Start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Limit F1 calendar to 20 races, says Szafnauer

2020 F1 calendar

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Formula 1 should cap the number of grands prix per season at 20 to increase revenue from race hosting fees, says Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

The sport’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media has added two new rounds to the 2020 F1 calendar in Vietnam and the Netherlands. It remains to be seen if the final schedule will expand beyond the current 21 races or if existing rounds will make way for the new events.

However Szafnauer believes the current calendar should be reduced to encourage promoters to pay a higher price for the prestige of holding a round of the world championship.

“My personal opinion is [Liberty] needs to have a good, hard look at the price elasticity of Formula 1,” Szafnauer told RaceFans in an exclusive interview.

“Are you better off with 18 races and having the 18th one compete with the other 17 to knock the price up? Or are you better off having 25?

“My personal opinion is – make it more exclusive, charge a little bit more, which is better for all of your employees.”

Liberty Media has indicated it wants to increase the number of races per year to as many as 25. But Szafnauer argued for a limit of “20 a year.

“Because if you go to 25, it just loses something,” he said.

F1 should prioritise America and Africa for any future new races, Szafnauer added.

“I’d like it to go to America a couple of more times, maybe Miami. I’d also like it to maintain a good base in Europe. That’s what Liberty or Chase [Carey, F1 CEO] said early on that we’re going to do.

“I think that’s important. I’d like to see it go to Africa, because I think that Africa is an up and coming continent. Maybe we’ll race in South Africa.”

Read our exclusive interview with Otmar Szafnauer in the new edition of the RacingLines column later today on RaceFans

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Author information

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...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “Limit F1 calendar to 20 races, says Szafnauer”

  1. Why not drop to 18 with F1 season starting in early march and ending around early Nov. like it was few years back.

  2. Why not make it 16 races or less – let’s go for some *real* exclusivity… But then let’s also maintain a strong heartland in Europe but also expand to many other countries at the same time… Also, let’s keep a large payroll going to keep the team competitive but have less events with which to attract sponsors to actually pay for them.

    The eternal F1 conundrum…

    1. Indeed. And let’s also make sure all trackside advertising and hospitality opportunities go to Liberty, so that track owners have to keep ticket prices (and horrible-food prices) high in order to make enough money to pay the astronomical hosting fees. Oh wait, forgot to turn on my “sensible business” sensor…

  3. back estoril in f1

  4. ”It remains to be seen if the final schedule will expand beyond the current 21 races or if existing rounds will make way for the new events.” – As far as Chase Carey’s words (from pre-Spanish GP) are concerned, the number of races will remain at 21 for next season with two of the five venues not secured for beyond the current campaign (Circuit de Catalunya, Hockenheim, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Silverstone, and Monza) set to drop.

  5. I get his point about keeping the calendar to 20 races. I think this would be good for the teams as it would keep costs down. It would also be good for tv viewers as for some it would mean less of a commitment on busy weekends.

    However having the race venues pay higher fees would definitely not be good for the circuits. Several are already struggling to pay the required fees. It would also likely be bad for attendees as ticket prices might go up.

    There again if the product on offer to GP attendees improves, including the racing, then people might be willing to pay a little more.

    Personally I think they should stick to 20 or less with a core of at least 8 in Europe (not including anything east of Hungary).

  6. I think price elasticity does not apply well in this case. It is hard to see a substitute for a F1GP.
    There is not properly a queue of venues for Indy. Maybe for MotoGP.
    Other than that there are very little world event a city could look for.
    Only very close – in geographical and time terms – GPs can be deem propertly competing.

    A detrimental side effect of too much GPs is the diluting of action urgency.
    I mean, a bad result in a race respresenting 1/16 of the championship is different from one summing up to 1/20, 1/25.
    Some teams may not assume some risks, as there would be another dozen races do made it uo for a conservative/damageimitating strategy

  7. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    3rd July 2019, 17:45

    All Liberty has to do is look at NASCAR and see how 36 races doesn’t work anymore. It worked 10/12 years ago but now every race except for the Daytona 500 struggles to fill 50% of its grandstands. There is way to much product (36 races+ The Shootout, Dual raves and Allstar weekend which makes it over 40) and not enough demand. The NFL is a prime example. F1 with 20/21 races is what NASCAR needs to do and its what F1 should continue doing. It’s perfect. It’s perfect because I am always looking forward to the next GP whereas with NASCAR, it’s on every single weekend. It’s not special because it’s overused. F1 always gives me the feeling that I’m not getting enough but it keeps me craving the next race because each race of the season with the number of races they have on the calendar feels like a gift, it feels special because it’s not something I get to watch 40 plus times in a season. If Liberty are here for the long haul and not just trying to make a 10 year return and then some back on its investment they surely would recognize this.

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