Liberty Media back down to F1 team’s demands

20 years ago the Formula One calendar had 17 rounds per season but over the years the global popularity of the sport has seen this grow to 22 events during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Yet such is the demand to promote F1 races around the world Liberty Media’s F1 CEO remarked earlier this season that 30 races a year in the future.

For 2022 the calendar was originally for its largest number of events ever until the invasion of Ukraine saw Formula One tear up its contract with the promoters of the Russian GP.

Ahead of the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia this March, Stefano Dominicali told Sky Sports we was looking to expand the F1 calendar yet further.



30 F1 races a year says F1 CEO

“I would say there is potential to go to 30. In terms of the interest we see all around the world,” claimed F1’s CEO.

“It is up to us to try to find the right balance considering what are the venues which would like to be in F1, what are the historical values we need to see on the calendar.”

The latest Concorde agreement signed in 2021 does allow for up to 25 races as agreed by the FIA, the teams and Formula One’s commercial rights holders. Yet there has been disquiet in the paddock over the relentless push to add more and more F1 events to the calendar each season.

Toto Wolff and Mattia Binotto did not attend the recent Japanese GP and the Mercedes boss has made it clear for next year’s 24 round season he will not be attending all of the events.



Team bosses start skipping races

“I will start to skip a few races,” he said in an interview with the Press Association rolling the confirmation of the 2023 calendar

“The whole team needs to look at it. It is not sustainable for anyone to do 24 races. The drivers have to, but we start on Monday in the office and go through until the end of the week.

“We need to find a solution, and I think the race team will skip a few races every year in order to survive.”



F1 needs to be more exclusive

Bernie Ecclestone ran Formula one on the basis that  exclusivity drove higher fees and sponsorship deals and told German publisher Blick this season more than 18 rounds erodes this advantage.

“This is how you annoy even the biggest fans and destroy interest in the TV too. 18 races is enough.”

Yet the 2023 F1 season has a record breaking 24 rounds and had South Africa been approved by the FIA the maximum agreed 25 may well have been scheduled.

“We used to have 15 races, but that was another situation. Now the interest is very high, and hopefully will be even greater in the future,” Dominicali tells



F1 bow to teams pressure

However F1’s CEO has backed down from his claims earlier this season that 30 F1 events a year is doable.

“23 to 24 races is a good number. However, I don’t want to discuss more than this,” says Domenicali.

“The venues are selected around this number. There are many factors that are taken into account, but the number of Grand Prix is clear. With 24, the maximum is reached.”

The Concorde agreement sets out how the location of the races is to be selected. One third of all F1 events each season must be held in the homeland of the sport which is Europe.



FIA ‘strange geographical boundaries’

That said F1’s definition of the geographical boundaries of Europe at times has been loosely interpreted. The inaugural GP held in Azerbaijan was named by Ecclestone as ‘The European GP”. 

However, Azerbaijan for many Historians is classed as Western Asia rather than Eastern Europe due to its location in relation to the Ural mountain range.

This season Europe has hosted 10 rounds of the formula one championship (leaving Baku in Asia) however France has been dropped for next year and with the South African GP expected to debut in 2024 other European race ill have to go leaving 8 out of 24, which is the regulated 1/3rd of all F1 events in a season.

The Belgium GP was given a reprieve for 2023 when the Kyalami promoter failed to gain FIA approval to hold and F1 event. However the race in Spa is just a one year extension and is expected to make way for South Africa in 2024.



F1 calendar out of balance

Dominicali continues, “We are trying to create a balance,” 

“One third of the races is to take place in Europe, another third in the Americas and the Middle East, and the last third in the Far East. 

“In USA, the premier class [of motorsport] is currently booming, which is why three Grand Prix will be held in the states from 2023.”

At present Dominicali’s goal of 8races in Europe, 8 in the Americas and the Middle East and 8 in Asia is out of balance. Europe will hold 9 events, there are 6 in the America’s together with 4 in the middle east and just 5 in Asia.



F1 calendar depends on finances

Unsurprisingly money is at the root of the restriction of the European events given on average their hosting fees to F1 are much smaller than in the rest of the world.

Dominicali admits as much when he concludes, “When creating the racing calendar, the financial side is very important,” 

“There are many more offers than appointments in the calendar. We take into account the beauty of the track itself, the investment, the activities for the fans, and the interest of the teams and manufacturers involved.”

Saudi Arabia announced this week they are hoping to host a second  F1 event once its new track in Qiddiya is complete.

It could be the planned Vietnamese GP will eventually make its debut after being called off just 21 days before the cars were due to hit the track in 2020. It was a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

That said the mayor who facilitated the promotion of the race has since been convicted of stealing state documents and imprisoned for 5 years.



Verstappen: Too many street circuits

The location of Formula One races will always be in flux. The sport’s commercial rights owners clearly favour locations that can offer the biggest hosting fees and there is a shift towards ore street races because the cost of building a purpose built circuit at over $500m is prohibitive.

Max Verstappen has expressed his concern over the rise in the number of street circuit races. 

“I don’t want to see myself in 2028 driving only on street circuits, close to cities, just for fan engagement. I understand it is about money. F1 cars are not designed for [street circuits].”

With the inclusion of Las Vegas, one third of next season’s F1 races will be held on non-purpose built circuits if Canada and Australia are included.

Of course F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty media is driven to create ever greater profits from the sport, however Dominicali is no longer even pushing for the agreed maximum 25 races a year, never mind the potential 30.

READ MORE: FIA now favouring Andretti application for 2024

2 responses to “Liberty Media back down to F1 team’s demands

  1. Why do people keep on misinterpreting & twisting Domenicali’s words from March into something different than what he actually meant?
    He never said he’d ‘want’ 30, only that the interest amount could ‘ theoretically’ form 30, which is different.
    As I pointed out at the time, 30 will never happen for more than one reason, not only for the seasonal upper limit of 24 (not 25) but also for logistical impracticality.

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