Bernie Ecclestone, Bahrain, 2018

How Ecclestone’s parting shot to Liberty added to their F1 calendar woes

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As a parting shot to new F1 owners Liberty Media, Bernie Ecclestone handed discounts to several of the sport’s most lucrative races shortly before he was eased aside.

Now the sport’s commercial rights holders faces tricky decisions about how to organise the 2019 F1 calendar and how to push ahead with its previously declared plans for expansion. @DieterRencken considers how the schedule for next season could take shape.

Liberty Media, the owners of Formula One Management and holders of F1’s commercial rights until 2110, has set itself the target of reorganising the sport’s calendar. Their plan is to group grands prix on a territorial basis in order to rationalise regional marketing programmes, condition fans to events at (approximately) the same times for blocks of races wherever they may be, and streamline logistics.

On the surface it all makes perfect sense: Instead of criss-crossing the globe, following the sun would cut costs on freight costs (and time), while sponsors could plan their activation programmes on regional bases, rather than implementing the activities on a per-event roster. FOM, too, could plan its Fan Fests to promote regional, rather than specific, races.

There are, though, downsides to such groupings. Not least that events might cannibalise each other, a situation which has happened several times before: In 2001 a five-week gap between two races in Germany, at the Nurburgring and Hockenheimring, punished both venues; similarly in 2012 the European Grand Prix at Valencia took place five weeks after the Spanish Grand Prix 250 miles up the motorway in Barcelona; and just last year the nearby Singapore and Malaysian Grands Prix were staged two weeks apart.

In all instances attendances at the respective venues suffered, not least because fans’ budgets seldom stretch to two costly grandstand tickets within the same period, and downgrading to cheaper seats simply spreads the losses. Hence, without exception, such calendar crowding lasted, at most, two years. Small wonder both Bahrain and Abu Dhabi have insisted on retaining their April and November slots respectively.

Constructing F1 calendars is a complex task: Not only does FOM need to consider the factors above, but needs to recognise contractual obligations such as Melbourne’s right to host the season opener and Abu Dhabi’s claim on the finale. Then there is the question of climate: A March date for Austria’s race would be as nonsensical as an August race in Abu Dhabi; ditto typhoon season slots for Suzuka or December for Montreal. Time zones, too, play a role – particularly where daylight changes work in favour of television.

National and religious holidays and global events also impact on calendars: Some venues prefer to stage events during holidays; others experienced loss of business – for example Russia, which swapped to a May date in the hope of exploiting the Labour Weekend, but has reverted to an October slot – while staging grands prix to clash with FIFA World Cup broadcasts (or similar sporting events) is tantamount to financial suicide.

McLaren, Sochi, 2017
Russia will also host the football world cup this year
Then there is the question of tradition: Although this year is an exception due to the vagaries of an early Easter, Monaco generally stages its event during the Ascension Day weekend, when its businesses are closed for the day and the streets quiet. These considerations, incidentally, gave rise to the Principality’s original four-day race weekend timetable, with the streets being opened for business on Fridays.

Finally, packing 21 (and increasing) races plus a summer break and sufficient pre-season testing into an effective 50 weeks will always be a complex task, particularly when one considers that teams will travel around 100,000 miles between events and testing during the period. Any wonder F1’s current schedule features a triple-header and three double-headers, and jets to Montreal between its Monaco and Marseilles fixtures?

There is no doubt, though, that the current calendar is cumbersome: A two-week gap between Melbourne and Bahrain/China is counter-productive and costly: F1 personnel either faced the two longest hauls of the season within a fortnight, or stay away from base (and families) for two weeks. Either way, the return flight from Shanghai flew directly past Baku; then, two weeks later we are off to Azerbaijan…

RaceFans understands that upheaval is expected shortly after the recent disclosure in the USA via Liberty Media documents that the average race hosting fee amounts to around $30m, leading ‘showcase’ venues such as Sochi, Baku, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi to question why they are paying up to double the average fee – despite some venues being given discounts during former F1 tsar Bernie Ecclestone final days in office.

How then should the 2019 calendar shape up given the complex and conflicting parameters above while minimising travel time and costs? Equally, how best to accommodate a four-day launch/shakedown test in Barcelona while offering teams (and, crucially, Pirelli) an opportunity of hot weather testing at minimal cost? Another factor is routing given the preference of F1 folk to fly Middle Eastern airlines, predominantly FOM sponsor Emirates.

How next year’s calendar could look

Taking all this into consideration, here is RaceFans’ take on how the 2019 calendar could take shape, assuming all current venues retain or extend their existing deals.

Snow, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Snow in Spain this year prompted calls to move testing to warmer climes

Pre-season test one Barcelona 28 February-1 March
A later start than usual provides team with sufficient time before the incoming season for car design and manufacture, plus launch activities. The Circuit de Catalunya is a known quantity, while Barcelona provides a perfect base for a season launch should FOM wish to stage a full-on Fan Fest as suggested here. A ten-day break provides sufficient time back at base to fettle cars prior to the next test.

Pre-season test two Bahrain 12-15 March
Pirelli and the teams have long demanded at least one hot weather pre-season test. Thus cars and kit could be flown to Bahrain and onwards to Australia after the test.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2018
Australia is F1’s traditional curtain-raiser

Australia (Melbourne) 31 March – Currently contracted to 2023
At least a week later than recently, but the date permits a two-hour time zone swing that works in favour of most audiences – particularly European – while satisfying Melbourne’s contractual right to host the season opener.

Bahrain (Sakhir) 7 April – Currently contracted “beyond 2021”
Double-heading the race enables personnel to return to Europe via the Middle East, thus minimising costs and travel time. Post-race the cars and kit are ideally located for trip to China. Date over four months after Abu Dhabi, so little fan crossover. Sakhir International Circuit believed one of four pushing for a reduction in hosting fees, particularly now that Sheikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al-Khalifa sits on the main Liberty board.

China (Shanghai) 21 April – Currently contracted to 2023
Traditional slot, facilitates convenient travel and logistics to Baku via Turkey and/or Middle East. This would also be the 1,000th round of the world championship.

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Azerbaijan (Baku) 28 April – Currently contracted to 2025, option to break in 2020 with two years notice
Given that Baku was initially slotted in a week after Montreal, returning to Europe from China via Baku should pose no logistics challenges. Believed to be considering triggering its contractual break clause ahead of this year’s event in order to reduce annual hosting fees from over $60m with a 10% annual escalator.

Spain (Montmelo) 12 May – Currently contracted to 2019.
Traditional slot, with two-week window to Monaco facilitating first in-season test if required. Recently resurfaced, so clearly wishes to remain on calendar, but likely to negotiate more favourable contract.

Has Monaco lost its lustre?

Monaco (Monte Carlo) 26 May – Currently contracted to 2020
Traditional slot, but not during Ascension Day weekend as that falls at end-May and pushes GP into June. Currently pays no hosting fee, but with other circuits pushing for decreases, could that change after current contract expires? Paddock sentiment is that Liberty should call Monaco’s bluff, as with Ferrari. No longer F1’s only glamour race, and with a marked decline in sponsor interest, no longer crucial – as empty jetties attest.

Canada (Montreal) 9 June – Currently contracted to 2029
Traditional June at start of Canadian summer, but now twinned with Austin as was Indianapolis a decade ago. Two twinned North American races break European monotony while saving costs.

USA (Austin) 16 June – Currently contracted to 2021
Still the only US race on calendar despite Liberty’s plans to expand F1’s North American footprint. Moved forward from October slot for logistics reasons plus previous date saw cannibalisation with Mexico. Weather in June (+30C) warmer than October (+22C), and out of hurricane season. RaceFans understands the Fan Fest scheduled for October in Miami is intended to gauge reaction in preparation for possible 2020 date.

France (Le Castellet) 30 June – Currently contracted to 2022
A week later than 2018, providing an additional week after Monaco and LM24 respectively.

Austria (Spielberg) 7 July – Currently contracted to 2020
As per 2018, immediately after France, and thus a week later. Distance from Hamburg and Hockenheim is 700 and 500 miles respectively, so little overlap within Germany, while Spielberg has southern European catchment area. Trucks then head for Hockenheim.

Thin crowds greeted Germany’s last round of the world championship

Germany (Hockenheim) 21 July – Currently contracted to 2018
Hockenheim and the Nurburgring previously agreed to a myopic ‘time-share’ alternate-date agreement which, due to the latter’s financial problems, means Germany now hosts an F1 round only in even-numbered years. That deal ends this year but Hockenheim town council (the circuit owner) refuses to lose money annually and the Nurburgring is said to be not interested at current rates (believed to be $20m). Thus Mercedes may not have a home grand prix for the foreseeable future.

Hungary (Hungaroring) 28 July – Currently contracted to 2026
Traditional slot ahead of F1’s three weekend summer break despite late start to season. Recently resurfaced with new paddock/pit complex at planning stage. Slot permits crews to return to UK ahead of summer break if desired, ready for British Grand Prix. Timing also permits in-season or Pirelli tests before break.

Great Britain (Silverstone) 25 August – Currently contracted to 2019
Silverstone’s owner the BRDC triggered a break clause in its contract last year in the hope of agreeing better terms for a future deal after next year. A replacement venue seems unlikely in short term. A later date – in this case coinciding with the August Bank Holiday weekend – would avoid clashes with British sports events in July and enable teams to return home before heading for final two European legs of season.

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Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps) 8 September – Currently contracted to 2018
A week later than usual, and now also second round after summer break; back to backed with Monza. The promoter likely to push for discounted hosting fee in future: it made loss of $10m in 2016 despite the Max Verstappen effect, with similar losses expected for 2017.

Italy (Monza) 15 September – Currently contracted to 2019
As above, a week later than usual. Its contract expires next year and the circuit is hopeful of renewal ahead of its 2022 centenary, but not at any cost.

Russia’s round of the world championship has one of the longest contracts going

Russia (Sochi) 29 September – Currently contracted to 2025
One of the circuits believed to have received a substantial discount before Ecclestone’s removal as CEO, although RaceFans understands that the fee is still $10m above average and thus pushing for a further reduction. Date in line with 2018 calendar.

Japan (Suzuka) 13 October – Currently contracted to 2018
Given falling attendances Suzuka owners Honda have cause to lobby for a lower price for their next deal. The only other suitable venue in Japan is Fuji, owned by Toyota, and thus unlikely to engage with FOM. With Hockenheim, Suzuka makes two of four engine suppliers without contracted grand prix for 2019, and one of three (with Ferrari) by 2020…

Singapore 20 October – Currently contracted to 2021
Twinned with Suzuka to reduce Asian travel – 2018 round a standalone after Malaysia’s exit – and thus pushed out a month. Still, on direct flight path to next round in Mexico via Middle East. Climate similar to first two Malaysian Grands Prix, held late October.

Mexico (Mexico City) 3 November – Currently contracted to 2019
Same weekend as 2018, but now twinned with Brazil rather than USA to avoid cannibalisation of crowds.

Brazil (Interlagos) 10 November – Currently contracted to 2020
Held a week earlier than usual – see above – and now no longer standalone, thus reducing costs and travel time.

Abu Dhabi pays a premium to host the season finale

Abu Dhabi 24 November – Currently contracted to 2019 (although some sources suggest 2021)
Contractually holds finale slot, and thus allocated its traditional end-November date. Another showcase event paying well over the odds, and expected to join a push by Sochi, Baku and Bahrain for hosting fees reductions.

As can be seen, it is possible to construct a calendar that takes into account all contractual obligation, is respectful of tradition and the summer break, facilitates testing in both Europe and hot weather, and, crucially, reduces travel time, costs and distances while spreading the calendar across the globe on a regional basis without undue cannibalisation.

Of greater concern to Liberty, though, is that no fewer than three grand prix contracts expire at the end of 2018 and four more the year after, including the home venues for three of four engine suppliers. Liberty maintains that it holds a total of 40 expressions of interest for future grands prix: today its managing director for commercial operations Sean Bratches has restated plans to hold a street race in Vietnam sometime after 2019. Now is the time to prove it, if it hopes to grow revenues and the sport’s footprint.

Follow Dieter on Twitter: @RacingLines

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 59 comments on “How Ecclestone’s parting shot to Liberty added to their F1 calendar woes”

    1. It seems to me that China has a contract until 2020. Last year there was a statement about the extension of the contract for three years, by 2020.

    2. If Germany doesn’t want a race, the Netherlands does. Easy fix if you ask me.

      It has to be said though that the TT circuit in Assen needs a serious re-design because the current layout is terrible for F1. Zandvoort needs a massive re-design as well and a completely new paddock as well as substantial investments in infrastructure.

      The difference with Germany is that there is a willingness from the circuit, the promotors and local government to get it done. Plus you just know there’s easily 100.000+ Dutch, all willing to spend a small forturtune over a weekend.

      1. The number you can sell tickets to is of no consequence unless the fee to host the race is reasonable enough that you can make a profit by selling those tickets… (Or get a government handout to cover your costs). The British GP is easily the best attended yet is still having issues.

        1. Lee1
          Good point that. Clare Williams calling F1 broken came to mind reading your comments. Put simply, if the British grand Prix can’t make even a small profit when it attracts upwards of 500,000 paying punters and is almost always sold out, at F1’s premium tracks, who else can? Silverstone already has some of the most expensive tickets at grand Prix weekends. The problem clearly must be the hosting fee. It is unlikely the bdrc can make further savings to justify keep it going. Oh, and asking for a government subsidies is a no no. If a multi billion £ sport can’t keep 20 odd races and be profitable, they really do have problems.

      2. @jeffreyj, I thought that the reports in the past suggested that there wasn’t a huge appetite for an F1 race in the Netherlands.

        Zandvoort is realistically out of the question as the existing infrastructure is already inadequate for the races that take place there now, let alone an F1 race, and the local authorities just won’t stomach the cost of the required improvements to the local infrastructure. As for Assen, it seems they’ve no interest in hosting an F1 race.

        There were a few who then suggested that perhaps it could be a street race instead, but it seems that nobody could find a venue that might be suitable as the local authorities in most of those cities rejected the idea.

          1. Whoops, the linking didn’t went well haha

    3. I think what places such as Abu Dhabi, Socchi et al are forgetting is that they have tedious tracks, so the idea that they should be given the same deals as Spa, Brazil, Montreal is laughable. The quality of tracks have to be taken into consideration in terms of the prices charged

      1. @caelmap – I never thought of it like this before, but this is a fantastic point you make. The more entertaining the race, the less you should have to pay.

      2. Caelmap
        It’s the 1st I’ve heard of the hosting fees been set based on the track characteristics. Bernie was not the sentimental type when it came to hosting fees. As far as he was concerned, & I can tell, the more the merrier was his motto. Mind you, I suppose, that was his job.

        1. They’re currently not. Question: should they be?

    4. Ugh, please not Austin in June. Too hot and sticky!

      1. That was my first thought too.

      2. Much in agreement.

    5. I can just imagine the outpourings of emotion and distress among fans if Sochi and Abu Dhabi don’t get their reductions and decide they’re going to stop hosting races…

      1. @neilosjames I for one will be distraught. These 2 tracks are absolutely critical to retain due to the value of racing they deliver.

        After all who would want the finale to be on an action packed track? And Sochi, well it’s just boring.

        I propose for Bahrain to replace Abu Dhabi as it often offers good racing, and anything to replace Sochi.

      2. I’ll make a bold claim that Sochi is the worst track to ever grace F1. I’d pay good money to see that off the calendar and replaced by anything half decent.

        1. @deej92 I’d probably cite Avus, but Sochi was definitely in the bottom 5, even taking the 68-year calendar into account.

    6. +1 to having the British Grand Prix on the bank holiday weekend – that would make a great end to the summer

    7. This suggested draft/fantasy calendar for next season is a bit too unrealistic to actually happen. Moving COTA to June just wouldn’t really be worth it as the temperatures can get unpleasantly high at that part of the USA at that time of year. Perhaps, the US GP at COTA could take place in very early-June, but not really any further into the month. Austin in mid-June would be more or less as nonsensical as Bahrain and or Abu Dhabi within the period of May-September, or Montreal in October/November, etc. Furthermore, I also don’t really understand why Hockenheim is included here even though it’s rather a given that it won’t be part of the Championship next season. Here’s my personal proposed race calendar for next season in two different forms, which are quite a bit more realistic to achieve than the version above:
      1. Australia March 24
      2. Bahrain April 7
      3. China April 21
      4. Russia April 28 (I have a feeling they’re going to ask to get the late-April slot back since they only moved to late-September for this season due to the FIFA World Cup tournament)
      5. Spain May 12
      6. Monaco May 26
      7. Canada June 9
      8. France June 23
      9. Austria June 30
      10. Britain July 14
      11. Hungary July 28
      12. Belgium August 25
      13. Italy September 1
      14. Azerbaijan September 15 (I expect this race to move to the late-season flyaway phase should the Russian GP return to the early-season one.)
      15. Japan September 29
      16. Singapore October 6
      17. USA October 20
      18. Mexico October 27
      19. Brazil November 10
      20. Abu Dhabi November 24
      Here’s an alternative should Azerbaijan and Russia remain in the early-season and late-season flyaway phases respectively:
      1. Australia March 24
      2. Bahrain April 7
      3. China April 21
      4. Azerbaijan April 28
      5. Spain May 12
      6. Monaco May 26
      7. Canada June 9
      8. France June 23
      9. Austria June 30
      10. Britain July 14
      11. Hungary July 28
      12. Belgium August 25
      13. Italy September 1
      14. Japan September 15
      15. Singapore September 22
      16. Russia October 6
      17. USA October 20
      18. Mexico October 27
      19. Brazil November 10
      20. Abu Dhabi November 24

    8. ”In 2001 a five-week gap between two races in Germany, at the Nurburgring and Hockenheimring, punished both venues; similarly in 2012 the European Grand Prix at Valencia took place five weeks after the Spanish Grand Prix 250 miles up the motorway in Barcelona; and just last year the nearby Singapore and Malaysian Grands Prix were staged two weeks apart.
      In all instances attendances at the respective venues suffered, not least because fans’ budgets seldom stretch to two costly grandstand tickets within the same period, and downgrading to cheaper seats simply spreads the losses.”
      – I just find these type of claims purely nonsensical to be perfectly honest. First of all, most people will only attend one of two or more races on any given geographically nearby venues regardless of the scheduling, and secondly, I’d say if anything grouping a two nearby venues together actually rather increases the probability of the same people attending both as then they wouldn’t have to travel to the same part of the world twice separately in a year (this especially applies to international race travellers/attendees). For example, I’d be far more willing to attend both Middle Eastern races in the same season if they took place on subsequent weekends rather than many months apart from each other precisely for the reason I explained above. I especially don’t understand the logic of the claim on the ‘five-week gap’ part. Furthermore, the distance between Austin and Mexico City is a massive 1,213.62 km by air, which is far greater than the Spa-Monza, and Hockenheim-Hungaroring distances, for example, and yet no one complains about those races taking place on subsequent weekends, and also similar to the Montreal-Indianapolis distance, and yet no one complained about those venues being on subsequent weekends from 2004 to ’07 either. For the sake of consistency, if people are going to make such a big fuss about venues with more than 1200 km between them being on back-to-back weekends, then they should make a big deal out of venues with 800-1000 km between them being on back-to-back weekends as well.

      1. I forgot to include that an Australia-Bahrain double-header is more or less entirely out of the question as the distance (by air) between them is a significant 12,121.52 km, which is a bit too great to get the all the equipment from Melbourne to Bahrain in time within a mere few days. Yes, the Brazilian, and the Abu Dhabi GPs have once taken place on back-to-back weekends (2010) even though the distance between them is approximately the same as the Melbourne-Bahrain distance, but the crucial difference here is that those two races take place at the end of the season rather than at the beginning as opposed to the Australian and the Bahrain GPs.

        1. ”holders of F1’s commercial rights until 2110” – That’s more than 90 years from now, LOL.

      2. If Malaysia had been one week before or after Singapore it would have been far better attended – separating the races by months or weeks just meant that a lot of people had to pick one to go to, if they had been back to back then for me attendances would have risen. Its a travesty that KL is no longer on the calendar – a cracking track in a cheap country.

    9. My dream calendar would be (taking into consideration the points mentioned in the article, but getting rid of Russia and Abu Dhabi as they are just awful……I mean AWFUL!!!!)

      1: Australia
      2: China
      3: Bahrain
      4: South Africa
      5: Spain
      6: Monaco
      7: USA – Austin
      8: Canada
      9: Scandinavian GP (rotated between Sweden/Finland/Denmark)
      10: Austria
      11: European GP (rotated between Hungary/Portugal/Holland/Azerbaijan)
      12: France
      13: Germany
      14: Great Britain
      15: Belgium
      16: Italy
      17: Japan
      18: Singapore
      19: USA – Miami/North East
      20: Mexico
      21: Argentina
      22: Brazil

    10. MotoGP might have something to say about that bank holiday slot at silverstone…

      1. As might WEC – F1 insists on a 10-day window before the Grand Prix to get things TV perfect, and Britain’s WEC round is 7 days before…

    11. So having bled Formula 1 for his personal wealth for years, Ecclestone still felt the need to damage the sport on his way out? Why do they let him anywhere near F1 meetings now he is surplus to requirements? Certainly not to improve the atmosphere.

      1. Agreed, although if Liberty can prove the deals were non-standard & mala-fida, they can legally recover the balance from Bernie, while still allowing the circuits to keep the discounted rates.

        I’d love to see that happen & Bernie get caught in his own trap.

    12. It will be 95F/35C in Austin in the middle of June, a track which has no natural shade whatsoever.

      So, no.

    13. I thought it was pretty much common knowledge that not only were e.g. Sochi and Abu Dhabi paying considerably more for their races, but more importantly that they were happy to do so.

      What changed there?

    14. The USA date in this example would clash with Le Mans, for me this is a no-go as it was in 2016 with Baku.

      1. @t4bb3 Wrong, that wouldn’t actually be the problem with this date, though, as due to the time difference these two events wouldn’t directly clash anyway (precisely what was the case when the Canadian GP and the LM24hrs used to take place on the same weekend). The temperatures would be the ‘one and only’ problem with the date in this example as they can get unpleasantly high there at that time of year.

        1. Traditionally the second weekend in June is the date where Le Mans is held, and yes they would be in different time zones, but why overlap them? At the very minimum they clash for the drivers who want to participate in Le Mans and F1.

          1. @t4bb3 And how many drivers actually have shown interest/willingness in competing at the 24 hours of Le Mans while competing in F1 full-time? TBH, just one, really.

    15. If Liberty has 21 current circuits and another 40 on their list, here’s a not-even-remotely-sensible solution: Visit all the circuits in alphabetical order.

      Pros:
      Everyone who wants to host a race can have one
      No two seasons would have the same circuits – a fun challenge for the teams to get to grips with

      Cons:
      *Not enough room on the internet to list them all*

      1. This made me laugh. Thanks for that.

        Certainly would present a fair few creative challenges. Would need a few more tire options for the inevitable snow/ice races. Could almost turn into rally racing sometimes. I’d watch for the spectacle.

    16. Having spotted the European triple header when the 2018 calendar was announced last year, the wife and I are making use of it with a road trip in place to watch all three.

      1. Ju88sy
        Go on my son. I do envy you & the other half. Enjoy, and don’t forget to report back.

    17. back to back to back to back

      Boavista
      Vila-Real
      Estoril
      Portimao

      thank me later

      1. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
        26th April 2018, 0:47

        @johnmilk not hating on your proposal but what would you call all those Grands Prix? XD

        1. I’m sure liberty could come up with something @leonardodicappucino

    18. The Singapore to Mexico route goes over the Pacific, not over the Middle East?

    19. No doubt there are chains of consequences for every suggested change but may I offer 1 suggestion; Rather than a hot weather test en-route to Melbourne, why not make a deal to use Philip Island (just down the road from Melbourne) for testing before the AGP and bring the season start forward 2 weeks (as it used to be). Having the testing and GP in Melbourne would be an opportunity for team members to bring their WAGs with them to enjoy a break from the gloom of winter and make the away season less of a relationship breaker as well as providing an additional 2 weeks in the calender for fine tuning, or even that extra race.

      1. @hohum – It would need a bit of work as it is currently only an FIA Grade 3 circuit but I love that idea.

        1. @macca, I was afraid of something like that, but I fail to see how a track that is safe for a MotoGP can be considered UNsafe for F1 testing.

      2. Too far from base for teams to be able to bring development parts – at last Bahrain is only 6 hours from Europe with regular flights. Also, the weather at Philip Island can be capricious.

        1. @dieterrencken, Capricious indeed, but as they say, “just wait 5 minutes”, can’t change the geography but they could spread the testing out since they would already be in place for the GP.

    20. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
      26th April 2018, 1:10

      Now that we’re talking about calendars I would like to go back to some time ago when Liberty said they wanted to have a 25-race calendar. Now, when they announced this, I had an idea to tie into that, which I will put out there now. I do realise the negatives to this idea, which I’ll address later. The idea: keep the maximum of 4 drivers per team per season, but add in a clause that over the 25 races, no driver may participate in more than 20 race weekends. This would mean each team would have to at least have 3 drivers, and would make interesting intra-team battles with Mercedes possibly giving 10 races to both Ocon and Bottas early in the season, with the better performing driver getting the seat alongside Hamilton for the final 10 races. Therefore, it would open up more spaces at the top teams and in general, while providing more interesting intra-team battles, however I do see the counter argument of the championship possibly being decided at a race where one of the two contenders isn’t present. Please do give me feedback on this.

      To tie this back into calendars, I made a bit of a 25-race fantasy calendar which I think would be great, taking into account everything except for race fees (which some circuits may not be able or willing to pay) and current contracts, using only current Grade 1 circuits:
      Pre-season test 1 (Bahrain) – 5-8 Feb
      Pre-season test 2 (Jerez) – 19-22 Feb
      Australian GP (Melbourne) – 10 Mar
      Malaysian GP (Sepang) – 17 Mar (Night Race)
      Bahrain GP (Bahrain) – 31 Mar
      Thai GP (Buriram) – 7 Apr (Night Race)
      Spanish GP (Catalunya) – 21 Apr
      San Marino GP (Imola) – 28 Apr
      Monaco GP (Monte Carlo) – 5 May
      Canadian GP (Montreal) – 19 May
      Mexican GP (Hermanos Rodriguez) – 26 May
      European GP (Nurburgring) – 9 Jun
      British GP (Silverstone) – 16 Jun
      French GP (Paul Ricard) – 30 Jun
      Russian GP (Moscow) – 7 Jul
      Hungarian GP (Hungaroring) – 14 Jul
      Belgian GP (Spa) – 18 Aug
      Austrian GP (Red Bull Ring) – 25 Aug
      German GP (Hockenheim) – 8 Sep
      Portuguese GP (Estoril) – 15 Sep
      Italian GP (Monza) – 22 Sep
      Singapore GP (Marina Bay) – 6 Oct (Night Race)
      Chinese GP (Shanghai) – 13 Oct
      Japanese GP (Suzuka) – 27 Oct
      Dubai GP (Dubai) – 3 Nov (Night Race)
      United States GP (Austin) – 17 Nov
      Brazilian GP (Interlagos) – 24 Nov
      Every race is at least double headered and there are three triple headers (Spain-San Marino-Monaco, France-Russia-Hungary, and Germany-Portugal-Italy) but the summer and winter breaks are still intact (except the winter break is 2 weeks shorter and the summer break 2 weeks later than normal) and we have 25 races, and less terrible circuits like Sochi, Yas Marina, and Baku!

      1. @leonardodicappucino ”I would like to go back to some time ago when Liberty said they wanted to have a 25-race calendar.”
        – TBH, Chase Carey has stated a couple of times that increasing the number of races isn’t a priority for them, though, and that they don’t have a ‘target number’ of races.

    21. suryana (@mursidsuryana)
      26th April 2018, 5:59

      Last year Baku is perfect date, since that date is 1 day after islamic holiday.

    22. Moving Austin to June is an awful idea and it has no business being there. Austin is really very hot in June- so much so that having a race there will probably be Dallas ‘84 all over again. Nobody wants to be outside in 100F temperatures for up to 2 hours.

      This is really what the race calendar should realistically look like:

      1. Australia (March 24)
      2. Bahrain (April 7)
      3. China (April 21)
      4. Azerbaijan (April 28)
      5. Spain (May 12)
      6. Monaco (May 26)
      7. Russia (June 9)
      8. France (June 23)
      9. Austria (June 30)
      10. Britain (July 14)
      11. Germany (July 28)
      12. Hungary (August 4)
      13. Belgium (September 1)
      14. Italy (September 8)
      15. Canada (September 22)
      16. Mexico (September 29)
      17. Brazil (October 13)
      18. USA (Austin) October 20)
      19. Japan (November 4)
      20. Singapore (November 11)
      21 Abu Dhabi (November 25)

      But if there were no contractural restrictions with the apparent races coming, this is how I would have it:

      1. Argentina (Bs As) (March 3)
      2. Brazil (March 10)
      3. USA (Miami) (March 24)
      4. México (March 31)
      5. Bahrain (April 14)
      6. China (April 21)
      7. Azerbaijan (May 5)
      8. Spain (May 12)
      9. Monaco (May 26)
      10. Hungary (June 9)
      11. France (June 23)
      12. Russia (June 30)
      13. Austria (July 14)
      14. Britain (July 21)
      15. Germany (August 5)
      16. Belgium (September 2)
      17. Italy (September 9)
      18. Canada (September 23)
      19. USA (Austin) (October 7)
      20. Japan (October 21)
      21. Abu Dhabi (November 4)
      22. Singapore (November 18)
      23. Australia (November 25)

      1. @mfreire Why move the Canadian GP to September? The Canadian GP can really only take place within the period of June-August. The temperatures can get unfavorable low for F1 in September especially in the second half of the month, and furthermore, Suzuka gets a bit too cool/cold in November, so moving it to that month wouldn’t really be worth it either.

        1. @Jere Both the Canadian and Japanese rounds would be right on the limit of acceptable average temperatures. The Canadian GP could not be held any later than the third weekend of September because Montreal’s average temperature around that time is 65F (18C), and it’s the same with the Japanese GP- the average ambient temperature is also about 65F, and it is less likely to rain at that time of year. The Canadian GP before 1982 was held in late September right before Italy, and the Japanese GP has been held a few times in that time of year before.

    23. From the 4th week of September onwards in Montreal, the temperatures drop below 60F (16C).

    24. Liberty needs to simplify the hosting fees too;
      One price for traditional F1 circuits with long history,
      One price for ‘new’ circuits in countries / regions important to F1 (those valuable to teams, drivers & fans, & with good attendance figures),
      One price for new circuits in countries / regions not important to F1 (those paid for by wealthy royalty / dictators as a ‘badge’, where there are no crowds & atmosphere).

      Surcharge fees for the season opener & the season closer

      3 discounts determined by votes;
      Drivers favourite circuit,
      Teams favourite circuit,
      Fans favourite circuit.

    25. F1 has been ruined and it will never ever be the same! Ecclestone’s greed has been apparent in F1 for years and has been the catalyst to its demise! The sooner that F1 was made into a fair and an equal playing field and the penultima of ‘motor racing’ the sooner fans will come back in droves! As it stands at the moment, its a one way street to disaster and no fan can penultimately support and/or be satisfied that the F1 reflects an equal playing field to all competitors.

    26. Maybe a little too late, but here’s my F1 2019 schedule attempt. Races are grouped geographically, except for Abu Dhabi and Brazil. The Canada race is scheduled for September 1st, so I guess the weather shouldn’t be a concern (Abu Dhabi at August 18: maybe too hot?)

      Mar 24 Bahrein
      Apr 7 Azerbaijan
      Apr 21 Italy
      May 5 Spain
      May 12 Austria
      May 26 Monaco
      Jun 9 Germany
      Jun 23 France
      Jul 7 Great Britain
      Jul 21 Hungary
      Jul 28 Belgium
      Aug 4 Russia
      Aug 18 Abu Dhabi
      Sep 1 Canada
      Sep 15 United States
      Sep 22 Mexico
      Oct 13 China
      Oct 20 Japan
      Nov 3 Singapore
      Nov 10 Australia
      Nov 24 Brazil

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