Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

F1 to reveal calendar strategy as Domenicali says 30 promoters want races

2022 F1 season

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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has caused a stir by indicating he has enough interest from promoters to fill 30 places on the calendar.

His remarks were immediately seized upon by some as being evidence he is planning a 30-race F1 calendar. However, Domenicali indicated he has another approach in mind to take advantage of the growing interest from those who want to hold races.

The 2022 F1 calendar was supposed to feature a record 23 rounds. However one of those venues is currently listed as ‘to be confirmed’.

Domenicali’s team is presently engaged in finding a replacement for the Russian Grand Prix, which was cancelled indefinitely in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Following the outbreak of war last month he told investors he expects “no problem at all” replacing the race.

He underlined that confidence in an interview for Sky last week, saying F1 has “potential to go to 24” races in the future. “I would say there is potential to go to 30,” he added, indicating the level of interest from those wishing to hold races. These are believed to include a third race in the USA, where F1’s popularity is rising.

Start, Bahrain, 2022
F1 will race in Bahrain until 2036
However F1’s contracts with teams and the FIA, known as the Concorde Agreement, caps the number of races per year at 24. Team principals are increasingly unwilling to subject their staff to longer and longer calendars. Just last week the FIA said it is rotating the role of race director between two people this year to ease the burden upon them.

Even among those who feel their employees should be happy to cover so many races, there is a feeling that more race weekends would be too much of a good thing.

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said last October that “we all should be happy that we are in a position to be in Formula 1 and to have 23 races and if someone doesn’t like it then he should go.” But ahead of the new season he commented: “For me 23 races is the absolute limit, not from the workload point of view, but because I am concerned that with such a high number of races, in the end it could cause people to lose interest in Formula 1.”

Rather than a NASCAR-style schedule of months featuring a race every weekend, Domenicali indicated he is considering a new approach to bring F1 to more locations.

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“We need to be balanced, we need to see what are the other opportunities,” he said. “Very soon we are going to tell everyone what is our strategy to develop that market.”

What is that strategy likely to be? Since taking over as Liberty Media’s F1 chief at the end of last year, Domenicali has overseen the introduction of key innovations to the calendar.

Poll: Are F1’s revised sprint races an improvement over last year?
The first was the creation of ‘sprint qualifying’, which has been renamed ‘the sprint’ for 2022, which he says there is strong appetite for among promoters. The response among fans has been mixed, however, and not as uniformly positive as F1 tends to portray. Domenicali’s hopes of increasing the number of sprint races from three to six this year were dashed when some teams demanded more money.

In an attempt to ease the strain F1’s 23-race calendar has placed on teams this year, the weekend schedule has been compressed. Friday’s track sessions are now held later in the day, allowing the drivers press conference to take place in the morning instead of on Thursdays, which is intended to allow teams to bring more of their staff to tracks later in the week. It remains to be seen how significant a change this will prove.

If teams are unwilling to accept more rounds, and doubtful there is enough interest to sustain them, how will Domenicali accommodate greater interest from promoters? The likeliest solution would be to rotate some round between multiple venues.

That would mean certain tracks hold races in alternate years. To accommodate 30 events within a 24-race calendar, six slots would need to rotate each year.

Expect those who are prepared to pay the most to get an annual race. It may be significant that F1 has announced long-term deals with some of its top-paying promoters recently. Qatar signed a 10-year deal last season, Abu Dhabi renewed until 2030, while Bahrain recently extended its contract to 2036.

Domenicali also indicated he wants to expand F1 into regions which are lacking races, such as Africa, which last held a grand prix almost three decades ago. But expect the balance of the calendar to remain tipped in favour of those prepared to pay the most.

The final South African Grand Prix was the 24th in the continent of Africa. At that time F1’s first race in the Middle East was still a decade away. F1 will hold its 35th race in the Middle East this weekend, also its fifth in a row. Expect the region to account for a larger proportion of F1’s events in the future.

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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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47 comments on “F1 to reveal calendar strategy as Domenicali says 30 promoters want races”

  1. Some tracks have to get axed simply because not all can fit at once, i.e., within a single season.
    A long-time regular-fixture China (which won’t lose out for a 4th consecutive year anymore), Qatar, possibly also LV next season, so tight with the room.
    French GP is definitely under threat, seemingly more than any other present event, so at least this one, I can see going, but time will tell.
    Yes, the rotational thing, familiar with Nurburgring & Hockenheimring, is possible, but unideal for circuits as they get less income & or benefit from only holding GP every other season versus annually.
    Effectively off for temporary circuits, although equally more unideal for permanents as proven by the Nurburgring-Hockenheimring case.

  2. It would be very cool to have bi-annual races on the calendar to be honest. Going back to tracks you haven’t seen for a bit is exciting in itself, and with the long contracts now, F1 has looked very samey for years on end. The one pro from the Covid-interrupted seasons is seeing some rarer tracks return.

  3. The strategy is to work out the answers to the following questions:

    1) What is the largest number of events we can hold while continuing to increase our overall revenue?
    2) What is the smallest amount of money we can pay the teams to make them nod along with it?

  4. i just want the FIA and liberty to finance a modification of the tracks to be bidirectional, ie that f1 can race in the historical direction, and then in reverse. you get two different races in 1 weekend. just need money and few months of work

    1. That’s completely impossible, I’m afraid.

      The gaps in the barriers that are needed for recovery / marshals etc. will only work in one direction and can’t safely be modified for use in the other direction. Have a look the barriers on the straights at Bahrain and you’ll see what I mean. Even the gates in the pit wall are only homologated for use in one direction.

      1. Impossible is a strong word to use in reference to a technical sport like F1. Those issues, and others, are possible to solve if the demand was there. I believe a more affordable model would be to change the track layout like was done for the Sakhir GP. This has its own set of challenges but is logistically more feasible to do a conversion of this type in a short turnaround.

    2. Do you really want cars coming into the pit lane from the exits at Silverstone, Abu Dhabi, and a few others?

  5. In my opinion there can’t be more races than there are drivers.
    It’s just looks ridicilous.

    1. You’re right. F1 needs more cars and drivers.

      1. Cheeky, and I agree, it would be nice to see 22-24 drivers on the grid.

    2. Totally agree with this. F1 should focus on expanding the grid first

  6. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    23rd March 2022, 13:26

    F1 needs to start considering cycling races… 23 is too many as is!

    1. Hardly seems fair to the guys on the bikes to have to race against F1 cars

  7. Expanding to 30 races is a simple case of more not being better. All it will do is dilute the championships. Each race will matter less in the overall championships and you are likely to see “load balancing” like is seen in the NBA, NHL, and MLB.

    The teams in those leagues are so exhausted that they have to hold players out of games to ensure they make it through the entire season. And when fans show up to a game they paid for and the person they wanted to see compete is being held out for load balancing, it is a bad look. It also says that teams don’t have to compete as hard each match because each match doesn’t carry the same weight as before. A team doesn’t have to give its total effort at multiple matches and it won’t impact their overall standings. For leagues like NBA, NHL, and MLB where they have a built-in legacy in the American market they can get away with this even if it drives the fans crazy. F1 is not nearly established enough in its expanding markets (like the US) to be able to say that this race carries less impact than other races. All it will do is have viewers turn off the TV or upset they bought a ticket.

    1. I luv chicken
      23rd March 2022, 14:28

      If they expanded to close to 30 races, I would watch. At least until they found my rotting corpse on the sofa, not being able to get out for food nor drink.

      1. I’m fairly sure you can get chicken nuggets delivered to your door/sofa wherever you live. Not sure you should though even if it is for the obviously laudable aim of making Formula 1 even happier and richer…

    2. @g-funk 30 in a season won’t happen simply because the upper limit prevents this + no team has enough individual personnel to cover such a high event amount in a year, especially in the budget cap era, etc.
      Domenicali clearly meant something other than 30 in a season, so people shouldn’t have misinterpreted him.
      NBA, NHL, & MLB feature far less travel & no transportation logistics like motorsports, so somewhat apples to oranges, although the load balancing part is valid.

      1. @jerejj I agree in principle that 30 in a season shouldn’t happen because the existing limit prevents this, but just because something is written down doesn’t mean it can’t be changed if the FIA/F1 has enough motivation to do so and can convince the teams it’s worthwhile (aka give them more money). The fact that they continue on with this 30 number is telegraphing their future plans. It’s not a coincidence the expansion numbers Domenicali keeps floating are beyond the existing limits. They are boiling the frog slowly with slow leaks like this.

        1. @g-funk More money for teams wouldn’t solve the issue of insufficient personnel numbers for covering this many events even with a staff rotational format.
          Additionally, off-seasons would be very short, possibly only covering December & January.

  8. Interesting point about load balancing, but I remember a very interesting article on racefans about how many non F1 races drivers used to take part in.

    EG Jim Clark won the championship in 1965. Although there were only 10 races, there were 7 non championship races. He also won the F2 championship, Indy and took part in the touring car championship. Lots more races than todays drivers.

    The capacity issue is not with the drivers, but with the teams. The Drivers, Wolfs and Horners are earning enough cash not to worry about working more races. But I can see a problem for mechanics and other staff.

    If the FIA wants more races they need to
    Cap the number of staff teams can take. There is no law that says they need 20 people to do a pit stop. It could easily be done with 10, perhaps it would take 8 seconds not 3, but if everyone has the same limitation then what’s the problem. That way most staff could go to alternate races.

    I’m all for more races. It would make sense to have more geographic thought about the order of races, but I’d happily watch another 23.

    There is also no reason other than habit to have 3 day events. I like listening to the chat during P1/2/3 but rarely watch them. Let’s have some races where qualifying is at 10am on Sunday, race at 2pm.

    Why can’t we have more races than drivers?
    Why do all races have to be 2 or 3 day events?
    Why do teams have to be so big?
    Why can’t we have 30 or 40 races?

    Come on people – let’s have a bit more of open mind about change here. If the formula is right then more is better.

    1. @Depailler QLF & race on the same day as a norm would be unideal in the long-term as this would increase a DNS risk for drivers.
      Generally, everything has a limit, so such race amounts like 30 or 40 can never work in a global series with transportation logistics, etc.

    2. I’m not sure you can compare the load on racers in 1965 to today. It’s a simplification to say it was a simpler time back then, but it is inarguable that there is much greater demand placed on drivers’ time away from the track in 2022 than in 1965. That takes its toll on the recovery time that is available to a racer. So while the number of races a driver competes in may be less in 2022 than in 1965, the off-track responsibilities more than make up the difference.

      1. @g-funk there are certainly a lot of rather noticeable differences between 1965 and today in terms of what Clark went through. The length of the races could be quite noticeably different, and quite a few of those events that Clark took part in that year were much shorter events than a full Formula 1 race was.

        It should also be borne in mind that the original poster is deliberately cherry picking a one off season, as Clark didn’t continuously do that many races every year. Whilst Clark did do 44 races in 1965, that was the only year he did that – in most seasons, his workload was far lower than it was for that one off year (e.g. only two years earlier, Clark’s 1963 season saw him participate in a total of 23 races that year).

        Clark’s 1965 season was an exception from the norm at that time – if you look at other contemporary drivers, like Ickx, Brabham, Hill or Stewart, they didn’t try to match what Clark was doing. If you look at Clark’s contemporaries, around 20-25 races was a far more usual annual workload.

  9. They need to focus on maybe altering the tracks to make them more overtake friendly and not just the train games that some r. Very boring. We wont be losing the heritage just the boring parts…

  10. Coventry Climax
    23rd March 2022, 15:30

    I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s just to say there is scarcety for the product, and therefor the prices will go up. That’s all LM is about; shareholders.

  11. For those that pay the most….

    There’s the thing about money… and F1’s approach….

    “Free to those that can afford it…”

    which is why we are stuck with Monaco despite it being one of the most turgid and dull races of the year as they don’t pay anything, control all TV output (which is why we didn’t get to see the only action from last years race) because all the cameras are one someone’s balcony, and everyone parties all day and night for a week on boats bigger than the paddock motorhomes used to be before, well, budget caps. I bet entertainment in Monaco is exempt from the Budget cap.
    But all the drivers live there and all the business that gets done there defines who does what for the next 10 years. This is where the corruption of the F1 money making machine is overt and even celebrated. Completely Bonkers

    1. @marvinthemartian I see what you mean concerning Monaco generally, although not all drivers live there.
      Eight among the present regular drivers (Mercedes & Mclaren drivers, LEC, VER, ALB, & BOT).
      World feed direction should move to FOM, though.

  12. This is the first season (in I can’t even recall how many) where I will not be watching every grand prix. It was a conscious decision I made last year as the calendar grew in races. I will be following the results no doubt but I don’t need to dedicate my time to watching races at venues which offer little to no enjoyment for viewers. F1 can have 30+ races, my philosophy will be the same: I will watch the races which interest me.

  13. I think alternating tracks is definitely a good idea and is the way forward to avoid too many good tracks missing out, but it is such a shame that the priority goes to those paying the most, and unfortunately that will always be the case. The Middle-Eastern tracks are not really among the best (Bahrain is decent, Jeddah is exciting but currently dangerous, and the other two are definitely not among the top 23 tracks), yet all four are likely to stay every year for the foreseeable future. I am also not keen on the 3 American tracks idea, and think Miami and Las Vegas should alternate alongside COTA. Hopefully at least the six traditional tracks will not be at risk: Monza, Monaco, Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka and Interlagos should never be ousted from the calendar.

    If I had billions of pounds and could run Formula 1 with money no object, I would want this calendar (where two tracks are listed, they would alternate):

    1. Albert Park. Melbourne should always be the first race of the season, and hopefully it will be again from next year.

    2. Sakhir/Shanghai. Both decent tracks but not good enough to warrant a place on the grid every year in my calendar.

    3. Imola/Magny-Cours. Imola is a good traditional track which is nice to watch the cars on but doesn’t produce exciting enough races for a race every year. Magny-cours because there should be a French GP and I prefer it to Paul Ricard.

    4. Zandvoort. A great track to watch the cars race on and a welcome return to the calendar.

    5. Catalunya/Portimao. The Spanish GP is often branded as boring but I think it’s a very nice track, and Portimao is good for side-by-side racing.

    6. Monaco. Processional races, but is undroppable for the sheer skill required to drive a car around the streets of Monte Carlo.

    7. Montreal. Doesn’t quite hit ‘traditional’ status but still good enough for a race every year. The race here in 2011 was the greatest race of all time.

    8. Baku. One track that always brings drama is required.

    9. Red Bull Ring. One of my favourite tracks, and produces great racing.

    10. Silverstone. The best race track on the calendar. Great to watch a qualifying lap, and side-by-side action in the race.

    11. Hockenheim/Nurburgring. Two great tracks, missed from the current calendar.

    12. Hungaroring/Istanbul. The Hungary track has grown on me in recent years and just misses annual status. And we have yet to see a dry race in Turkey with the current cars.

    13. Spa-Francorchamps. The best track in the world for watching a qualifying lap. Absolutely undroppable.

    14. Monza. Another traditional track that must remain on the calendar.

    15. Brands Hatch/Donington Park. A bit of a wildcard here, but Brands is a beautiful track and the best in the world for touring car racing. Wouldn’t be as good for F1 and there would be little overtaking, but would still be a great addition to the calendar. Donington has hosted just one F1 race, which many believe to be the greatest ever.

    16. Marina Bay/Sepang. Singapore just holds on to a place and would be the only night race, alternating with it’s neighbour which is much-missed and was the site of one of my favourite races in 2012.

    17. Suzuka. Another undroppable traditional track, one of the best for a qualifying lap.

    18. Kyalami/Mexico City. I think we need a race in Africa, but don’t want to drop Mexico.

    19. COTA. One of the best new tracks.

    20. Interlagos. The rightful last race of the season. We will never have a 2008 or 2012 finale at Abu Dhabi.

    I think 20 is the best number for the season, of course with no sprint races, so there is my calendar.

    1. @f1frog One of the best calendars I’ve ever seen. One correction though, I would like to see Indianapolis back instead of COTA. I think it’s amazing to see F1 cars go through the oval section of the track flat out.

      1. @apophisjj I really like COTA, the long uphill drag to the first corner, the twisty section at the top with the frequent cross-winds able to wreak some havoc, some great corners for braking and overtaking on the way back down, some nice twisty bits at the end.

    2. Coventry Climax
      24th March 2022, 9:57

      You remind me of Mr. King: “I have a dream”.
      It’s one I share. And one I wake up from with a bad feeling, again and again.

      1. Coventry Climax
        24th March 2022, 10:01

        To make myself more clear: The bad feeling is from realising what F1 currently is, not from the dream itself.

  14. I love F1, I really do – but there’s no way I’m spending 30 weekends a year watching F1. It takes up a lot of time – about the maximum I can justify now, in the calendar’s current incarnation – and any more will simply mean me missing races and perhaps catching up on F1’s YouTube channel (which will, of course, generate revenue for FOM!). The championship will be diluted, and every race will consequently matter less in terms of % of total points awarded over the course of the season, which will mean I’ll feel less compelled to try to catch every event. From a purely competitive and entertainment perspective per race, there really is no need to have more than 20 rounds. I don’t understand this ceaseless desire for ‘more more more’ – money is not a good enough reason.

    1. F1 is a business, money IS a heck of a good reason, and frankly hours of engagement are, too.
      Doesn’t matter what individuals will do if overall consumption time is increased, revenue grown, etc.

  15. Oh boy. I hope they made the calendar have 30 races and then have some of the most boring F1 seasons ever, where the champion is decided with 10 races to go. That would be awesome.

  16. I’d rather see the expansion to 30 cars before 30 tracks

    1. That would be acceptable ONLY if it were to introduce 3-car teams, and only if there was a cap on how many could actually take part in the actual race (IMHO 16 is a good cap), avoiding too much traffic and too many lapped cars.

  17. there are too many races in the middle east that no one cares about.

    1. Enough capital cares about it to trump the whole of europe

  18. RandomMallard
    23rd March 2022, 21:35

    No thank you, 20 is enough. 22 in 2021 was too long, especially with the added exhaustion of the title battle. I was getting fatigue just watching it as a fan

    1. Have to agree, even though it was an exciting end to the season, it was kind of exhausting by that point.

  19. I’m beyond caring now about the number of races as there’s already too many for me.

    This year, I’ve already decided which ones I’ll watch and which ones I won’t. This weekends is one I won’t watch. I’ll just read reports instead.

    Good luck to those who have the time and inclination to watch all of them – I just have a limit on how much time I want to spend and will spend it accordingly.

    I suspect I won’t be the only one, but missing a few races is hardly likely to affect F1’s bottom line so there’s nothing really any of us can do to have any impact on decision making.

  20. I understand they can’t go NASCAR style when they are flying all around the world, but is there any reason they can’t do that throughout Europe every weekend (with an off week or two) from Late March to the summer break (which they ought to axe, but that’s an argument for a different post)? The geographic spread isn’t any more that what Cup does in the USA most of their season.

  21. I wish it were possible to somehow go back to pre-Ecclestone F1 where you had more races in the calendar than in the championship. It would be interesting to have 30-35 races, and only the top 20 scorers mattering. maybe even make more stringent event qualification restrictions.

  22. Turn this thing on its head…

    Have 28 races per year. Impose a limit that means a team may only compete in 22 races.

    The spread in points for the drivers and constructors reduces, and you might see a a number of great races with different teams at the front.

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