Esteban Ocon, Renault, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

Domenicali wants crowds back at F1 races before end of season

2021 F1 season

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New Formula 1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali is hopeful fans can be admitted to races once again before the end of the year.

The 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.

Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas, Bahrain, 2020
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“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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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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9 comments on “Domenicali wants crowds back at F1 races before end of season”

  1. I think we all “want” that, but is he being sensible and realistic about it or not? We will likely have a crowd in Russia, like last year, but what does that really mean?

    1. Pretty much exactly what I was just going to comment @eurobrun!

      I guess Russia, maybe Baku, possibly Saudi Arabia, Baku and maybe others too will allow in a modest public like the “reward our medics” crowds we’ve seen at several events. I guess they might try to get VIPs in at a few of those races too.

      Realistically we are highly unlikely to see large crowds this year, or really before the majority of the world is vaccinated. Which might take us well into 2022 for Asia, Africa parts of South America and who knows how we’ll even fare in the USA, Canada and in Europe – probably earliest towards the end of Fall of this year.

      1. @bascb Baku definitely, or else it won’t go ahead. The same for Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, we’re still a little away from large crowds being suitable. The vaccination rate will indeed determine for a large part how soon.

  2. China will face a cancellation for the second consecutive year unless Australia loses out after all, or some other events drop. No other way.
    Yes, likely still races without a spectator attendance, although there are ones in the mix that need attendance, such as street tracks.

  3. At the end of the year we’ll visit some countries that will have a pretty well executed vaccination process pretty much behind them, so I expect crowds will be possible.

    1. It depends on whether they will let in visitors though @aiii. Probably only those that were vaccinated too. And even then they might still insist on a quarantine period.

  4. I dont think any of us are good at seeing a different picture than the one we are currently in. It feels impossible but, in the UK anyway, we are rolling out the vaccine very quickly albeit with shockingly high death rates and by Feb we should, should, be at 2 mill a week.

    Doesn’t feel likely I will get to go to my home GP, there will probably be a ballot but thats problematic if you are going and camping with a group, which most people will be.

    Things like temperature guns are a waste of time, a lot of the time they register temperatures like 26 degrees, a temperature at which you would already be dead. But something is needed on entry to sporting events that adds a layer of protection to all those there.

    1. @tonymansell in the last week we’ve done 2 million vaccinations in the UK (13 Jan – 20 Jan). Bag of a fag packet maths would suggest if we keep this up (big if) we could have 40 million first vaccinations by July – the bulk of the adult population.

      The fact all grandstands are open air (and most without a roof) at Silverstone naturally helps stop potential spread of COVID. I’d be disappointed if they don’t try and get some spectators back there.

      However, I do wonder if they will just cancel all spectators so they can get a full claim on insurance. That might be more financially beneficial than allowing some in and not getting any insurance payout.

      1. Yes that thought occurred to me about the stands being open air or very airy, but its also time you spend next to someone as well as if its inside. If they insist on double spacing up and across each stand then less than 50% can go. Nightmare scenario is the vaccine doesn’t prevent you infecting others, but then if it just gives you very mild symptoms then does it matter. I dont know what to think really but the more I do the less it feels it will happen.

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