Could Sweden's New Viking Motor Park Host a Swedish Grand Prix?
The last Swedish Grand Prix was almost 40 years ago. It's about time it returns.
The last time the Swedish Grand Prix was held was in 1978—the year after the first Star Wars film was released. The race is but a distant memory for even the oldest surviving Formula One drivers, such as Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda. Over the years, the races of the Formula One calendar have migrated away from classic European venues such as Imola, Jerez, and the Nürburgring, with some smaller races such as the Swedish GP at Scandinavian Raceway (now Anderstorp Raceway) falling by the wayside too. Many have been replaced with competition at modern, safer circuits in places like Abu Dhabi, Russia, and Azerbaijan.
Some of these circuits, unpopular with viewers and drivers, have garnered the Tilkedrome label—derived from the name of Hermann Tilke, an engineer who designed several modern circuits at which Formula One races. The circuits he has designed are known for uninspiring layouts, flat features, vast runoff areas, and dull corners. Veteran Formula One drivers Sir Jack Stewart and Mark Webber criticized the tolerance that Tilke's tracks have for mistakes, and 1980 F1 WDC Alan Jones called Tilke's tracks "boring."
But that could change. Viking Motor Park, a Swedish racing venue planned for construction in Enköping, is hinting at aspirations of hosting a new Swedish Grand Prix. The track itself has not yet been built, though the project's backers appear serious about the project according to their public timeline, which was last updated approximately 18 months ago, announcing that the title for the land the track is to be built on has been acquired. The circuit's website claims that the proposed race track will be certified as FIA Grade One, which means the FIA has deemed the track safe for racing any class of vehicle.
Hosting a Grand Prix is not as simple as building a track and making a couple calls to the FIA, however. If Enköping's infrastructure is not up to the task of hosting a race (one which tens to hundreds of thousands of people may travel to see, no less), then the dreams of the Grand Prix may progress no further. It is also phenomenally expensive to host a Grand Prix, with omnipresent classics such as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza almost failing to come up with the funds required in recent years.
One of the biggest problems, however, can be seen from the provided picture of the track from the project's website—to this author's eyes, the track looks like another Tilkedrome. Hermann Tilke has not been asked to put his paws on this track, so the name may be unfitting, but no elevation change can be discerned from the provided picture.
If the Swedish Grand Prix at Viking Motor Park is to become a reality, many additional hurdles will need to be jumped, the first of which is the by far the greatest: The track needs to exist. With Malaysia announcing it will no longer be hosting its own Grand Prix, however, there just might be calendar space for Sweden to butt its way in.