Brands Hatch circuit in Kent in the UK is one of the most popular British racetracks. It used to be a great circuit for Formula 1, with many incredible moments in its past. However, the sport hasn’t returned since 1986, leaving many fans wondering if Brands Hatch could ever host F1 again.
Brands Hatch could only host F1 again if it underwent major changes. Activity at the circuit is limited due to noise restrictions. On top of that, the circuit has become outdated for modern Formula 1 cars, and it would need a serious upgrade in order to be considered for F1 again.
Formula 1 fans have been asking for a return to the legendary Brands Hatch circuit for many years now. As much as drivers, teams and fans would love a return to the circuit, it’s unlikely to ever happen, and we go through all of the reasons this is the case below.
When Was The Last F1 Race At Brands Hatch?
The last Formula 1 race at Brands Hatch was in 1986. The race was a memorable one for the horrific crash that took place on the opening lap of the Grand Prix. French driver Jacques Laffite broke both legs during the crash, ending his Formula 1 career, and Silverstone has been used since.
Brands Hatch was a popular circuit among Formula 1 fans and drivers alike. The British Grand Prix would draw in thousands of spectators each year that it was hosted at Brands Hatch. Over the years, the Grand Prix at Brands Hatch had become a classic.
The Brands Hatch circuit would alternate with Silverstone each year to host the British Grand Prix. Whether the race was at Silverstone or Brands Hatch, Formula 1 fans would flock to the circuit for the race. However, Brands Hatch has not hosted another Grand Prix since 1986.
Why Did F1 Stop Racing At Brands Hatch?
F1 stopped racing at Brands Hatch for a number of reasons, namely the lack of runoff space, poor facilities compared with Silverstone, and noise limits in place at the circuit. The circuit is also an FIA Grade 2 circuit, and to host F1 races a circuit needs to have an FIA Grade of 1.
Despite being one of the most popular and loved circuits on the Formula 1 calendar, Brands Hatch has not returned to Formula 1 since 1986. There are several different reasons for this, and Laffite’s crash is not the reason the sport hasn’t returned.
As much as fans have been asking Formula 1 to return to the famous Brands Hatch circuit for future Grands Prix, it seems that it is highly unlikely that it would ever happen.
In the early 2000s there was a proposal in place that would have allowed Brands Hatch to return to the Formula 1 calendar again, alternating the British Grand Prix between Silverstone and Brands Hatch each year like they have done in the past. However, this never ended up happening.
One of the main reasons Formula 1 hasn’t returned to the Brands Hatch circuit is the noise restrictions that have been put in place. The local residents close to Brands Hatch have complained about the excessive noise that comes from the circuit over race weekends.
Back in the days the cars used massive V12 engines, which were notoriously loud. Following all of these complaints, noise restrictions were put in place which prevented the circuit from hosting Formula 1 races.
However, the current V6 engines are much quieter than their V12, V10 and V8 counterparts. Despite this, they may still exceed the noise limits that are in place at the Brands Hatch circuit. This makes it highly unlikely for us to see Formula 1 returning to Brands Hatch in the future.
Although the Brands Hatch circuit is not necessarily dangerous, it’s not exactly up to date in terms of safety standards either. Back in the days when Formula 1 used to race at Brands Hatch, the circuit used to be up Formula 1 safety standards, and there were no issues.
However, since losing the Formula 1 contract the circuit has not been updated to current Formula 1 standards. It’s an FIA Grade 2 standard circuit, meaning several safety measures would need to be implemented and a number of elements around the circuit would need to be changed to reach Grade 1. The main change that would be needed is at the pit entry, as the entry wall is in a dangerous section.
In modern Formula 1 the safety of the drivers and fans is top priority, so Formula 1 will never return to the circuit unless the necessary safety changes are made. In some cases, the circuit layout may need to change, gravel traps need to added, and barriers need to be replaced on a circuit in order to regain FIA Grade 1 standards. This costs a significant amount of money and time.
The size of the circuit may also be an issue when it comes to hosting Formula 1 races at Brands Hatch. Firstly, the pit lane is too narrow for Formula 1. F1 teams need a lot of space for their equipment, especially on the pit wall and in the pit lane itself. This is something that Brands Hatch would need to change before they could host a Formula 1 race again.
This is one of the reasons Silverstone had to change their layout and add a new pit building. The new pit lane has much more space and is more than suitable for Formula 1 teams to have all their equipment where it needs to be.
The problem here is that the Silverstone organizers have much more funding available to them which has allowed them to invest in such large upgrades over the years. Brands Hatch on the other hand is a much smaller circuit and would likely not be able to fund such an upgrade. Plus, it would be tough to convince fans, teams and drivers that Silverstone should give up the British GP!
Where Else Could F1 Host A British Grand Prix?
The British Grand Prix has always been a must-have venue on the Formula 1 calendar. The UK has always been one of the biggest fanbases for the sport, and having a British Grand Prix is therefore an absolute must in the future of Formula 1. Along with Italy, Britain is one of the only two countries to have held an F1 Grand Prix in every year since the first in 1950.
With the United States having two races in 2022, and other countries like Austria and Italy hosting multiple per year, British fans (and non-Britons alike) may soon be asking for a second British Grand Prix to be added to the calendar.
However, it seems as though a Brands Hatch Grand Prix is not likely to happen anytime soon. So where else could a potential second British Grand Prix take place? There have been a few different names thrown around in the past, but not many of them are realistic options. But let’s take a look at a few that could theoretically hold an F1 race in the future.
Donington Park is another fantastic British racing circuit. With sweeping fast corners and a flowing layout, this track is ideal for Formula 1 cars. Modern Formula 1 cars would breeze through it though with the huge amount of downforce they are able to produce.
Formula 1 has raced at Donington Park before, very successfully too! If you’re not familiar with Donington Park, it played host to what was arguably the greatest opening lap in the history of Ayrton Senna’s Formula 1 career.
In 1993 Ayrton Senna went from fifth place to leading the race in a few corners while in torrential rain. The Brazilian legend overtook some notable names including Schumacher, Prost, and Hill, all within half a lap. This means the circuit holds a firm place in the hearts of many F1 fans.
The circuit could potentially host a Grand Prix in the future, however it is also currently only an FIA Grade 2 circuit, so it would require some major upgrades to host F1. Other than an investment and some upgrades, the circuit could host a Grand Prix in the future.
London Street Race
Rumors of a street race in London have been floating around for years. Formula 1 has hosted several road shows in London, and the turnout from the fans is always great. There have been plans to develop a street circuit in London, but it has not happened yet.
While the idea seemed good, and it got a lot of fans and drivers excited, the plans have never really come together. This probably has a lot to do with the regulations within London’s city center in terms of carbon emissions and noise restrictions.
While this would likely be an incredible event, we may never see it happen in the future. Permanent F1 circuits are also usually favored over new street circuits.
Thruxton is an incredibly fast circuit in the UK. In fact, it is the fastest circuit in the country, and in the junior formulae it is where the best drivers are separated from the rest. The speed of this circuit would make a Formula 1 race incredibly exciting to watch.
However, the circuit would still need many upgrades in terms of safety and track layout. It’s currently nowhere close to hosting a Grand Prix, as it’s only FIA Grade 3. Thruxton is a racetrack that draws in massive crowds even with junior single seater cars, and while this means that a Formula 1 race could draw in thousands of spectators too, it’s highly unlikely to happen any time soon.
F1 could race at Brands Hatch if the circuit was upgraded to an FIA Grade 1 circuit, as it’s currently only FIA Grade 2. However, changing the track’s layout, facilities and safety measures would only be part of the problem, as it would also need to compete with Silverstone to host a British GP.