Bernie Ecclestone’s underpinning philosophy for Formula One has always been the sport should be exclusive.
Product exclusivity drives premium prices and sees demand exceed supply – which drives prices even higher.
This notion of exclusivity was particularly evident in the number of F1 races which were scheduled each year.
Ecclestone himself admitted in 2010, “We really should be at 16 [races], to be honest. 20 is plenty, that’s the limit. No more. I’ve been able to squeeze in 20 but I wouldn’t want to increase it…there’ll be mayhem otherwise!
‘We have enough countries waiting (to come on board) but I think we have to stop now,’
The debate over limiting the number of races swept through the upper echelons of F1 like wildfire following the publication of the 2011 calendar – which for the first time featured 20 F1 race weekends.
“For me, personally, [20 races] is too much,” commented former FIA president Max Mosely. “In my honest opinion it will be too many Sunday’s for the fans who will have to adjust their Sunday afternoons to fit with the sport. At some point it becomes a nuisance.”
Since Ecclestone began to reform the sport of Formula One back in the 1980’s, the number of races each year tended to settle around 15, 16, 17, but in recent years has pushed its way towards the 19/20 events per year mark, and for many this is simply untenable.
Ross Brawn explained in 2011: “I think you reach a point where, if you go beyond it, you have to look at rotating people, crews and that gets very difficult particularly with engineers who are very closely linked with their drivers.
“With some of the others, mechanics and technicians, we can do that. So 20 races I think is the sensible limit.”
Martin Whitmarsh also reflected, “we used to think going beyond 16 was tough and it is,” and there were others too who feared the implications of an ever growing F1 calendar.
“Going above 20 would be too many,” said Monisha Kaltenborn. Then again, counting has recently proven not to be a strength of the Indian born Sauber Team Principal.
Despite all this rhetoric, the proposed 2016 F1 race calendar has 21 races, which interestingly will have implications on the number of engines each car is allowed. The rules state that up to 20 races, each car is allowed four engines but above 20 this rises to 5.
Clearly, in the pursuit of ever increasing bundles of cash, Bernie Ecclestone has changed his philosophy from one of exclusivity – to stack em high and get as much for ‘em all as you can.
With Races every other weekend throughout the 2016 season and seven back to back events, we the fans will be able to fill our boots with F1 on our screens.
Yet as Max Mosely pointed out – is this really the kind of saturation F1 fans want? Because this is where the pursuit of money is taking us.