Why is there no Scandinavian F1 GP?

"It would be cool for the sport if we can have a race in northern Europe"

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By Olivier Ferret

28 January 2020 - 14:11
Why is there no Scandinavian F1 (...)

While the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland all have talented Formula drivers, there is currently no F1 grand prix course in any of these countries. It seems odd, as various forms of racing, including Rally, offroad, and sports car racing are all popular within Scandinavia.

Formula One is a massive, multi-billion dollar industry, and hosting countries spend nearly a hundred million dollars annually on Grand Prix events. The Formula One Grand Prix attracts legions of motorsport fans, and Scandinavia is no exception.

Yet there hasn’t been a Formula One GP event hosted in Scandinavia since 1978, when Sweden hosted the World Championship at the Scandinavian Raceway in Anderstorp. There’s a large number of companies based in Sweden that would probably support events if one ever did come to be, such as Volvo, the famous car company, and perhaps Casumo, an online casino in Sweden that supports other sports throughout Europe.

In this article, we’re going to dive a bit into the curious lack of Formula One GP in Scandinavia.

Decades ago, tragedy in Sweden shaped the future

In 1978, Swedish Formula One drivers Ronnie Peterson and Gunnar Nilsson both died, which hurt the popularity of the sport. Ronnie Peterson died due to injuries from a horrific crash during the 1978 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Gunnar Nilsson died just five weeks after, after being a pallbearer at Ronnie Peterson’s funeral, due to cancer.

The loss of these two Swedish racing legends led to a sharp decline in enthusiasm for Formula One in Sweden, and the 1979 Grand Prix in Sweden was cancelled due to lack of funding. In fact, there were no Swedish drivers in any of the 1979 Grand Prix races. The only driver to represent any Scandinavian country at the 1979 Grand Prix races was Keke Rosberg, from Finland, who actually went one to win the 1982 Formula One World Championship.

The cost of hosting a modern F1 Grand Prix event

While decades ago Formula One may have been an enthusiast hobby, today it has wide mainstream appeal across the globe, thanks to strong marketing and revenue. The cost of building an FIA-approved F1 circuit, and hosting an F1 Grand Prix event, is fairly astronomical for a once-a-year event.

Currently, nearly all F1 events are sponsored by either government, giant corporations, or both. It’s no secret that Formula One is a massive moneyhouse, and in fact, all 12 F1 teams are worth a combined $4.05 billion, according to Forbes.

To host a Grand Prix, not only must the track be approved for an F1 event, according to FIA safety and design regulations, but accommodations and facilities are also important. A Grand Prix circuit must be able to host not only the race itself, but hundreds of thousands of attendees. Thus, hotels and entertainment must also be constructed near the circuit.

The average cost of building a Formula One circuit from scratch, including earthworks and infrastructure, amounts to around $270 million. Annual maintenance and event hosting fees are around $70 million, so overall, the 10-year running cost of a Grand Prix circuit is nearly $1 billion.

This is for a basic circuit, of course, and not including frills like the marina and high-tech hotels in Abu Dhabi. Even classic, fan-loved tracks like the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, have had difficulty in coming up with the required funds on an annual basis.

Swedish Formula One driver Marcus Ericsson gave an interview to Autosport in 2016, wherein he shared his thoughts on the possibility of a Grand Prix hosted in Scandinavia:

"I don’t see it happening for a long time but it would be cool for the sport if we can have a race in northern Europe. We have Swedes, Finns [in F1] and a lot of tradition for motorsport in Scandinavia.

So to have a race there would be very, very good and I think a lot of people would watch it. As it is now, the money it costs to do a race, I don’t see a country like Sweden will have the money. But I think for sure, there would be great interest for it."

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