Start, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

Liberty planning 24-race F1 calendars with some events rotating

2020 F1 season

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Liberty Media intends to continue adding more events to the Formula 1 schedule and rotate between some venues in coming seasons.

The sport’s commercial rights holder recently confirmed a record-breaking 23-race 2021 F1 calendar, including a new event in Saudi Arabia. Chairman and CEO Chase Carey told an an investors’ meeting today that growth will continue.

“Looking beyond 2021 we continue to feel great about the excitement from locations around the world in hosting Formula 1,” he said. “Many locations we raced at this year expressed great interest in new races and other countries have stronger than ever interest.

“We expect to move to a 24-race calendar in the next few years and will probably rotate a few races so we will be able to accommodate a few new partners. But they will be limited as long term partnerships continue to be our priority.”

The 2020 schedule was heavily disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. F1 was forced to delay the start of its season, races were cancelled, rescheduled or replaced, and mostly held without spectators.

But Carey expects the sport will “provide an experience close to normal” for fans in 2021.

“We will also look to bringing the Paddock Club back to our events. We have great plans for the Paddock Club, which were deferred this year, and expect it to be a significant contributor to our long-term growth. We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus. In fact, many hosts actually want to use our event as a platform to show the world they are moving forward.”

Start, Albert Park, 2019
2021 F1 calendar: Full 23-race schedule
Carey said F1 has outstripped other sports in attracting attention from fans despite the disrupted 2020 calendar.

“The fans have reacted to the revised season and new venues very well,” he said. “While many sports have struggled with viewership declines this year, our viewership is up modestly over last year. To achieve these results in a season with Mercedes dominance and Ferrari’s struggles, while so many other sports have seen steep declines is a solid achievement.

“Our digital growth has been more dramatic. Formula 1 is the fastest growing sport league in terms of followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, with a 17%-plus growth rate between March and September. F1 also saw the highest year on year growth rate for social engagement, with growth of 70% which is more than three times higher than its closest competitor, La Liga, which saw an increase of over 22%.”

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34 comments on “Liberty planning 24-race F1 calendars with some events rotating”

  1. Sure, rotating in races to have more variety, get events on the calendar that otherwise wouldn’t make it on is a great idea.

    Not thrilled about 24 races. I think it will be too much to follow for all fans who have a family, have to work during (some) weekends, or just have a rich social life and spend weekends out of the house. Does that matter to Liberty? Probably not, they just want us to sign up to Sky (and variants in each market) or their F1 TV.
    And book overpriced hotels / campings to maybe get 2 days of racing. I guess that is what will happen anyway.

    1. Si (@simislakkinen)
      19th November 2020, 21:35

      Genuine question, a lot of F1 fans always seem to show reistance to more races, why is that? I get that it adds pressure to teams, especially mechanics etc that end up spending long periods working hard away from home, and F1 events are considerably more logistically complex, which are good reasons. But speaking purely as a fan, I enjoy F1 and personally would like more of it. You don’t have to watch them all live. I don’t follow football but do those fans complain about their teams playing 40–50 matches a year?

      1. Honestly no idea why a lot of fans have resistance to it, I’m so happy that there’s going to be more coming over the next few years.

      2. Well @simislakkinen, the thing is, once you stop following races, i find it just disappears off your schedule though. That is how I ended up seeing hardly any races between mid 2001 and midway through 2005 really.

        It means you lose track of what is going on during the season and instead of really being into it, you end up just casually seeing a few results here and there. Maybe you even go through the trouble of reading up on them?

        I don’t know how large a portion of fans regularly watch not live racing, I just have never found the motivation to look at a whole race once it wasn’t live. I suspect a pretty large portion of fans will stop following the sport as intensively, many already have in recent years.

        With football, don’t forget that for many fans a big part of the enjoyment is actually GOING to a decent amount of those games. Something no normal F1 fan is able to afford.

        1. I usually watch racing that is not live.
          It makes no difference to how enjoyable it is as it’s the content that is most important – but it’s a lot more convenient to watch it when I have time, rather than having to make time.

          I wonder why people need it to be live to enjoy it. What are they even watching it for? Until they’ve seen it all, they don’t know what happened, even if they know the final result already.
          How did that result come about? That’s the interesting part.
          If they don’t care how, perhaps they aren’t really all that interested anyway.

          1. Well, each to their own, I guess.

            To me it just is different between watching the whole thing live and watching afterwards. Afterwards, I far more enjoy if I get just the more interesting bits served in a summary.

            But reasing it was pretty much a “Fastest driver in fastest car won from pole with second fastest car in second and teammate of winner 3rd” does not motivate me to watch a race in more than a couple of minutes of highlights, if at all. I could have been fine watching that live, before knowing what will happen.

          2. @bascb
            Well, that’s content quality problem, then. Not a timing problem.
            If the races and results were more variable and unpredictable, you’d probably be more interested in knowing how they came about.

        2. I haven’t been watching races contantly for the last 5 years or more, even though I would like to. I have a 5 year old child, and even before that it was not always easy to catch the race. I think I managed to watch 4-5 races live this year, and a few more partially. Sometimes I just have to settle for the yoube highlights.
          I watch races online, as they are distributed by the sports TV station of my internet provider. I don’t even pay for cable, I just pay for the internet which is about 10 euros. Now I would like to be able to watch races on Sunday evenings, but I am not keen on paying 60 (?) euros for F1 TV Pro. And even if I do, would I dedicate 24 Sunday evenings to this? Maybe just to get my money’s worth!

      3. The more races there are, the less significant they are. If you have one bad weekend, there are plenty of other weekends to make up for it. It takes away the drama.

      4. <> are they paid proportionally? After all, it IS a “job”.

      5. @simislakkinen Part of it for me is that as more races get added each one starts to feel less special. Back when we had 16/17 races with 2-3 weeks between them each race weekend felt like a big event, You would look forward to getting to that weekend & when it ended you would eagerly await the next. And with a season that started in late March & ended in late October you had a 4-5 month off-season to recharge & eagerly await the start of the next.

        As we went above 20 races it’s just started to feel like all your doing every weekend is watching F1 with very little time for anything else…. Especially since Liberty pushed race start times an hour later which now makes it seem like it takes up more of the day/weekend than it used to.

        I love F1, I really do & I love watching every race live & have done so for every race since 1995. But the more races that have been added beyond 18-19 the more like a chore some of them have started to feel to watch & the less special each one feels. And yes I know I don’t have to watch them all, But for me each race is like a chapter of a book that each tell’s it’s own story. You miss one & maybe you miss an important detail, A part of the story that becomes important later on.

        And another issue is that more races on more weekends means more clashes with other things. I’m sure many here are a fan of the sport rather than just a fan of F1 so will have other categories (And maybe other sports) they enjoy watching & watching everything you want to will probably get more difficult as F1 add’s more. I already don’t watch a few things I used to because of the more regular clashes with F1 & that will only get a bit worse with 23/24 races.

      6. @simislakkinen Fans don’t want to experience the ordeal of just one guy winning day in and day out. With more races, they have to endure more of that.

    2. I’m a big fan of ‘rotating venues’. It’s makes the race more ‘special’, and teams will be less prepared if visiting only every other/third year.

      I understand that more races are required to pay the owners and teams (hopefully 13 soon) a fair amount. I prefer an expensive innovating sport over an overly cost capped standardised sport. And the only way to get that is by increasing revenue.
      A way to overcome an 11 month every 2nd week race calendar is to have triple header sub championships in regions. (3-week North America, 3-week ME, 3-week SE Asia, etc.).

    3. This is exactly what I have accused Liberty of wanting from the day they took over @bascb

      I believe that their interest in the actual F1 races is minimal. Owning F1 gives them the opportunity to take over large areas for three days. This is why they are pushing for city circuits like Miami etc.

      Imagine being able to shut down the traffic in a different major city all over the world 24 times a year and own all the rights to broadcasting and merchandise. Have a monopoly on food and drink etc etc.

      In my opinion that is the Liberty Media dream.

      I can understand it but I do not intend supporting it.

  2. 24, the maximum (reportedly at least) in the upcoming CA, is only one more than the currently planned figure for next season, so not really a difference, but anyway, rotation is indeed the only way to get more tracks appearing in the championship. I wonder which tracks would get chosen as the ones for this purpose? I’d rotate Circuit de Catalunya and Jerez (or Portimao), or rather get rid of the former and rotate between Jerez and Portimao in place of Montmelo. Mugello and or Imola could also enter this specific rotation group, even Circuit Paul Ricard. Monza I’d rather keep for every season due to its uniqueness layout-wise.

  3. Well the 23-24-or-more race calendars are inevitable and frankly the only way most of us aren’t going to get bored, is only if there is a big championship battle between many different teams like 2010, 2012 that goes to the last race. Other than that, if a team dominates, like Mercedes do right now, most people would lose their interest by half way point and the rest of the championship would be ‘optional’ instead of ‘must watch’.
    Ideally the calendar should have been capped at 20 races and even then it should feature some rotating venues.
    Persnonally my ideal calendar would look like:
    #1 Australia
    #2 Malaysia / China / India [rotating]
    #3 Bahrain
    #4 Spain (Motorland Aragon) / Portugal (Portimao) [rotating]
    #5 Europe [rotating each year between classic European venues like Mugello, Brands Hatch, Imola, etc]
    #6 Monaco
    #7 Turkey / Russia (Igora Drive) [rotating]
    #8 Canada
    #9 France (Magny-Cours) / Netherlands [rotating]
    #10 Hungary / Austria [rotating]
    #11 Great Britain
    #12 Germany [rotating between Nurburgring and Hockenheim]
    #13 Belgium
    #14 Italy
    #15 Singapore
    #16 Japan
    #17 South Africa (Kyalami)
    #18 United States [rotating between Austin and Indianapolis]
    #19 Mexico / Argentina
    #20 Brazil
    No triple-headers, mostly standalone races (two week gap till the next one) and 5-6 back-to-backs max. Like the ‘old’ days…

    1. @black The biggest issue I’ve had with the calendar the last few years is not having Brazil as the final race. Changeable weather, amazing passionate crowd makes for an amazing final event. Instead we get Abu Dhabi, one of the worst tracks, never an rain & a tiny crowd compared to Sao Paolo.

  4. It’s reaching saturation point for me already.
    I have other interests and things to do. 24 races would almost certainly be too many so I would have to miss some.
    If I can’t follow F1 closely and enjoy each race then I guarantee my enthusiasm will wane.

    Each good race that I miss and each poor one that I follow will only drive me away faster and make F1 just another bit of background noise in my life :(

    1. It’s already reached saturation point for me this year. For the first time ever I skipped a couple of race.

      I just can’t do triple headers. Even double headers put strain on my work schedule but I can’t afford the time commitments for triple headers so I’ll just have to skip them.

      This year’s saturation, yes it was great that F1 managed to get lots of races done, but it was too packed for me to manage it.

      Next year, I’ll probably watch at best 20 races but more likely 16 – 18 and just read the others results on a site like this.

  5. Doesn’t matter how many races there are. They just need to raise the quality of the racing.
    Increasing predictability, uneventful/unexciting races and extended periods of dominance are ruining F1 – not the number of events on the calendar.

    And it’s easy to see digital media growth in F1 when they had practically nothing until a few years ago.
    Most of that was probably the free full classic races they showed during lockdown.

  6. This should have always been the idea, you take a core of historic and legendary tracks and you make the new boring tracks that you go to for money pay through their nose to be allowed on the calendar at all. As to pay for the historic and legendary tracks.

    Cars change, drivers change, but the historic and legendary tracks are the true star of F1. But for some reason the paradigm seems to be that the track should be changed to what the cars need rather than vice versa.

  7. 24 races? Way too bloody many.

  8. oh come on, let’s stop it already. 20 races per year is enough

  9. Many have echoed my sentiments about there being too many races. It seems to me that judging from comments on here and other sites, the majority of fans don’t really want 23 or 24 races in a season, or more than 20 really. Some would like even less. Except Liberty do of course. I watch nearly every race, the highlights though mostly as I refuse to give money to Sky. Even so I get complaints along the lines of ‘not F1 again’. I know things will change over the years but what is this gaining us?

    As with everything I think it’s all down to the financials. I don’t think Liberty are doing this for their love of the sport. It’s all about the share price and generating income. It’s their show though.

    I do try to watch most races but I am missing more weekends now than I used to. It’s just that life and other needs get in the way. An F1 weekend used to feel really special but for a variety of reasons it is beginning to feel less important. The joy and excitement F1 brings is being diluted.

    Two important factors though moving forward. If the quality and closeness of the racing improves then obviously more people will be keen to watch more often. Then if they start to rotate circuits on the calendar this is a positive thing as we get greater variety. Some of the more interesting circuits introduced this year we may see appearing again and hopefully some of the less exciting ones won’t appear so often e.g. Barcelona, Sochi, Paul Ricard. I don’t think we will see the back of annual visits to Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia as Liberty has sold it’s soul to the Middle Eastern autocrats.

  10. 16-17 is about right, but I can tolerate 20. 24 is far too many and devalues each race.

    Liberty are out of ideas though because they aren’t as good at negotiating hosting fees like Bernie was.

  11. So what are we supposed to do during the other 28 weekends?

  12. On the one hand they say: “The fans have reacted to the revised season and new venues very well.” But that they will limit those venues because “long term partnerships continue to be our priority.”

    Look, part of the reason so many people watched this year was because there were limited other sports on. But another part of why we enjoyed some of the races this year is because they were different tracks.

    If you are going to do a 20-24 race season, I think 1/3 to 1/2 should have some rotation. We know that you need to keep some of the big races, British GP, Monaco, Monza, Spa, etc. But some of the others should be able to rotate. Reduce the fees necessary so the tracks can live with a race every other year. Rotate the German GP again. Have Imola and Mugello alternate, Baku and Turkey, etc. You would broaden the audience with new (return of old) tracks, without alienating entire populations by leaving the country forever.

    If you won’t do that, Liberty, please at least cut the horrible tracks (e.g. Sochi).

    1. You can’t devalue the fees paid by tracks on rotation without other circuits asking why am I paying $50 million to host while this gets the race for effectively nothing?

      Monaco gets a race for nothing but that race brings more attention to F1 than any other.

      I random race in Turkey or at Mugello won’t bring any additional casual viewers.

      At some point other tracks will be wondering why they are effectively subsidising Mugello.

      Bernie had it right.

  13. The workload of F1 people will be tough, but as a spectator I’m willing to try 24.

    I don’t see the value of each race being diminished. Maybe it will even be better when a DNF will have less impact on the championship.

  14. Bring back the Nürburgring-Hockenheim yearly rotation.

  15. Interesting. I like that idea.

    1. Miami
    2. Australia
    3. Singapore
    4. Bahrain (Day)
    5. Vietnam
    6. China
    7. Japan
    8. Azerbaijan
    9. Spain (Aragon)/Portugal (Algarve)
    10. Monaco
    11. Hungary/Czech (Brno)
    12. France (Ricard/somewhere else)
    13. Holland/Austria
    14. Britain (Silverstone/Donington Park (modified))
    15. Germany (Hockenheim/Nurburgring)
    16. Finland (Kymi)
    17. Belgium
    18. Italy (Monza/Imola/Mugello)
    19. Canada
    20. Indianapolis (new 4.2 mi circuit)
    21. Brazil
    22. Mexico
    23. Austin
    24. Abu Dhabi

    1. Actually: Hungary/Turkey, maybe some room for South Africa as well.

      1. 1. Miami
        2. Australia
        3. Singapore
        4. Bahrain
        5. South Africa (Kyalami)
        6. China
        7. Japan
        8. Azerbaijan
        9. Spain (Aragon)/Portugal (Algarve)
        10. Monaco
        11. Hungary/Turkey
        12. France/Czech (Brno)
        13. Holland/Austria
        14. Britain (Silverstone/Donington Park (modified))
        15. Germany (Hockenheim/Nurburgring)
        16. Finland (Kymi)/Russia (Igora)
        17. Belgium
        18. Italy (Monza/Imola/Mugello)
        19. Canada
        20. Indianapolis (new 4.2 mi circuit)
        21. Brazil
        22. Mexico
        23. Austin
        24. Abu Dhabi/Saudi Arabia

        I mean, I would take Saudi Arabia, China, Bahrain,

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