTA and the FIA ​​discussed the cancellation of the season opener, relocation to another location or postponing the race to October.

The decision-makers were under time pressure. Test drives on the Sakhir route were due to take place in early March. Since the unrest in the country did not want to end and several countries had advised against traveling to Bahrain, Crown Prince Salman al Khalifa was officially rejected. On February 21, it was official: The 2011 season opener would not take place in Bahrain, but in Australia.


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