Since the pandemic, which has seen circuits return or enter as new Grand Prix’ the F1 calendar (Mugello, Portimao, Imola…), the extension of the calendar raises questions about how to integrate new venues without exhausting everyone within the Formula 1 paddock.
Indeed, the F1 calendar is becoming more and more unsustainable for teams: theoretically (off-covid), according to the FOM’s initial plans, the sport was scheduled to run 23 races this year, with the arrival of Saudi Arabia on the calendar. And Liberty Media plans to go to 25 in the medium term.
The challenge is indeed to explore new territories, to conquer new markets: such as the Gulf or Vietnam.
From triple-header to triple-header (three races in a row, every week), the mechanics are however exhausted from such commercial adventures. How then can they spare the mechanisms and mechanics, while exploring new destinations?
The idea of an alternating calendar is thus gaining ground. It would be a good commercial track, but also for the interest of the spectators, by avoiding going, year after year, on the same circuits (this is also why the year 2020 has been so popular, as new appointments have appeared).
This is the idea put forward by Andreas Seidl, the director of the McLaren F1 team, in a statement last November:
“I’m not a fan of the 23-race calendar, I think 20 is enough. What I would prefer would be a rotation principle, which would mean that we could continue to visit different circuits while continuing to build them.”
This idea was publicly put forward by Chase Carey last November:
“Many of the places where we have run this year have expressed great interest in new races, and other countries are more interested than ever.
“We hope to move to a calendar of 24 races in the coming years, and we will probably rotate some of the races in order to be able to welcome new partners. ”
This would be the way to manage the geographical balance in each country – Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, the Nürburgring or Hockenheim, Monza, Imola or Mugello. And of course, the calendar would avoid being too overloaded with 23 races.
Many circuits that are not on the “normal” 2021 calendar could be used for this purpose, as they have FIA Grade 1 status. Several countries that F1 has never been to (Qatar, Kuwait, Finland…) already have such facilities.
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However, there are also some exceptions to be taken into account. Some circuits pay top dollar to be present on the calendar every year (Bahrain for instance). Some also pay to be at the opening or the end of the championship (Melbourne or Abu Dhabi). Finally, the historical value of certain Grand Prix (Spa and Monaco in particular) protects them from alternating in theory…
However, doesn’t the FOM stand to gain, both athletically and financially, by exploring such a path? It would undoubtedly be preferable to a poorly controlled extension of the calendar.