Race start, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022

What’s next for F1 after hitting its 24-race limit with 2023 calendar?

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The announcement of the 2023 Formula 1 calendar yesterday was more surprising for the manner in which it was revealed than the details of the series’ longest-ever schedule.

The schedule’s expansion to 24 races was widely tipped. China’s return at some point was expected and the Qatar and Las Vegas races had been announced previously.

The French Grand Prix promoters acknowledged F1 wouldn’t return to Paul Ricard in 2023 after Stefano Domenicali revealed it in a press conference last month. Spa’s one-year deal to remain on the calendar was announced soon afterwards.

But the timing of the calendar announcement was more surprising. Despite many of its events having fallen into place, Domenicali told Liberty Media investors last month the calendar would not be confirmed until “around early October.” He later clarified the delay related to the planned return of the Chinese Grand Prix to the calendar.

Following the cancellation of a swathe of events over the last three years due to the pandemic, China’s race will be the last to return to the schedule. The country’s zero-Covid policy has delayed the resumption of international sports within its borders. The Winter Olympics were held in February under conditions of strict security which saw competitors, media and other observers restricted to their own ‘bubble areas’.

Domenicali indicated a decision on China’s race would come after the National Congress in October, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s summit held every five years in Beijing. “We believe that we are going to have clear guidance on what is the scenario for China in the future within the end of this year,” he said last month. “Because that is something that, as you know, from the political perspective, there is a big event there at the end of October.”

This cautiousness was understandable at a time when China is still locking down cities where Covid-19 outbreaks occur. These include, less than two weeks ago, the city of Chengdu, home to 21 million people.

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Nonetheless the FIA, the governing body of Formula 1, announced yesterday the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will go ahead next April. However it is striking that, despite such a packed calendar, this race has a free weekend either side of it, reducing any travel complications which may arise if it does not go ahead.

Race start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Poll: Should F1 and its teams lift the cap of 24 grands prix in a season?
Even without a Chinese race the 2023 schedule would still be the longest championship F1 has ever held. That has inevitably made it harder for the series to make progress towards its goal of reducing the amount of travel involved in the championship, in order to cut costs and emissions.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed to some areas of improvement on the 2022 calendar earlier this year. “When you look at the geographics of it, Azerbaijan to Montreal, going to Australia for a weekend, it’s about as expensive as you could make it,” he said.

“If you look at the calendar it makes sense to group some of the races together, whether it’s some of the American races, some of the Asian races, Europe obviously,” he added.

Some progress has been made. Azerbaijan has moved earlier in the season and now follows China rather than sitting next to Canada’s round. However the latter remains separate from F1’s other American events, meaning the series will still need to make three transatlantic trips. Horner will also note the opportunity to reduce costs by putting Australia’s race next to another has also been missed.

The challenge of reducing the distances covered between races may grow. South Africa is widely regarded to be first in line for the next available slot on the calendar, and Kyalami is not in the vicinity of any other venue.

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But if the ever-growing calendar is the biggest reason F1 keeps piling on the air miles, that at least is about to change. Domenicali says he intends to abide the cap on 24 races agreed with the teams.

Stefano Domenicali, Zandvoort, 2022
Domenicali says F1 will have “no more” than 24 races
“I don’t want to discuss any more than that number,” he said last month. “In the end we have the problem of the value of it and also in terms of demand [upon] the people and everyone that is around the world, not only the teams, but also everyone that is working for F1.”

The competition for places is already high. Domenicali said earlier this year he had enough interest to hold 30 races.

F1 could easily have hit the 24-race limit sooner. Had it not been for the unforeseen cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix’s contract earlier this year, following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the 24 rounds on the 2023 schedule would not have a spot.

After years of watching the F1 calendar grow first under Bernie Ecclestone and CVC and lately under Stefano Domenicali, Chase Carey and CVC, it’s easy to be sceptical when the series declares it will go no further than 24 races. Time will tell whether by limiting the number of races it can drive up their value, and persuade promoters to move their events to dates which suit F1 better and allows them to make cost savings.

Or whether a promoter seeking a 25th race will write a huge cheque, and the temptation to stretch the schedule that bit further will prove too strong. But Domenicali is adamant that won’t happen.

“I think that this will be the number and around this number we’re going to build, because of the demand that we have, the right rationale to maximise what we believe is the right place to go,” he said. “That will respect, of course, the track itself – so the value of a what is a beautiful track – the value of what is the investment on that, what is the activation for the fans every promoter is doing, what is the interest that we are bringing for the teams or the manufacturers involved?

“So there are a lot of elements that we will consider. But in terms of numbers, this is exactly the point. As I said, no more than that.”

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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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38 comments on “What’s next for F1 after hitting its 24-race limit with 2023 calendar?”

  1. No one in F1 community tries to banned Baku GP for invading Armenia?

    1. I hope Azerbaijan gets dropped. Recent stories about the rape and dismemberment of a female Armenian soldier are pretty sickening. It’s a rubbish boring track anyway.

      1. Why does it makes any difference if the soldier is female?

        Reply moderated
        1. It makes no difference, if it had been a male soldier raped, killed and dismembered it would be just as terrible. That’s just how the story is being reported.

  2. I expect yet another cancellation for the Chinese GP, given the lead time until April will likely prove insufficient for entry restrictions.
    Azerbaijan GP not being paired with Canadian GP is indifferent because of being together with the Miami GP instead.
    Overall, I agree that next season’s (provisional) schedule has a few missed opportunities for reducing travel & costs, one of those being the AusGP relating to Horner’s point.
    FOM & FIA need to start making schedules more travel-friendly, moving towards the carbon-neutrality target year of 2030.
    Respecting the upper limit of 24 is about requirement rather than intention.

    1. some racing fan
      22nd September 2022, 1:00

      For sure there is a chance of the Chinese GP being cancelled. Transparency is something these CCP is not known for. At this point Liberty might as well tear up their contract…

  3. Next calendar will be 52 races a year

    1. I would go for 104 races a year ……

    2. Probably they will start by squeezing in nr 25 first in 2024, in contrast to what they are now saying. Then Sprint races with reversed grids every other GP. Points for qualification in the non Sprint race weekends. Points for best team boss hat and points for biggest smile at the drivers parade. Fan boost and an extra point for driver of the day will then complete the circus Liberty is so desperately trying to create. Money money money..

  4. I expect the next move will be to try to up the number of sprint race weekends so we end up with 30 races or more i.e. 24 standard races and 6 sprints.

    I think even some of the teams might baulk at the idea of 25 or more full races.

    1. @phil-f1-21 Plan is for 6 sprints next weekend and the current push is for at least some of those (If not all of them) featuring reverse grids with bonus points on offer for the driver with the most overtakes in the sprint.

      1. @gt-racer 6 sprints next year or each weekend! ;-))

  5. Nothing like watering a product down. whats the point in the cost cap and teams trying to save money when they keep adding on extra races. And the calendar still isnt organised into a sensible layout…… Baku to Miami, then back to Imola and Monaco. What a load of codswallop

  6. Let me guess. 25 races? With 2 engines?

  7. Perhaps geting rid of DRS finally?

    1. @vjanik Don’t hold your breath.

    2. There is probably some sense in an automatic system where races start with DRS disabled but it can be enabled if for example there are no Top 10 passes in the last 10 minutes.

  8. The figure is capped at 24 and teams are reluctant to go beyond that (Most in the paddock would prefer the cap be 20) but Liberty have put feelers out to teams about expanding it to 26.

    There is apparently a lot of anger/frustration in the paddock right now as when they did that first triple header in 2018 it was universally agreed that it was too much and that it wouldn’t be something they would do again. In 2020 the exceptionally circumstances with covid and trying to cram a season into 5 months meant people were willing to overlook the triple headers, In 2021 they were frustrated that triple headers were still a thing, That frustration continued in 2022 & the fact there are 2 of them planned for 2023 that frustration is starting to turn to anger, Especially with the increase to 24 races.

    Many in the paddock don’t even like the number of double headers now as those create additional stresses on the personnel, Especially when the 2 races been grouped together aren’t exactly close together (Baku>Montreal for instance).

    There is also irritation that many of those who praise the increasing number of races are people that don’t bother attending all of them and even when they do some of these people aren’t around for all 3 days so are blind to the realities of it for those who have to attend all 24. Even looking at broadcasters like Sky, Martin Brundle will talk up how great it is to have so many races while also telling Sky bosses he doesn’t want to attend more than 20 because he feels that more than 20 would be too much.

    There is just a feeling around the paddock now that concerns are been ignored and that the people who will bear the brunt of the increasing season length are those who don’t have a seat at the table and therefore don’t have a voice that is heard and whenever they do speak up they are basically told to shut up or go home. It simply isn’t sustainable.

    1. I’m old enough to remember when it was capped at 17 @gt-racer. The teams eventually caved on that for more money, and will doubtless do so again.

    2. This is just a case of pure greed on the part of Liberty. I dont think Fans want to have 24 races either… it just makes the season too long ,and it has a lot of rubbish tracks on the calendar that don’t lead to exciting races. I think 20 or 21 is the sweet spot. Its long enough, and just enough to have really good circuits.

      1. I have no problem with 24 races. Discounting the teams with logistical/burnout issues, I feel like it’s mostly the just the die-hard F1 fans who have a problem with more races because it’s no longer practical to watch them all live. So they have to rely on replays and hope the race result isn’t spoiled before they get to watch it.

        But here in Australia this is just normal because of time zones – for example all the American races are in the early hours of Monday morning. Not too many Aussie F1 fans will be up at 5am to watch the Brazilian GP. At best, they’ll watch the replay on Monday night or simply watch the highlights on YouTube.

        Most European races at late on Sunday night, Australian east coast time.

        (Yet despite the difficulty of watching F1 live in Australia due to time zones, the Melbourne race is still hugely popular!)

        A similar timezone issue exists for US fans wanting to watch European races. Given Liberty is a US company it makes sense for them to expand into markets that closer align with their timezone. Netflix is helping that along too. So I’m not at all surprised Paul Ricard was dropped and Kyalami still isn’t on the calendar.

        As for great tracks (for racing), once you reintroduce Hockenheim, Nurburgring, Sepang, Istanbul Park and Algarve and you’re easily back to 24. But money is king which is why we still have Catalunya and Abu Dhabi on the calendar despite them typically being boring AF. Though honestly, most of the tracks on the 2023 calendar are pretty good.

  9. It isn’t really clear how much can be saved by “bundling” the North American races.
    Yes, it looks and sounds like a good idea to put some of Montreal, Miami, Texas and Las Vegas in a group, but is there really any saving.?
    The distances between them are great enough that they will still be fly-in events. Just too far to go by road in the time available. Typically 3,000+ km between them. Shortest hop, Miami to Austin, 2,100 km.
    Mexico and Brazil are flights regardless.
    Just think of the cultural exchange opportunities having the team personnel spending weeks on end in the heart-land of the USA, going hotel to hotel. Eeee … Hahhhhh… Hold my beer … Watch this.

    1. I mean, you could have Montreal in September after Monza, like it was before 1982, but you couldn’t have it any later because it gets too cold there. And Miami simply cannot be held in the autumn because of the Dolphins’ NFL season from September to January. American football is quite popular over here.

      Montreal (September 24)
      Interlagos (October 8)
      Las Vegas (October 21)
      Mexico City (October 29)
      Austin (November 12)
      Abu Dhabi (November 26)

    2. Each of those tracks wants as much calendar franchise as they can get.
      Sepang’s poor financial performance after being block scheduled with Singapore was a key reason for its demise.

  10. The biggest issue with this calendar is the effect it has on the team personnel. At this rate they are going to have to start doing what NASCAR does- assigning 2 different crews for specific race weekends. The big teams could surely do that but the smaller teams? Don’t know…

    Another big issue with this calendar is the really bad pairing of races- like Baku with Miami and Vegas with Abu Dhabi. Just for clarification, a flight between Baku and Istanbul is 3 hours, and then between Istanbul and Miami is 12 hours… and then a flight between Los Angeles (the nearest direct destination to the Gulf from Vegas) and Abu Dhabi (if Etihad restarts flights between the 2 destinations) is 15 1/2 hours over 11 time zones- and it’s the same between LA and Dubai, which Emirates currently serves.

    I and just about everyone else is no fan of the long-distance triple-headers, either. I don’t like the US-Mexico-Brazil triple header- a flight between Mexico City and Sao Paulo is 9 hours.

    If they were to “regionalize” the calendar, it should look something like this (it’s impossible to have Miami in the autumn because of NFL)

    1. Miami (26 February)
    2. Bahrain (12 March)
    3. Qatar (19 March)
    3. Saudi (26 March)
    4. Australia (9 April)
    5. Singapore (16 April)
    6. China (30 April)
    7. Japan (7 May)
    8. Imola (21 May)
    9. Monaco (4 June)
    10. Spain (18 June)
    11. Azerbaijan (25 June)
    12. Austria (9 July)
    13. Britain (16 July)
    14. Hungary (30 July)
    15. Holland (6 August)
    16. Belgium (3 September)
    17. Italy (10 September)
    18. Canada (24 September)
    19. Brazil (8 October)
    20. Las Vegas (21 October)
    21. Mexico (29 October)
    22. Austin (12 November)
    23. Abu Dhabi (26 November)

    1. Holland and Belgium should be 1 week after each other as the team can drive metrials to the circuit in 3 hours. As they do now travel costs wise very efficient.

      1. The catch with putting geographically-close races next to each other is that they can eat into each other’s ticket sales.

    2. Why not have Abu Dhabi along with Bahrain and Qatar? I don’t see the point in having every opening and closing race in the Middle East exclusively. The season ender should be on an exciting circuit like Interlagos or COTA

      1. some racing fan
        23rd September 2022, 4:02

        Miami should be the season opener and Australia the season closer. They should try have Melbourne as the season closer for once; like Adelaide was back in the day.

      2. some racing fan
        23rd September 2022, 4:16

        Miami should be the season opener and Australia the season closer. They should try have Melbourne as the season closer for once; like Adelaide was back in the day. None of the other North American F1 circuits other than Vegas would be more appropriate for an early October date than Interlagos. The 10pm temperatures in Vegas at that time of year with the super dry conditions aren’t too bad.

        That would be quite funny (and good) if all 4 Gulf races were paired together. The biggest issue is Miami. You can’t have the race on 19 February (Daytona 500, NASCAR’s biggest race), nor the 12th (Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event over here). So if the teams were willing to do some kind of isolated round, like have Miami on 5 February, then maybe. I’ve actually written emails to the F1 contact website about these scheduling issues. You never know…

        1. Miami (26 February)
        2. Abu Dhabi (12 March)
        3. Bahrain (19 March)
        4. Singapore (2 April)
        5. China (9 April)
        6. Saudi (23 April)
        7. Qatar (30 April)

        19. Canada (24 September)
        20. Las Vegas (7 October)
        21. Austin (22 October)
        22. Mexico (29 October)
        23. Brazil (12 November)
        24. Australia (26 November)

        1. some racing fan
          23rd September 2022, 4:22

          *1. Miami (26 February)
          2. Abu Dhabi (12 March)
          3. Saudi (19 March)
          4. Singapore (2 April)
          5. China (9 April)
          6. Japan (16 April)
          7. Qatar (30 April) (Ramadan)
          8. Bahrain (7 May)

    3. At this rate they are going to have to start doing what NASCAR does- assigning 2 different crews for specific race weekends.

      This used to be the case in the 90s and 00s. Teams had two separate crews for race week-ends and a dedicated crew for testing sessions. Nowadays, you have the budget cap and the limit in the number of employees a team can have (Mercedes for example had to let go good employees to conform to the new rules a few years ago).

      1. some racing fan
        23rd September 2022, 4:26

        Oh dear God they will have to change that personnel rule

  11. Ideally would be similar like EPL schedule to keep fans occupied, but not possible due to cross country traveling and logistics…

  12. This has to stop! I think the boss is already suspicious of me calling in sick on 23 Mondays. Throw in one more and I’m likely to get the DCM* from him!

    *(Don’t come Monday)

  13. Liberty to F1 is what Disney is to Star Wars.

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