New Formula 1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali is hopeful fans can be admitted to races once again before the end of the year.2021 F1 calendar features 23 races but has already been disrupted due to the continuing pandemic. The planned season-opened in Australia has been postponed to November, and a new date is being sought for a race in China, which was due to host round three.
But Domenicali, who has taken over from Chase Carey in charge of Formula 1 Management, drew optimism from the fact F1 was able to hold a championship last year.
“In the short term, we need to make sure that the 2021 season can start in the right way,” he told Sky.
“We are still in the pandemic situation. But in credit to Chase and all F1 people last year, a full season was done, 17 races, and no one would have thought that was possible at the beginning. So I think that is a credit to what Chase and all these people did.”
The cancellation of many planned races last year, and the fact almost every round took place behind closed doors, significantly reduced F1’s income. F1 owners Liberty Media made many changes to help teams bear the impact of the consequent reduction in prize money.
“In all fairness I think that what Liberty did in order to be ready to help the teams, it was an incredible gesture,” said Domenicali. However he accepted the absence of fans from races diminished the sport’s value to sponsors. “You cannot have sponsors that are not happy to [not] have guests around the world because you cannot offer them the service,” he said.
Domenicali is keen to see the sport return to something approaching normality by the end of the year.
“I want to be optimistic,” he said. “I hope that this year is really the transitional year versus the end of the situation, because if this crisis will go a bit longer for sure, this is something that could jeopardise the success of what we are talking about.
“But we really hope that within the end of 2021 we are having already at the end of the season grands prix that are having the objective of having crowds back again around the grandstand.”
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