Mattia Binotto, Albert Park, 2020

Shorten race weekends to hold more races in 2020, says Ferrari’s Binotto

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In the round-up: Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says he supports the idea of condensing F1 race weekends to two days in order to fit more races in later this season.

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I enjoyed the race and this is the way FIA must go. Find a good popular game and go for it officially. I even liked the Red Cross info that was shown two or three times. In these difficult times this kind of things keep us occupied and warm till the normality of our life and normal racing come back.

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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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42 comments on “Shorten race weekends to hold more races in 2020, says Ferrari’s Binotto”

  1. If F1 goes to 2 day events I doubt it will ever return to 3-4 day events, the reduction in days will be used to justify more events. All subject to F1 surviving of course, I imagine it will, but there will be casualties.

    1. pastaman (@)
      29th March 2020, 2:05

      I agree, they’ve been looking for an excuse to change the weekend format and now they have it. Say bye bye to Friday practice.

      1. @pastaman I personally don’t really see an issue with that. If practice was moved from Friday to Saturday, is that really a huge negative? It will be easier for people involved in F1, they can travel later to tracks, and cutting down on practice may help reduce some of the predictability of the sport.

        1. There are a number of fans who have said that it is bad for them, as they liked to go there to watch the practice sessions. It is a move that is potentially bad for them, and bad for the circuit – they will face pressure to cut ticket prices (since you are ultimately cutting the length of the race weekend), or face discontent and risk losing sales if they keep prices high even as the cars spend less time on track.

          1. anon, I’m one of those fans who likes to go to the practice sessions.
            Even worse I would lose half my f1 experience; I only go to practice and quali, and then watch the race form home/hotel/friends ;)

            It won’t make a big difference (in my case) to race organisers though. Oftentimes, I get the practice tickets from friends who only use the Sunday part of their race package.

        2. @mashiat 2 day weekends for me would just decrease the value of attending a race weekend. Why pay hundreds of dollars to travel to a race just for 2 days with potentially 3 hours less F1 track action. Just doesn’t offer good value as far as i’m concerned, Especially if you plan to travel to another country & as such i’d be far less willing to do so.

          When I pay to goto a race weekend i’m there to watch F1 drivers in F1 cars & want to see as much of that as possible. We already have significantly less opportunities to go & watch the cars in action compared to what we used to thanks to the testing ban & I hate the idea of seeing those opportunities reduced further.

          I also dislike the idea of cutting practice because i’ve always found been at a track during Friday practice to be a far more enjoyable experience than qualifying or the race as it’s a more relaxed atmosphere & since you don’t have to worry about paying attention to lap times, race order & stuff as you do for qualifying/race it gives the opportunity to just walk the circuit & watch the cars from different places. For qualifying/races you tend to want to stay in your seats, watch the big screens & pay attention to things more closely to keep up with whats going on & while that is still fun it’s not as enjoyable an overall experience as what you can do during the practice sessions.

    2. Personally I have no concern that if they resort to shortened weekends to compress some sort of season into this year and next, that will mean they will permanently use 2 day weekends forever. Or put another way, I do not subscribe to a conspiracy theory that they are just looking for an excuse to do this and are using the global situation to make it happen permanently.

      Sure they have talked about it from the context of if they were to go to a 25 race season, and how a two day weekend would ease up some costs and free up personnel and man hours by making for one more day off ahead of the races, but as far as I know it is just an idea to consider amongst many. I’m not sure there is any way to measure how much F1, the teams, Brawn, Liberty, FIA actually want this. It’s been discussed as an idea. Is there any quote from anyone within F1, let alone a consensus, that would indicate the level of desirability or of undesirability for this concept? Rather I think that for some posters just the fact that this has been discussed automatically means some sort of negative motive. Big Brother is as always out to ruin everything.

      In the context for today, it is simply something they might consider if indeed they found themselves planning to run, for example, three races in three consecutive weekends, and that of course remains to be seen too. They will very likely run normal three day events when they are not trying to compress three races into three consecutive weekends.

      1. We shall have to wait and see.

    3. @mashiat If the circuit is only getting 2/3 of the event, then they can reasonably expect to only pay 2/3 of the price. Making this a regular thing is likely to substantially cut Liberty’s per-race income. If it does end up losing 1/3 of the race income as a result of this (maximum possible amount of loss), then it would need another 10 races to make up for it, let alone make more income. Is that something Liberty can afford (even if it is staggered across, say, five years of contract completions)?

  2. James Coulee
    29th March 2020, 2:06

    For F1 Esports races to work they need to:
    1- Offer one real championship point for the winner of each race: that way the drivers will be bothered to participate.
    2- A proper sim and not an arcade game, as many have said before.
    3- Race the 2021(22) cars in the simulation: bake in their physics and we’ll have a preview of how raceable they really are.

  3. Before they can even consider weekend format, we need to actually have a venue at which it’s safe to race.

    At present that would be none, and that seems unlikely to change.

    Then the weather conditions need to be factored in for December and January – surely that excludes pretty much all of the northern hemisphere so what are we left with?

    Let’s stop all this silly speculation about 2 day weekends and a whole heap of races before the start of next season and see whether or not anything at all can be salvaged for this year. At present, I’d suggest that’s unlikely and we’re just going to have to watch replays or eSports for the remainder of 2020.

    1. @dbradock
      Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, Australia, and Brazil.

      1. So take out the street circuits and it looks pretty grim doesn’t it. Somehow can’t see 2 day weekends being able to solve that issue.

      2. Racing in Melbourne in the height of summer might even be too hot. It gets to over 40 Celsius quite often, which would be pushing the cars, drivers and crews to the absolute limit.

        1. Melbourne is not Perth; it doesn’t get to 40°C very often at all. On the other hand, It does get four seasons in a day, typically described as cool, nippy, cold, etc.

    2. We can also have two-day weekends…

      It looks to me as though people don’t understand what we are dealing with. Currently the only way to wipe out this disease is for no one to have it, and looking at the statistics’ daily incrementation, that isn’t going to happen this side of Christmas. Likewise, to go back to having Grands prix like we used to can only happen if someone, I’m not sure who, can guarantee no one attending will have the virus, which again is unlikely to happen this year. What happened in Australia is almost certain to happen at every other GP held this year.
      I don’t know what the minimum number of people is that a team could race with, but to get back to racing we need to be thinking along the lines of what is the minimum number of people who have to attend and then have teams turn up with that number of people. For example, currently we think of 3 guys as necessary to change a wheel, and there’s 4 wheels, so that’s 12 guys. But really that’s far too many people.
      Another point is cars crash in Practice sessions and in Qualifying, meaning lots of people have to be on hand to do the necessary repairs so the car can race. So instead why not change the way those sessions are run to reduce the the chances of a car colliding with something in Practice and Qualifying? Or can we get rid of those sessions altogether and have the car already built up and ready to race when it arrives at the track.
      And finally I think the race needs to have a rolling start instead of their current standing start.

      1. The world is in a difficult position. It is not economically possible, without going back to some Dickensian model, to keep these restrictions up for too long. The talk of three months is difficult enough. The UK is borrowing billions even so, the US trillions. The German Health minister is talking out loud about getting back to normal by Easter, Trump the same. Simply because whatever the health professionals say the world cannot go on hold indefinitely unless we accept a precipitous drop in the standard of living, massive unemployment and serious social and mental health consequences which will result. And that is politically impossible. And ignoring the virus is politically impossible.

        So there has to be an exit strategy from the position we have put ourselves in. But, and this is the big question, what will that be?

        Then there is the worry the infection and death rate modelling is misleading. The Telegraph yesterday reported the past failures of such models for foot-and-mouth, earlier virus out breaks and prion disease from the scientist who’s model persuaded the UK government to go to a more extreme lockdown.

        There seems to be competitive disaster warnings on a daily basis from similar modelling by the medical statisticians: the latest was lockdown must continue for a year until the vaccine is ready, we must not go within 8 meters – yes meters – of one another………….and so on.

        However, one or two paint a very different picture, the most extreme being that half the UK population is already infected and only 1 in 1000 shows any symptoms.

        So the strategy for getting back to as normal as possible is going to be very difficult to define, balance will have to be found between the absolutism of the scientists and the practicalities of politics.

        One thing they all agree on. Whatever we do this virus will be around a very long time.

      2. @drycrust is there not a debate over whether a rolling start really is safer, or is in fact more dangerous because the drivers are arriving into the first braking zone at even higher speed than they normally would whilst the field is still relatively closely bunched up?

        After all, there have been complaints in recent years that, when restarting after recent safety cars, there has been a tendency for accidents to occur (i.e. that one safety car tends to induce a second one) – might that in fact have the opposite impact for what you are suggesting?

        With regards to your comment about having the cars “already built up and ready to race when it arrives at the track”, right now that really is not possible – indeed, relatively few series can transport their cars without having to at least partially disassemble them, ranging from issues with loading to simple spatial constraints on what can actually fit within a standard shipping container or HGV.

        As for the comments about the pit crews, it is worth bearing in mind that those are the same mechanics who normally work on the cars. Even the biggest teams do not have people dedicated solely to pit crew duty – it’s regular mechanics who double up on that duty as a secondary task – which is why, to some extent, those who have called for cutting pit crew sizes to save money might find that the savings are rather minimal to non existent. In this case, it begs the question of whether you’d really reduce the numbers, as chances are a large number of those mechanics are needed there for other duties anyway.

        1. The problems discussed above are the reasons I suggested that Silverstone, closed to the public, represented the only chance of holding a series of real races this year, or for at least 6 months, and even then there would need to be some changes to reduce the number of people at the track ( pit crew, marshalls etc.)

        2. Anon, My thanks for highlighting the short comings in my suggestion. The problem though, goes back to we are dealing with a virus that benefits from travel, that benefits from people being in close proximity, and primarily benefits from people that don’t respect it. Fundamentally it seems like F1 hasn’t thought about respecting the virus. Look at the current Caption Competition photo if you don’t believe me. We need to address that problem above the others before we can restart the racing. Maybe the only way F1 teams can race is via the virtual world, but I’d like to think real cars on real tracks is possible, but to do that changes will need to be made. That is partly why I made those suggestions, because I want to see real cars on real tracks.
          It seems like the only trick F1 knows is waiting for the Corona virus to go extinct. I think there’s more chance of finding a dodo than that happening this year.
          Traditionally, when F1 had a choice between waiting for a glacier to melt or adapting, then it would adapt, yet that is the thing I’m not hearing or seeing in their media reports about adapting: there’s no sense of urgency, no sense of wanting to adapt, waiting for the glacier to melt is starting to sound attractive, no one seems to know what to do. I just don’t believe Williams will survive this season if we don’t get back to racing soon. Do you want to see Williams on the track next year? This isn’t about reducing cost, it could cost more, but this is all about racing, preferably with real cars, while keeping everyone safe and respecting the virus.
          The horse has bolted, things won’t return to the way they were, change has to happen.
          With regard to the width of a shipping container, I read the door width is 233 cm. Is that wide enough to push a complete car in?

    3. @dbradock Shortening the weekend is part of the plan for maximising the number of salvageable races.

  4. But there still couldn’t be a race on every single weekend – three consecutive weekends at max.

    The Racer-post:
    “We could basically try to go to the 20th of June and see if we have to cancel it or not. But operationally we might have to downsize the capacity at some stage because we will not have enough time anymore to build enough grandstands, for example.”
    – But since Circuit Paul Ricard is a permanent circuit, the grandstands are already in place all-year-round, aren’t they? Nevertheless, I like his words concerning the matter overall.

    1. It might it be that as a test-track, Paul Ricard usually do not have a all of them up @jerejj, I do recall them an extra set, for example, at that mistral chicane.

      1. @bosyber you are correct that, although Paul Ricard is a permanent circuit, because it has been heavily used as a test track for quite a few years, there aren’t that many permanent grandstands at the circuit.

        As recently as 2008, the circuit only had a few hundred permanent seats – it appears that it was only in 2009 that, with the addition of a new 4,400 seat grandstand, the circuit increased it’s capacity to 5,000 permanent seats (I think the total capacity of the circuit was only around 10,000 back then).

        Even with the recent work to increase capacity just before the first Grand Prix there, whilst the circuit claims to have installed 46,000 permanent seats in 2018, it looks like about 40,000 of those seats aren’t actually permanent, but only semi-permanent: on top of that, they then usually add another 12,000 seats in temporary grandstands just for the Grand Prix.

        1. @anon Great information!

  5. Warm up Friday, Practice Saturday morning best times set grid. Race one on Saturday afternoon and race two on Sunday.

    1. @blik If truly necessary, we could even have a single practise session determine qualifying, followed by a short race where qualifying would normally be (half the length of a standard race and half points – this is to fit the TV slot) and the usual race on Sunday afternoon.

  6. @keithcollantine not sure whether you changed the site very recently, or whether I just didn’t register it before today, but have to say the green notifier about post being, well posted gives a nicely interactive feeling, and I think it was also noticeably faster as well. Might be helped by internet at this early hour – when looking at time 24h ago – not yet being as loaded as it has been this week, but site sure feels more snappy.

    Also have to say, stepping up to the challenge with the way you cover and analyse the sim/e-/online race activities; I have switched of from most of them this weekend w. other plans, but it’s great to have a good insight in what’s worth the time and when/where to experience it. I should not be surprised, as you already did a great job for the outside motorsports for years, but it bears calling out: happy to be a supporter.

  7. I can see them having Saturday as practice then roll up qualifying and race into Sunday. I actually think it works better that way to be honest.

    1. qualifying and race on Sunday just means a lot of people won’t watch qualifying. Remember in 05 they didn’t even bother showing it on tv.

    2. @slowmo As a temporary thing to through the current situation 2 day weekends would be acceptable, But as a permanent thing it’s a horrible idea that just offers fans less value.

      It cost’s a lot to travel to & attend an F1 race, Especially if your traveling to another country & a 2 day weekend just isn’t worth the cost as far as i’m concerned.

      And Sunday morning qualifying would be tricky in terms of getting fans in. In some places transportation can be difficult early Sunday morning & fans still tend to be getting into the circuit in the hour before the start of the race. I could just see Sunday qualifying taking place with hardly anyone watching like when it was tried in 2005 & very quickly dropped.

      1. @roger-ayles I appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but from the perspective of a home viewer, it’s pretty good to be able to watch it all on one day and makes it more of an event. Just from the perspective of more casual viewers, expecting them to dedicate their entire weekend to the sport to watch all the action is a big ask. It would also be better from a team and driver perspective shortening the weekend time at tracks.

        As for fans paying to travel all that way to races and what not, they could actually put more events around the weekend. Long term though, perhaps we shouldn’t have people flying around the world simply to follow a sport given the significant environmental impact.

        I wouldn’t worry too much though as any changes in F1 are always shouted down by the teams or fanbase. It’s literally a sport being left in the last century.

  8. If Formula One goes to a 2 day format that surely will have have a knock-on to the ticket prices as the bedrock is the 3 day ticket to cover practice, qualifying and race. Extra support races probably won’t make a difference to the punters’ expectations.

    If promoters keep the prices the same (or rising) will they lose audience and risk a loss maker. If they don’t will they make a loss anyway if they reduce prices for a 2 day ticket?

    It will be a very tricky marketing decision even for those races where local governments are subsidising the event.

  9. I’m not very impressed by Abiteboul’s comments about the budget cap (he doesn’t like it).
    He seems to think they can only win by outspending others.
    To me a real business leader tries to win by outsmarting others; having a budget cap would even make that easier.

  10. I’m sure we can happily cut out the national anthems and the DC interviews as they climb out of their cars in Parc ferme. Very happily.

    AS for Friday practice I’m really not so sure. People asking to reduce the present 3 day format are hoping for racing in 2020 and a concertina of races in a shorter time frame.

    That is a forlorn hope indeed, like hoping the Titanic might re-surface intact from under the sea and press on and complete the voyage too New York.

    1. like hoping the Titanic might re-surface intact from under the sea and press on and complete the voyage too New York.

      You should’ve put a spoiler alert; I was just about to force myself watching the extended version of Cameron ‘moving picture’.

      1. PS for those of you who are still interested, here’s the link.

        1. @coldfly – most excellent link my friend – thanks.

  11. @keithcollantine thx for the CoD. I really wish for FIA to find a way to be able to use rfactor2 or iRacing. This 2 for me are the best as matter physics for online gaming.

  12. Racing clockwise on Saturday and counter-clockwise on Sunday would be entertaining.

    1. @jimfromus Wouldn’t be possible as the runoff/barriers & things like the gaps for cars to be recovered & pit lane entry/exits are all designed for a circuit to be run one way.

      Think of Eau Rouge for instance. As it is you have lots of runoff at the top where cars are likely to go off, If you run it the other way where cars would go off you have no runoff, a gap in the barriers on the right & a concrete wall on the exit on the left.

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