Start, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

Motorsport “super-weekends” could prevent “turf wars” over race dates

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Motorsport promoters will have to be prepared to share dates and not engage in “turf wars” over available slots to hold races once restrictions on public events are lifted, says the FIA’s deputy president for sport.

Speaking to the FIA’s official publication Auto, Graham Stoker warned race organisers will need to be flexible and accommodating in order to maximise the number of events which can be held following the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“It will be an enormously competitive and potentially very crowded environment,” said Stoker, “and in one way that’s what we’ve got to hope for. We want to see the return of the enormously vibrant and diverse motor sport environment we are used to. However, it will need very careful management.

“When we look at things such as the International Sporting Code and international sporting calendar, the approach has to be flexible. It’s crucial that we prioritise the staging of events.

“What would be counter-productive would be to get involved in turf wars. Let’s not get involved in disputes about who has got which slot and what prior agreements might specify – that approach will not work. The main priority is get motor sport going again and if that means some ‘super weekends’ with multiple events happening, in co-operation and with flexibility, well, why not?”

Some championships have already announced revised calendars after the pandemic forced the cancellation of hundreds of races earlier this year. Stoker urged championship promoters to co-operate where possible.

“Just getting grassroots events or medium-level national events up and running, so that the confidence comes back, is very important,” said Stoker. “Motor sport has got to pull together, and we’ve got to have flexibility in terms of events and venues and thinking outside the box in order to get things going again in a spectacular way that will obviously attract public interest.

“We should also demonstrate that motor sport remains relevant and a positive influence, through its messaging and actions.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2020 F1 season articles, F1 newsTags , ,

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 10 comments on “Motorsport “super-weekends” could prevent “turf wars” over race dates”

    1. ColdFly (@)
      2nd May 2020, 10:11

      The main priority is get motor sport going again and if that means some ‘super weekends’ with multiple events happening, in co-operation and with flexibility, well, why not?”

      What’s a ‘super weekend’ in which promotors co-operate?
      I can only think of the Dutch and Belgium GP working together and organising a race from Spa to Zandvoort. This is just shy of 300km thus leaving space for a single lap on each circuit.

      1. @coldfly Multiple series, including at least two that would usually headline weekends, having their events on the same weekend. An example is the WEC/NAEC event in Sebring, where the world and American sportscar championships have one of their premium events on the same track, on the same weekend, on the same ticket.

        This will be far more aimed at national series than international, though I could foresee some sprint Asian/American series choosing to fold some of their events into F1 weekends instead of running a standalone event. Not so much in Europe, given that F1 has three support series and not much flexibility there, but none of them follow F1 across the whole world and not all the gaps are filled at present.

        For example, two events I have attended in recent years have been BTCC and European Superkart Championship. Both can compete on the same grade of track; both have relatively sparse support listings (I think there’s three series each, none of which are especially long races). In theory, instead of having to book two weekends for all those races, they could have a three-day weekend (including Friday, most likely), working non-televised and flexi-televised series around the fixed, pre-reserved TV slots BTCC has.

        Alternatively, some one-day events could band together to become two-day weekends, and see whether they can accommodate another series into the combined “free time” (it’s easier to do this if you have two days in which to look for that spare time than one). I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but the theory is there.

        The other option is to fill schedule gaps without changing the number of days involved. A couple of series have already canned the year, either due to low entries anticipated or because they doubt their ability to hold the appropriate event count for their championship rules (these are more flexible for national than international events, but competitors still worry about championships that are too short to be worth entering). This leads to gaps. Series would be encouraged to invite other series taking the same amount of time onto the schedule, even if that race would usually headline a weekend in its own right. An example is the Goodwood Revival. If there was a schedule gap for some reason, and there was a historical series that would normally have a standalone, that historical series could combine with the Revival to solve the schedule gap and free a weekend up somewhere in the UK (where the historical series would otherwise have raced).

        There are several reasons why this is helpful for national-level series:

        – It is cheaper for all series involved (they’re paying for 25% less track time and probably being charged at least 15% less because Friday is less valuable than Saturday or Sunday). Some series struggle for money at the best of times, and a little less running in order to be able to fund 2021 better may be a blessing in disguise.

        – Marshall recruitment is generally easier, the bigger the race weekend. It’s always an issue, but especially this year as some venues had training for new marshals disrupted by COVID-19 (for example, Donington Park had a marshall training event that was due the week lockdown started, in combination with its first race weekend of the season). A shortage of marshalls means that care has to be taken to not lose more to apathy. (In some places, notably the UK’s South Midlands region, venues will face issues because some marshals commute to multiple tracks but can only be in one place at a time. However, most places are more likely to have the “apathy” issue).

        – It guarantees the tracks more days of revenue, and it frees up a weekend for a different set of series to compete – meaning other series are less likely to be forced to cancel races. It’s quite difficult to co-ordinate that many series, especially as established groupings tend to accumalate obligations that depend on typical arrangements – such as the BTCC’s fixed-by-TV-obligation time slots. Those arrangmeents are the #1 fuel for the turf wars Graham dislikes… …and the example also demonstrates that it’s not always in the gift of series promoters to unilaterally adapt to the compressed availability.

        – Spectators see better value for money than otherwise, and are more likely to pay (as well as likely to pay more money, in some cases). They also see more variety of racing, meaning they’re more likely to follow more series next year, potentially earning motorsport more enthusiasm and more money in the longer term.

        Hope this helps.

    2. Cooperation …. in motorsports….. I just spat a bit of my coffee and nearly choked I was laughing so much.

      Kinda makes you wonder how they’re going to fit 18 races in if there’s a need to make room for WEC, MotoGP and local competitions etc as well.

      1. @dbradock But that wouldn’t be the case this time due to the circumstances. Everyone just needs to leave the usual ‘making a fuss out of weekend-clashes’ aside.

        1. Ah yes, I stand corrected thank you.

    3. I expect there will be a lot of clashes with MotoGP no matter how much both F1 and Motogp try to avoid each other due to compressed calander arising due to current human malware.

    4. Nice in theory but difficult in practice.

      You have different series all with there own commercial arrangements, Broadcast deals as well as things like timing equipment/software which may not be compatible with whats been used by other categories.

      And then you also have pit/paddock space issues, Something that is a bigger issue with the need for social distancing measures. Some circuits may have additional pit/paddock facilities but if F1 takes F2/F3/Porsche Supercup with them then clearly those facilities won’t be available for additional categories.

      1. @gt-racer what is not entirely clear to me from the quotes above is whether the comments about “super weekends” was necessarily about holding multiple races at the same venue, but rather about the issue of multiple races at different venues being held on the same date.

        There had been talk about, for example, the World Endurance Championship trying to avoid holding races on the same dates as F1 races, or equally IMSA events, so they could maximise their own individual audiences. This sounds to me more like different series worrying about a potential split in their audiences by holding multiple events on the same day that overlap with each other.

      2. @gt-racer What @anon points out.

    5. I don’t like the idea that running in such a crowded calendar. Yes, having racings is far more better than having none. But a crowded calendar could make those teams ahead at the begining of the season win the world champion much easier than ever. How many times the Reb Bull came back to the top after summer break? And how many times did the Ferrari fall at the same time… Yes, many different tracks might increase the ornamental. But is it still F1?

    Comments are closed.