An F1 season with just 8 non-race weekends

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“It may be taken for granted that, rash as the Americans are,

when they are prudent there is good reason for it.”

Bernie Ecclestone has been fighting losing battles for the best part of a year. The F1 supremo favours a change in the engine regulations and such is his level of frustration at failing to deliver agreement on this he accused Toto Wolff of “killing F1”.

However, at least today’s big news will give Bernie some comfort that he retains absolute control in certain areas of the sport. Andrew Westacott, the CEO of the company which promotes the Australian GP told Motorsport.com, “It’s an FOM decision to commence the whole season on the date that they’ve proposed, and as default result of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation having the rights to first race, when the season starts, we’ll have our race – and it just so happens that it’s April 3 this year.”

Much has already been written about the motive behind this. Condensing the season means more back to back races, which reduces transportation costs. A significant number of the race weekend team personal travelled back to Europe following the Melbourne and Malaysian events, only to return a few days later to Asia.

Ecclestone has been forced by the new FIA regulation on start times to schedule some of the Eastern races earlier than he would have liked This means the core TV audience in Europe is now having to get up earlier to watch the races live – which for some is a disincentive.

Ironically, to comply with the start time regulation which insists a non-floodlit race starts at least four hours before sunset, Australia next year will have to be moved forward an hour to 3pm local time.

Westcott appears quietly content with this implication. “I’m pretty relaxed by that, because I think it will be great for fans locally, great for fans in Asia, and great for those who wake up for the start of the season in Europe.”

The promoter of the Malaysian GP also was positive about the local effect of an earlier start in Sepang this year. For F1 promoters, the logistics of getting people away from an event at a reasonable time is very important and this week’s debate about later start times in Europe to suit the TV audience will not have gone down well with those organising the races.

Back to backing Melbourne, Malaysia and China makes sense from a logistical perspective but TJ13 has learned there was another consideration behind this move.

The F1 season is a long and drawn out affair, beginning in mid-March and now ending the last weekend of November. This year the 19 races span 37 weeks including the four week August break.

In contrast, this year’s Indycar schedule sees 16 races, conducted between March 29th and August 30th. There are just 15 venues and the Detroit weekend has 2 championship races on consecutive days, all of which means the season is just 22 weeks long.

Indycar have played with their season scheduling over the years. Starting as early as the last week of January and ending the same year in October. They have recently settled on a very compact season – which in 2015 offers races for the fans every weekend bar six from the start to the end of the annual competition.

This kind of tight season schedule builds momentum quickly with the TV audience, Indy car started this year with 4 races in 5 weekends.

TJ13 sources reveal FOM to be keen on an annual schedule of F1 events which delivers many more back to back weekends over the course of the season and is even looking to trade this kind of schedule in return for a cancelation of the current August break.

A tighter season schedule is better for race team employee’s personal lives in terms of disruption, and this may be the trade-off made for axing the current August mandatory holiday.

In 2016, barring any more races being dropped, there will be 21 F1 events with the return of the German GP and the inaugural race in Azerbaijan.

How would you – the TJ13 readers – build a ‘doable’ condensed F1 race schedule for 2016?

You must consider matters like criss crossing the globe, the local climate and extreme weather seasons – which since the Bianchi report, the FIA expect to be accommodated.

The TJ13 team believe this can be reasonably done with just 8 non-race weekends.

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18 responses to “An F1 season with just 8 non-race weekends

  1. If you wanted to make it compact, then I would guess you’d need to change the layout of the race weekends themselves – All Practise sessions on Saturday and support races alongside other entertainment for the fans that attend the races, Quali and Race on the Sunday, if things go wrong on a car on the Sunday then I guess that adds a bit of spice to the pre race shows “Will they make it onto the grid ?” instead of the usual babble of “X driver is in the groove, Y driver is rubbish”.

  2. This means the off season is a lot longer and I don’t know if the hardcore fans can survive such a long off season… ;-P

  3. All that will give time to the other engine manufacturers work a bit longer in the off-season to catch up to Merc.

    And if the experiment works for 2016, then the off-season can be even longer prior to 2017 which will give plenty of time for Audi/Bentley/Lambo/Porche to prepare… 😉

  4. I’m not a fan of the thought of an even longer winter. If FOM/FIA really had their ideas straight I’d love to see at least 1 top tier FIA event (WRC/WEC[?]/F1) every weekend.

    In my perfect world there would be a major motorsport event every other day… that’d be glorious and help motorsport become a genuine alternative to other ‘weekday’ spectator sports like football (and ‘Murican), baseball and cricket.

    I believe the real way to increase the footprint of motorsport is to make it accessible to people on a regional level, more regularly and at a more reasonable price. The lower price would be facilitated by venues not needing to add as much cost to each ticket to pay for something as immense as an arena/racetrack.

    This is arguably what happens in America, with their penchant for oval racing. Surely it’s up to Europeans to put some culture and corners into this type of model. 😉

    • “If FOM/FIA really had their ideas straight I’d love to see at least 1 top tier FIA event (WRC/WEC[?]/F1) every weekend.”

      Spot on, in my opinion Aiden. It would keep the top tier Formula 1 events in the public eye while also keeping the momentum and excitement going.

  5. IndyCar is spec. Formula 1 is open. And there’s your problem with a condensed schedule…

    Teams starting on the wrong foot will quite literally have no time to address much if anything. These days teams tend to complain that between back-to-back races they can’t fix this issue, or that issue. Sometimes even two week breaks isn’t good enough. With a tight schedule, you end the season with what you start, and in-season development will be dead. Admittedly, this won’t matter much for Force India, Sauber or Lotus…

    • Very good point Landroni. Teams already have to wait till the European races start before being able to bring an update that will fix the problems they encountered in the first 4 races. Teams would like to do it sooner but only a few have the financial resources to overcome the transportation difficulties that arise from racing all over the world in a short period.

      I think this change results in a season where if you do alright in the first race your good for the rest of the season but if you did not start on the right foot you’re going to have a bad season with only maybe at the end of the season some improvements. How much fun is that for us fans…

      • “I think this change results in a season where if you do alright in the first race your good for the rest of the season but if you did not start on the right foot you’re going to have a bad season”

        This, but not only. There is also the issue of non existent testing. Teams quite literally have no testing time available before the start of the season (4 days for a shakeup, and 4 days for not much really), and they use race weekends to test things, including races (wink wink McLaren Honda). Condense things too much, and Honda would take a whole year just to get the damn PU running and finish in front of Manor…

      • So why not bring back a bit more pre-season testing at the same time ?

        If you’re effectively preventing some of the existing in-season development with back to back races, that will save money, so net/net it might still be less expensive (and possibly level the field a bit?).

        And why not introduce a new spec series for the drivers to compete in during the off season, to keep us addicts happy ?
        Structured right, it could allow rookies to go up against some of the established stars in competitive machinery – and provide another route into F1 for the real talents.

        • It would be far smarter if the teams look at how they can optimize the amount of money spend, get the most out of every dollar spend. Having an extra test where the effectiveness of the test is debatable because of the (track) temperatures might not be the smartest thing to do.

        • I think that there should be more preseason testing. The teams should have gone to Bahrain this year to do some testing in that climate but I was told that the cost was an issue.

  6. A tighter season schedule is better for race team employee’s personal lives in terms of disruption, and this may be the trade-off made for axing the current August mandatory holiday.

    Doesn’t it make it even harder for people to come home during the flyaways. Also it means no possibility of a short family break during the season, with no breaks between some races.

    • Many people have jobs which see them away for long periods of time. The compensating factor is a good stretch uninterrupted with the family

  7. Indycar is no standard for F1 nowadays. The condensed schedule with little testing means F1 will go into a deep hibernation and enjoy all the benefits of ostracism. Just what the doctor ordered.

    Bernie is a genious.

  8. Here’s a suggestion:

    I love back-to-back races, but I also understand that is can be problematic for families and teams.
    I’d like to have a formula one season that is split into three terms, or trimesters if you like. Given that there are 21 races, that would make 7 back-to-back races for every trimester. Between the trimesters there could be a brake of, say, 4 or 5 weeks, so that the track personel have time to see their families and the teams have lots of time to bring upgrades to the cars.

    FOM could also make use of this schedule to make the sport more understandable, e.g. by allowing every driver two PUs per trimester, instead of 5 per season with noone ever knowing how many PUs a driver has got left.

    …Ooooor give 5 extra points for managing to get most pole positions in a trimester and so on.

    • Gotten used to seeing break where brake should be…. here we have the opposite!
      How does that work…….?

    • You could even have a knockout chase like system.

      Bottom 5 in the championship get knocked out the first trimester, next 5 in the second and then the top 10 have a shootout over the last 7 races.

  9. I would prefer a race every 2nd weekend, as long as they alternate with a moto gp race on the ‘off’ weekend!

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