The change in the ownership of Formula One has revealed that whilst Bernie Ecclestone was capable of taking the sport from racing in muddy fields to a global competition was indeed truly remarkable. Yet Ecclestone got ‘stuck’. His philosophy was to make F1 exclusive, restrict sponsorship, TV rights, bloggers using F1 trademark and the number of events each season. Liberty media who obtained the commercial rights from Bernie are proving they are more than capable of taking Bernie’s excellent work and taking it to the next level.
Next season will see the biggest ever Formula One schedule with 24 races being run from March to November, a whole 39 weeks containing the most glorious racing between the most technical glorious prototypes on planet earth.Demand for Formula One is increasing at some pace with promoters falling over themselves to host one of the world’s most glamorous motorsport events.
Yet earlier this year the teams were given the opportunity to extend the race calendar to 26 races but refused. This means current events on the calendar will be dropped as keen new hosts are falling over themselves to host and F1 weekend.
Liverpool FC set a record in the last season for the most games played because they were involved in four competitions until the final stages of each. 63 games the club turned out for and yes around half were plane at home but there were weeks the team played 3 away games in 7 days across the continent of Europe.
Baseball in the USA sees the teams play 162 games a season and that’s before the World Series 7 game playoff.
Of course a Formula One team’s logistical efforts to move from location to location is hugely greater than shifting a football or baseball team around the continent or the world.
Yet it was not long ago 16 F1 events I a season was considered the maximum a team would be capable of managing. The same crews would attend every event on the F1 calendar.
However by recruiting two sets of race weekend personnel who can rotate the travel and in effect halve the burden means even with 24 races, the race crew only need to attend 12 events a year. Some dedicated individuals without family responsibilities whose life is F1 only may want to do the full season, why not let them?
Recently Liberty media asked the teams to agree to extend the maximum number of races from 24 to 26. They refused.
Yet the issues weren’t HR staff stress related, it was about money.
The teams were also asked to increase the Sprint races in existing weekends form 3 to 6. They refused.
The reason was they needed an extra 5 million a year to ditch a practice session and run a Sprint.
Of course if increases in commitment for the F1 teams adds incremental costs they should be reverted for this. Further if Liberty media are increasing the income pot from extra races, the teams should receive their share.
With new F1 hosts desperate to gain a place on the calendar with a 24 race season limit then other traditional circuits are now under threat. The Concorde agreement has enshrined there will always be no less than 8 races in the European heartlands where the teams are based and the fan base is by far the greatest.
The question is, given F1 is booming and particularly in Europe where almost each circuit this season has so far seen record attendance, why not expand the European leg beyond 8 races.
Well the gift to prevent the likes of the historic Belgium GP falling form the calendar is within the F1 teams’ behest.
Per competitor Formula One drives more revenue than any other closets competition around the globe. So surely it is not beyond the pale to continue to extend its global reach further. F1 teams have the finest processes I the world in terms of delivering cars and developing them in an incredibly short space of time. They can surely find a way to race in 26-30 venues around the world each year.
The matter is simply about money and not any principal of people resources.
Team’s have been forced to lay off staff due to the budget cap introduced in 2021. If the money is forthcoming from Liberty media and the budget cap was to be increased, then 30 races a year is not beyond the pale.
As always in F1 it’s about money and privilege.
If Liberty media compensate the teams for their extra exertions and further add incremental incentives for addition competitive events, then why should Formula One not compete over 30 events a year?
It appears at present the teams are delusional about what they are capable of in terms of race events, yet they are burning the candle at both ends to produce a new widget that may or may not make the difference.