F1 targeting stable calendar of 24 races “for a long time” – Domenicali

2024 F1 season

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Formula 1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali says he wants future seasons of the world championship to aim for 24 rounds, and gave hope to historic tracks hoping to keep their races.

“The number that we were targeting this year, but due to the reason that you know very well we didn’t achieve, but what we want to do next year is 24. And I think 24 is the right number,”
Domenicali told the official F1 website.

“It’s the number that is required with the market. It’s really, I would say, the right balance between that and between the complexity of the logistics of the people that are working. But I would say this is the number on which we should target to be stable for a long time.”

In March 2022 Domenicali claimed there was enough serious interest from event promoters to form a 30-event calendar, but in August of that year he also clarified that 24 rounds should be F1’s “maximum” and “did not want to discuss any more than that number”.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Catalunya faces a rival to host the Spanish Grand Prix
However F1 subsequently advertised for the role of ‘commercial manager [for] race promotion’. The first key responsibility listed in the advert was “supporting the head of race promotion in executing on F1’s business strategy of growing the future race calendar to up to 25 races, which will include the research, evaluation, prospecting, and negotiation of potential new race locations”.

The Concorde Agreement only permits 25 rounds to be held during a season if teams vote to extend the calendar beyond the current limit of 24.

One potential new race location is Spain’s capital city Madrid, although the country already hosts an F1 race at the Circuit de Catalunya. “It is true that Madrid wants to host a race in the future, and no decision has been taken so far,” said Domenicali.

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“That’s another great sign of the state of the health of F1,” he added, stressing the decision which venue will be chosen “will not involve at all any political discussion.

Start, Eau Rouge, Raidillon, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022
Spa does not have a contract for 2023 yet
“Only commercial and technical and sporting discussion will be taken in the next couple of months. And for the best of F1, we will take the right decision. I’m sure about it.”

F1 is contracted to continue racing in Catalunya until at least 2026. “We need to remember that we still have years of contract with Barcelona,” Domenicali continued, “and we are really very, very happy in the way that Barcelona is handling the future because of course [Madrid’s interest] has helped them to react, to push for the improvement that is needed at all levels everywhere.

“So this is the situation and this of course is in a moment where we have Fernando [Alonso] performing incredibly well and we have Carlos Sainz [Jnr] in Ferrari, both of them have a lot of fans. We see the TV rating figure is growing incredibly well in Spain. So the market is very, very strong now.”

The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps is the only race which has a contract expiring this year, with 23 contracted to appear on the 2024 F1 calendar. The Chinese Grand Prix, which has not taken place since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, is also due to return.

Should the Belgian Grand Prix gain another contract extension it will leave no room for any new or returning events. But Domenicali describes it as being “great that we have this kind of opportunity for the future” to have a Madrid-based race.

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Madrid’s earliest chance of joining the F1 calendar is 2027 as Domenicali does not think Spain can host two races in one year as it previously did in 1994, 1997, and from 2008 to 2012.

Sprint race start, Imola, 2022
Imola is likely to get an extension after cancelled race
“In that time the vision was not so big. We were still [with a] European-centric calendar. Today we have a worldwide calendar approach with more races. I think that in Europe, even in the future, I am expecting to see races where the rotational principle could be applied. But not two in the same year [in the same country].”

Italy however is set to host two races in the next two seasons, and possibly beyond, as Monza and Imola have contracts going through to 2025. Following the cancellation of the latter’s race this year due to heavy flooding the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promoter anticipated F1 would be open to extending their contract to 2026 to make up for a missed year.

Domenicali confirmed that is the case. “What’s on the table, to be once again correct, is really we are discussing to see how we can extend the contract for one year, because I think that place deserves that and we are going to discuss the details very shortly,” he revealed.

The Belgian GP only made it onto the 2023 calendar after a plan to revive the South African Grand Prix – last ran in 1993 – fell through. The same situation appears likely to repeat in 2024, providing Spa-Francorchamps with a reprieve to host F1 for another year.

The British and Japanese grands prix are both staples of the world championships, and after Belgium have the next nearest contract expiry dates as their current deals end in 2024. Domenicali insists F1 is keen to retain its heritage races despite having added many new events to the schedule in recent seasons.

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“For sure it’s very important that the historical races have their own personality,” he said. “And I’m laughing when I hear people that are saying F1 is not respecting the historical races. It’s absolutely the other way around.

F1 values its historic races, Domenicali insists
“What I have always said is that the word historic has great responsibility, but historic cannot be seen as an old and out of fashion place. This is not historical, it’s old. I think that what we want is to use this incredible moment where F1 is growing to make sure that everyone is doing the right thing, and that’s it.

“It’s a matter of understanding that the world is evolving. When you hear, and you maybe can be shocked, that a certain new generation of guys or people that are now in love with F1 do not have a clue who was the driver of five years ago, not [even] 55. And they don’t have a clue on a certain technical element of what we are doing. It would be wrong not to recognise it.

“I’m not saying they’re right. I’m saying that we need to understand what is the right balance of the [historic] things that we need to take in order to take the right decision for the future.

“So historical races will be always part of the calendar, but there is the need for some of them to recognise the step change that they have to do to, for example, work on the infrastructure.

“That is not changing the layout of the races. But the fans are coming more and more with their different needs and if you don’t give them what they deserve, it’s not any more historical, it’s an out of context place where we shouldn’t go.”

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He said the Belgian Grand Prix promoter had earned a contract extension by showing they were willing to adapt to F1’s changing needs.

“If you remember, there were two years ago when there was the discussion of Belgium [being off] the calendar. And the [result] was Belgium is in the calendar. But they reacted very well.

“They invested in infrastructure that is related to the best experiences that we want to give to the fans. That’s the right thing that we want to see from the place where it has this historic approach, or historical approach in terms of being always there.”

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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15 comments on “F1 targeting stable calendar of 24 races “for a long time” – Domenicali”

  1. Words are wind and Stefano seems to be particularly aggressive in making statements one way while doing the opposite.

    We’ll see if Spa ends up on the calendar next year and beyond, I’m not that willing to trust the PR spins that are being put out here.

    1. He’s just the mouthpiece, and they picked him because he’s the kind of guy they know will play along. They know people are more receptive if they pick on of the ‘insiders’ to read the script, rather than having an American businessman with no racing background do the same. But those are still very much the people in charge.

      And the teams don’t care so long as they get paid.

  2. Good to see the Formula 1 CEO laughing at people’s genuine worries.

    1. They are not laughing, they just live in their own space/time dimension, parallel universe to be exact. They disregard global geo political instabilities, weather extremes and other uncertainties and hope for the best case scenario. Optimism at its best.

  3. I’d be okay with 24 for a longer-term period, & concerning Belgian GP, I expect only a single-year deal again before again being at risk of getting sacked for other options, be that another African location, Colombia, or something else, albeit another single-year deal would mean, Spa wouldn’t be the only location with an expiring deal, at next year’s end.

  4. As an expectator watching F1 on TV, I don’t mind letting go of Spa. The venue is amazing for those being there but year after year it produces boring, predictable races. Another question is what race would be replacing it. Kyalami would be worse in terms of racing given the old layout not adapted to new F1 standards. If the idea is to have a race in Africa, let’s go to another, more genuine African site. I would think off the top of my head of a street race in Morocco (Casablanca, Marrakesh) or even in Nairobi, Dakar, or Lagos.

  5. Pandemic, war… Anytime F1 plans to expand the calendar something big happens. Of course there are nothing between these two things but for the sake of nature and F1 commission I would like to see a year of total blackout just to get the board to realize you can’t just pull a rubber band and think it will never brake.

  6. So here is a thought. What if instead of having 24 races a year crisscrossing the planet in a not particularly environment friendly way… an F1 season is held over a 2 year period. Concentrating the races per region. So first 4 or 5 races in Asia followed by a transfer and resting period for the next races batch of races in Europe, America, Middle East.. etcetera. We could even make them mini-championships as part of the main championship. F1 Champion of the Americas! Imagine all the venues they could visit, how many hollow street circuits with zero history could be added!! Just imagine how big the pockets of the Liberty people will be – a sight to behold!

    I have one condition though. Please also add a ‘mini’ championship with classic F1 tracks. 8 or 9 rounds with be fine with me. Oh and please don’t mess with the rules and formats for that one.

    1. I like this idea!

  7. Tim (@tsgoodchild)
    15th June 2023, 12:33

    My wishful (fantasy) solution would involve three tiers of tracks making up the calendar:

    Gold-Standard: 12 circuits that guarantee high attendance, are jewels in the F1 calendar from historical legacy and deserve their continued presence.

    Silver-Standard: 16 circuits that may have some financial challenges but could survive on a bi-annual event, so 1 race every 2 years. 8 circuits would feature in the calendar each year.

    Bronze-Standard: Infinite number of circuits, that a selection of 4 per year are chosen to host a race. These could be one-off’s in a city or a developing country that wants to get onto the regular calendar, but may not be able to commit to a 10-year deal from the off.

    Fantasy, I know. But with increasing interest this would at the very least guarantee a mix of tracks each year.

    1. I also find this idea interesting.

  8. A stable calendar after the horse has bolted… it’s already spoiled by state-owned lifeless soft-power sportswashing venues opening and closing the championship. Dismayed to see them stinking up the WEC the same way, increasing the level of endurance expected of fans. A new race or two at least breaks the slog up a bit.

  9. SD’s comment that 24 is “the number required by the market” is gobbledygook trying to masquerade as a data-drive and existential sounding justification for those against and/or negatively effected by such a long season. I’m neither for against this huge race count, but his statement is cringey.

  10. Photo caption – “Spa does not have a contract for 2023 yet”

    Guess all those attending in a few weeks time will be disappointed then?

    1. Ahah, good one, didn’t notice that!

Comments are closed.