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How big can the F1 calendar get?
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How big can the F1 calendar get?
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Oct 2010   |  10:20 am GMT  |  231 comments

There has been an interesting response to yesterday’s news of a Russian Grand Prix joining the calendar in 2014.

The response from the teams is positive; Russia is an important new economy and has plenty of people with spending power, who fit the profile of F1, so it’s a good place to go as a car manufacturer or a major sponsor to promote your involvement in the sport and sell some product.

The response from many fans is positive too. The proposed track layout, around the Olympic village, looks fast and interesting. I think people are open to the idea of this race.

F1 is growing at a time when many sports are struggling (Darren Heath)


But the question I’ve been asked a lot in the last 24 hours is how big can the F1 calendar get and if it isn’t open ended – and Bernie Ecclestone’s stated aim of 20 races a year is adhered to – some races will have to make way. So which will they be?

The first thing to say is that in a time when many sports are contracting, F1 is expanding and doing so globally, so that is something very positive to remind ourselves of.

Ecclestone has been very productive recently, expanding the broadcast reach of the sport and adding in important new venues like India, USA and now Russia. These are all venues which will be paying in the order of $40 million a year for the rights to host a race and under the current arrangements half of that goes to the teams. So the revenues are welcome to them.

The concern of the teams and others in F1 is to get the balance right so that the championship doesn’t become too long and fans find it hard to follow. At 16 races, one every two weeks, as it used to be, the F1 championship was easy to follow, fans made an “appointment to view” for two hours every other Sunday from March to October.

Now it’s more strung out, more irregular and harder to follow for fans, who need to commit 19 weekends a year. If the calendar were to go to 22 races, would fans’ interest start to wane? I think there is a risk that it might. What you might see is fans picking and choosing the races they watch, missing ones they consider dull, like Valencia, for example, or not bothering to set the alarm for a race in the Far East. Some TV companies might find it hard to schedule that many races, although in the countries with strong audience figures, it will tend to out-rate most other Sunday programming.

Anecdotally, without any scientific research at all, I’ve noticed that quite a few fans, who would have expected to watch most, if not all, races find it hard to keep up with 19.

Of course NASCAR has a huge calendar, with 36 events from February to November, clearly they have accepted that only the most fanatical fans will follow every one and have gone for maximum reach in the various states across the USA. The TV contract is split between broadcasters, as it is too much for one network to handle.

Ecclestone has to listen to input from various quarters, from the TV companies, the teams, who push for races in certain territories along with their sponsors, to CVC his commercial partners, who are keen to sign up as many long term contracts as possible with circuits, global partners and TV companies. They want to guarantee the long term cash flows and keep them growing, to make the business robust, giving them the option to sell or float in the future. A friend of mine who is a financier and does business with CVC says that they are very pleased with their F1 investment and are not planning an exit any time soon.

But if the decision is that 20 races are the maximum then clearly some will have to make way. Turkey is clearly a candidate, with very poor attendances and no grass roots programmes to grow interest in the sport. The German and Belgian GPs are always a concern as the venues struggle to balance affordability.

Spa should be preserved (Darren Heath)


The possibility has been mooted in some quarters about running them on alternate years, but I think most fans would want to preserve Spa at all costs. Like Monaco, which doesn’t have to pay a huge sanctioning fee because of its importance to the sport, Spa has a claim to be considered a special case. In the FOTA fan survey this year 81% of fans said that the sport must continue to visit the “classic” venues, like Monaco, Spa, Monza and Silverstone.

The rest of the European venues either have long term deals or are keen to continue, I’m told. Again affordability is the key.

There have been some suggestions that in an expanded calendar, race weekends could be compressed. Certainly Friday is a bit of a wasted day, but it would be a mistake to standardise running qualifying and the race on Sunday, as happened in Suzuka. The TV companies wouldn’t like it and it reduces qualifying as a story.

What do you think? Should there be a limit of 20 races? Could you handle more? Let me know your thoughts.

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231 Comments
  1. Eerik says:

    I think that 20 races is the maximum. I consider myself a die-hard fan but even I have missed some races this season. F1 would lose some of it exclusivity in my eyes if it would run 36 weekends in a year. When I was a kid I remember that an F1 race was a real event for me – everybody in the family knew that on F1 weekends the TV is tuned to the race, no questions asked. Some of that feeling is gone now, maybe it’s because I’m getting older but I believe most of it is because there are so many races.
    So I say scrap Valencia, Turkey and all the other boring races with poor attendance. Russia and the U.S. should be on the calendar, let’s hope they manage to build interesting tracks.

    1. Kenny Carwash says:

      That’s a bit hard on Turkey, wouldn’t you say? It’s a great track and has had some good races, it’s just a shame nobody goes.

      I’d definitely drop Valencia: Spain doesn’t need two GPs and I don’t think we really need a European GP anymore. I would suggest Shanghai as it’s a commercial disaster, but again it’s had some decent races and F1 needs a presence in China. The only others I could imagine dropping are maybe Hungary because it’s so processional and Abu Dhabi which I’m not sure really adds anything to the calendar apart from a great show off track.

      The other thing that occurs to me is that we have the US GP confirmed for 2012, so someone’s going to have to make way.

      Looking at the provisional 2012 calendar, China, Japan and Turkey are the circuits who’s contracts expire after 2011 so they must be the prime candidates. Maybe the Turkish promoters will decide they’ve had enough and call it a day. It would be sad but I’d hate to lose Suzuka and I’ve a feeling Bernie would chew his own arm off before dropping Shanghai.

      1. Anthony Marte says:

        Bahrain!!! for sure…

      2. Gemma says:

        I agree Bahrain is one of the most ‘Boring’ Races and inaccessible to many F1 fans. Why do we need 2x Arab races in the Calendar?? (The only reason i see is that they have shit loads of money at their dispoal to gve Bernie?!

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      I am really stunned with people saying Turkey is a boring race. The race is absolutely great and the track is the best modern track and one of the best overall. Add to that that it has the best corner in all calendar (better than the now easy flat out eau rouge ).

      Media talks about the lack of attendance and the poor atmosphere there but me and you as tv viewers, the only atmosphere we feel is V8′s noise and the only show we see is on track racing and in Turkey that is far from boring. Sometimes F1 fans have a tendancy to listen to what the media says too much. Someone has to form his own opinion by appreciating what he’s seeing !

      1. Gareth says:

        Actually Nick if you consider two timed qualifying like they did pre 1996, it might spice the racing up a bit and the drivers wont be conservative as they will need to get to the front to make sure their position in q2 is as good as they can get. if you take the recent Suzuka race you would have Hulkenberg,Massa and Kubica all trying to charge to the front.
        As for the calender we dont need Valencia, Turkey provides no excitment, but then does Singapore?Malaysia or Barcelona? Personally id rotate some races and keep the big 7, that being Italy,Monaco,Australia,Belguim, Britain, Canada and Japan.

    3. Curro says:

      My thoughts exactly. Also, if I have a social event on sunday, previously there was less of a chance that it would clash with a race, but now I find it harder to watch them all just by sheer probability.

      Valencia might take care of itself by 2014. I think its future is heavily dependant on how long will Alonso continue racing. Unless Alguersuari can do anything about it, the day FA retires I expect Spain to go back to where it was 10 years ago: no live coverage, empty circuits, foreigners only.

      1. James Allen says:

        He’s only 29! He will be around for a while yet

      2. Carlos says:

        A lot of us Alonso bandwagon fans will stick around for good. There are a lot of Spanish drivers in lower categories now… even if they don’t become great, the numbers are a big and permanent change. Part of it is due to changes in Spain – young people all used to ride scooters and motorcycles, but cars have been taking over since about 10 years ago. I would’ve expected a lot of the car interest to go towards rallying, but that sport isn’t as strong as it used to be.

        But I agree, Spain doesn’t need two races. As a Valencian (from the region, not the city), I’m terribly disappointed with how the track turned out. It looked good on paper…

  2. Andy C says:

    This is one of my real bug bears about f1. Great tracks like spa could be under threat.

    Bernie should remember that what made f1 great originally was racing, not a marketing opportunity.

    There ate so many soulless tracks which have been plonked out there where whether there is good racing comes secondary to whether the demographics are right for revenues.

    I’m being idealistic but just as with football, I watch for the game, not for the stuff and nonsense that goes with it.

  3. Gareth says:

    Personally James 20 races are perfect to much more is silly,F1 is supposed to be cost cutting. I have a radical idea for qualifying though, although i like the three qualification sessions, what i would love is satuarday to be practice and qualifying one which means the cars line up in the order they finished at the last race on the grid. A mini race is then done(15 laps) the winner gets provisional pole, as an incentive the usual format is done on Sunday morning. Fridays should be used as a promotional day, with teams allowing the fans more access.

    1. Nick says:

      I think this is a bad idea. If a driver crashes on the first lap of a race he would start at the back of the grid for the next qualifying race. This would encourage conservative (i.e. boring) driving. You’ll find the most reliable cars winning the championship and you would have an advantage if you did well in the last race – a bad idea. The current systems means that each race begins with a clean sheet.

      Back to the question in hand, I think 18 to 20 is about the maximum. I can’t always watch every race and I think the more races there are the less likely I would to make a point of watching them – it would also devalue each race for the drivers, 25 points for a win would be more important if there is only 16 races, rather than 36 races.

      New tracks are good and important in reaching new audiences, which is why Bernie does it. My suggestion is to have a selact group of classic circuits that are held every year (Defo: Spa, Monaco, Silverstone, Monza, also perhaps Suzuka?, Montreal?, Barcelona? Germany? Brazil?, Oz?), then rotate the remaining spaces on the calander with new tracks and old favourites. This would still allow new markets to be tapped into, keep new faourites like Singapore, and see the return of old tracks like the A1 ring, Imola etc. I’d rather see a race every other year at Imola, than never at all.

      1. David Brown says:

        Whilst this is an innovative suggestion. I have to say that the present qually is about right.

        It ticks all the boxes for track action throughout the 60 mins.

        As for numbers of grand prix, James as usual has his finger on the pulse.

        Many more and the genral interest could wane and I certainly for one, would be more likely to miss the boring ones.(Valencia, Bahrain, Barcelona.)

        Personally I would like to see Friday having a hours unlimited test session for the test drivers. Then 2 further hours (or hour and half if they could fit the time in) as they are now for the race drivers. This would make Friday a really interesting day for the spectators, and satisfy the bigger teams lust for testing.

        As for abandoning certain tracks in favour of new…well they could always have a test day at the old tracks? A one off Monday/Tuesday midseason or whenever there is a race close-ish ( to cut down on travel. Cheaper for the fans and maybe some closer interactions with the teams etc.

        My only other suggestion is tinkering with the points.

        I would like to see a point extra for pole. Plus a point for fastest lap.

        I’m not a Vettel fan but I have to admire the way he’s had 8 poles this year. I think the driver who can do this deserves something. 1 point under the old system would have been too much, but this current one would make it work.

        The fastest lap could be an incentive for a car thats had a mechanical problem to get back out, and keeps them all trying in the last laps even if it has become a fuel saving procession.

        Thats me done.

        (Thanks James, this site is my first stop for F1 info)

      2. Rabbit Leader says:

        You make some good points.

        I would like to see street circuits such as Valencia and Singapore removed from the F1 calendar. Efforts to increase overtaking are at odds with these type of circuits where overtaking is difficult and there is a high risk of DNF.

        We already have the Spanish grandprix at Barcelona so why have a second “European” grand prix in Spain?

  4. Prisoner Monkeys says:

    Personally, I reckon you could get to about 25 if you could optimise the calendar. The teams have been talking about changing the format for the weekend, with Christian Horner talking about bumping scruitineering back to Fridays because it’s wasteful and unnecessary to have the teams at the venue on Wednesdays. Now, if you could tie events together based on their geographical proximity, I think you could do it. Have the teams go from China to Korea to Japan in the space of three weeks or a month (if we can do Australia and Malaysia in the space of seven days, we can do this), and tie other races like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi together. It means an end to races like the Middle Eastern ones buying their slots on the calendar, but I don’t think too many people would complain. If it were up to me, I’d set it out like this:

    Rnd. 1: Australia
    Rnd. 2: Malaysia
    Rnd. 3: China
    Rnd. 4: South Korea
    Rnd. 5: Japan
    Rnd. 6: Singapore
    Rnd. 7: India
    Rnd. 8: Abu Dhabi
    Rnd. 9: Bahrain
    Rnd. 10: Turkey
    Rnd. 11: Hungary
    Rnd. 12: Russia
    Rnd. 13: Great Britain
    Rnd. 14: Belgium
    Rnd. 15: Germany
    Rnd. 16: Italy
    Rnd. 17: Monaco
    Rnd. 18: France
    Rnd. 19: Spain*
    Rnd. 20: Valencia/Portugal*
    Rnd. 21: South Africa*
    Rnd. 22: Canada
    Rnd. 23: United States
    Rnd. 24: Brazil
    Rnd. 25: Argentina*

    * That’s just me speculating.

    Of course, it would mean moving Monaco from its traditional May calendar berth and you’d have Canada in the middle of the Montreal winter, but by tying events together, I think you could pull it off. It might mean cutting the mid-season break, though.

    PS: Before anyone asks, I separated Singapore and Malaysia to keep them from competing directly.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      You’ve just put the two hottest races (The middle east ones) at (almost) the hottest time of the year.

      That needs a rethink. They need to be at the start or end of the season to make the temperatures more acceptable.

    2. Like the idea of Montreal in the winter. Pirellis with snow chains!

    3. DB says:

      Hey, I say drop Argentina for a second race in Brazil. Perhaps in the new track in Rio, since the old one is sadly all but gone.

    4. Tim Parry says:

      I like your idea of reintroducing some of the older non-euro dates like Argentina and South Africa. Give ‘em another chance. It would be great if Kayalami could get a facelift – not by Tilke though. And while we’re on the subject, maybe some of the those silly Tilke tracks could get a ‘haircut’ by removing some of those silly Tilke turns. They might provide some interesting racing if they did.

    5. Vik says:

      As a dad to a young child and husband to a sympathetic, if hugely disinterested wife, justifying 25 weekends indoors will be difficult. Part of the problem is the in-depth coverage broadcasters now offer. It’s great, but what with FP 1, 2 and 3, 2 hours for quali and a 3 hour plus race broadcast, the whole thing consumes way too much time. Coverage should move discussion, analysis and gossip to a regular midweek slot, freeing up the weekend to focus exclusively on 1 hour qualifying and a 90 minute race. As for the logistics and carbon footprint issues…

    6. Rich C says:

      MonkeyBoy I’m just guessing you’ve never been to Montreal in Winter? LOL

    7. Romeo Gonzalez says:

      Rnd. 22: Canada
      Rnd. 23: United States
      Rnd. 24: Mexico City
      Rnd. 24: Brazil

      1. Romeo Gonzalez says:

        Sorry – Montreal, Austin and Mexico city in successive weekends

    8. Ayron says:

      Another problem with your schedule is that you are focussing all the Asian races at the start and there isn’t anything for the European fans till about the mid-point of the season.

      The system at the moment with a couple of Asian “road-trips” actually makes more sense and ensures that most regions have a localised race relatively early in the season. It also increases fan’s potential for visiting more than one race per season.

      Obviously, seasonal conditions need to be considered also, particularly the avoidance of extreme weather that can cause a race to be cancelled. This is probably one of the main reasons for the focus on running the European races through the Northern Hemisphere summer and Canada and the US need to be in this timing, perhaps a mid-season North American roadtrip with the two Asian groupings either side and Brazil attached to one of them.

      Starngely enough, pretty much the way it is currently arranged – who would have thought…

    9. malcolm.strachan says:

      I like your idea… and I hope by referencing Argentina, you are inferring that new circuit around the lake!

      I think grouping the races by continent makes tremendous sense, as it would definitely cut down on costs and on carbon footprint.

    10. G Cam says:

      I like the idea of grouping the races geographically. In fact I think they could divide the season into such as the Asian Series, the European Series and the Americas Series, each having it’s own trophy but as usual all points going towards overall championship.

  5. **Paul** says:

    Ditch Valencia, the race isn’t great and Spain already has one GP. It might turn a profit for Bernie, but from a fans perspective it’s boring.

    I also think Turkey (although it produce good races) is one that could be let go given it’s terrible attendance record.

    I’d like to see Imola and A1 back on the calendar at some point, but fear it’ll never happen.

    I’d like to see ~22 races. I don’t buy into the idea that fans will get bored with too many races. Are Man Utd fans bored at seeing their team play IRO 60 games a season ? I think not. Likewise Tennis players play a massive amount of matches over the course of a year, again fans aren’t bored with that, or should I say the attendances suggest it’s not an issue.

    The only issue with expanding the calendar is the potential for the champion to be crowned early if Bernie puts a childish medals system in place.

    1. Andy W says:

      Ditch Valencia, absolutely… I don’t care how much they pay Bernie and CVC, I don’t care how much they want to be the new Monaco (they aren’t Singapore has done that brilliantly with its night race).

      IF Bernie wants to take on more races then he needs to regard the fans as a vital component to the season, because each extra race requires an extra commitment… Running boring tracks in a 16 race calender is vastly different to running them in a 20 race calender, and once people start to drop one race then it becomes easier to drop more.

      Tracks to ditch in my mind are Valencia, Barcelona (I know thats the 2 Spanish GPs, but they are the most boring 2 races year in year out) maybe Bahrain and China. Races that should absolutely be on the calender are the classics – Spa, Silverstone (especially the new improved track), Monaco, Singapore, Montreal, Hungary (odd track that every so often throws up amazing races), Suzuka and Melbourne, I would also make a claim for Turkey as it is a great race to watch and turn 8 is just awesome!

      1. **Paul** says:

        Interesting that you pick Hungary as a track to keep. I agree and nearly put that in my view above, it needs to be kept. It’s a great track because it requires a completely different setup to so many of the current tracks.

        You’re also spot on about Barca, the amount of testing done there makes it a boring race normally. That said with Santanders sponsorship in F1 Spain needs at least one GP.

      2. Rabbit Leader says:

        Hungarboring!!!

    2. MAS says:

      When considering fan “fatigue”, do keep in mind that the size of the F1 viewership far exceeds the other sports you mentioned. No other sporting event gets 200-250 million viewers at every event of the year.

      It’s certainly something to guard against. FOM ought to stay on top of matters like that. More than 20 races might be an issue for a lot of people, though it wouldn’t bother me – I never really feel I “had enough already” when it comes to F1.

      Personally, whether or not I skip a race is far more dependant on the quality of the racing that season and what can be expected on the specific track. Last year I had no qualms about planning something else during the two Spanish GPs, for example. But this year, given the situation in the championship and the fact the racing is just better full stop, I stayed home like a good boy. Oh, and I just love early morning races, they’re the best way to start your Sunday.

      I agree that Valencia has to go, it’s just a boring track. Besides, the “European Grand Prix” is an excellent opportunity to visit a different “historic” track every year (cycle through say, Imola, Magny-cours, Hockenheim). And while they’re at it, the Spanish should just replace Barca with the new Aragon track, it looked pretty good in MotoGP (despite being a Tilkedrome).

  6. Bec says:

    You say:

    “What you might see is fans picking and choosing the races they watch, missing ones they consider dull, like Valencia, for example.”

    But viewing figures and ticket sales show Spa is at the bottom of the list, while Valencia is 4 places higher, I have no idea why Spa has such low attendance and equally low TV ratings but it does.

    “I think most fans would want to preserve Spa at all costs.”

    Maybe they should watch the race on TV or visit the circuit, both of which they are failing to do in large enough numbers, and have done so for several years, Spa has the lowest TV viewing figure for any race over the last 3 years, and averagely is the 2nd worst viewed event over the same period.

    1. I didn’t know that, I always make a big deal about watching Spa, to the extent that I even bug my friends into watching it with me. It sounds daft, but do you think the common perception of all things Belgian being boring perhaps hits the casual audience?

      I was going to go to Turkey next year to try and help them, but I might just do Spa instead now.

      1. Jason Ryall says:

        I was at Spa 2 years ago, the only way to describe it is stunning. Util you visit the track you do not appreciate the topography of the circuit!

      2. Moog says:

        Spa suffers from being on the bank holiday weekend when we’re all dragged away to weddings or other rained off bank holiday droll :)

        For me, throw out the races that are boring to watch, as that’s what it’s all about. So Monaco, Valencia, Barcelona, Singapore, Hungary.

        -Moog-

    2. Charlie says:

      Maybe because Spa sits right in the middle of the European holiday season?

    3. Stevie P says:

      Bec – where do you get this info from? I’m most surprised about Spa having low TV figures!

      1. Catherine says:

        I’m also surprised about the comment on attendance figures also – having been there for the last few years, the grandstands are full, and all the good general admission places to watch from are packed on race day.

      2. Bec says:

        The ticket sales are from the promoter, they sold 52,000 tickets, they needed 75,000 to break even, Turkey sold 54,000.

        The TV figures are from the The Broadcasters Audience Research, and have been averaged out over a period of several years to try and avoid anomalies.

        I love Spa, even the scenery nice, but it seems the casual viewer isn’t too interested, and that’s a worry, because I think we all know how much the casual viewer means to FOTA.

    4. Jo Torrent says:

      That’s really shocking. Spa has the lowest figures ! are you sure ???????????
      If yes is it due to its schedule at the end of august during a holiday period and right at the end of the Formula 1 “3 weeks” imposed holidays which make people miss or forget a bit about it !

    5. **Paul** says:

      I’m not surprised about Spa’s attendance figures given that they charge considerably more for tickets than the likes of Nurburgring, Monza and so on.

      That said I’ll be there next year, and for me it’s probably my fave race of the year on TV, never miss it.

    6. Kez says:

      I Didn’t know this either, but it is often Aug bank holiday in england and people take short breaks, go away with other halves, family etc so I can see why! Shame because its always class, would be a crime to lose it though.

    7. Renko says:

      Having been to Spa this year I can understand a little why they have problems selling tickets. One is the cost compared to other races tickets are more expensive and two the spectator facilities are very poor compared with the likes of Silverstone which Berine has given a complete bashing over the years. To camp at Spa it costs €160 for 3 days which is very expensive compared to others. Having said that I would like to go back at some point.

    8. Ritesh Tendulkar says:

      I was at Spa a couple of years ago to watch F1 (I had been to Silverstone a year earlier) and I have to say it didn’t turn out as enjoyable as I’d hoped despite having seats at Eau Rouge. I attribute this to organisers not letting us go around the track even on Friday and Saturday for non F1 events. This was despite having ‘Sliver’ tickets. When I’d been to Silverstone, even though only on general admission ticket, we could go around the track on Friday and Saturday and got to watch different races at different parts which was excellent.

      I love watching Spa on telly though.

    9. Nathan says:

      I dont know how true that can be….i have been at spa the last two races and it has been heaving, as i type i am in Sth Korea and was lucky enough to do some laps….its an ok track, but i dont think it should be on the calendar. Hopefully i am wrong and it turns out to be a good one.
      Valencia should go definately, as for Turkey,i have heard that FOM has a heavy investment in the track, but who knows.

      1. sammy says:

        I live in Belgium and for the last 4 years I didn’t even miss one race at Spa.
        If you try to order your ticket, let’s say one week before the GP, you clearly get the message that all tickets have been sold. I find that amazing and I don’t understand that at all. Where are all those tickets?

    10. Gemma says:

      I love going to The Spa GP, best atmosphere and full of die hard fans (even with the water logged Camp site we had this year!!) Maybe viewing figures are down to Spa being on an August Bank Hol??

  7. Iain M says:

    Well for my two cents I Love F1 the more the merrier. the only thing I would like to see is consistency in the broadcasting. Living in the North American Eastern time zone an 8am Sunday race is perfect! So it would be really nice if Speed would continue showing events like Japan $ Korea at the same time.

    All the best!!

  8. ogi says:

    I would like to have more then 20 races. To have F1 every week for me isn’t a problem because I’m big fan of F1.

  9. Josh says:

    I think valencia has to be the first one to go, I don’t exactly see the point of continuing that snorefest. Spa, as most would agree, HAS TO STAY!

    To keep some of the costs down, at least logistically, why can’t they do the races more regional than it is now? for example, china-japan-korea can be a triple combo; so is australia, singapore and malaysia (although malaysia might suffer), middle east, americas and then europe.

    with regard to an expanded calendar, i think the current one already is lengthy enough to make some people skip some races, like valencia. then, this could only mean that every track F1 goes to must be exciting enough that every F1 fan cannot afford to miss – more pressure for the organizers and track people (i.e. designers).

  10. Steed says:

    Hi James, great job as ever, wish you were paired with Brundle again doing the commentary.

    I think 20 races is enough, but they should be every fortnight, without a break (12 weeks off, and it is always summer somewhere).

    I watch every race, recording the early morning events.

    I don’t see why there is still a European GP , surely its continuation sends the wrong message to the rest of the world. Dropping this would make way for another event.

  11. paddockbox says:

    I think 20 races per season is ideal
    but if bernie decide the circus can handle 22 races.. than I’m as fan is more than happy.

  12. Kenny Carwash says:

    Some very good points there, James. I’m the biggest F1 fan I know and I’ve only been able to watch about half the races live this season.

    If it wasn’t for Sky Plus I’d have missed a few, although knowing I’m recording the races means I’m less inclined to go out of my way to watch them when I have a social engagement on a Sunday.

    Time shift viewing is quite an interesting subject in itself. I nearly always watch qualifying after the fact as I’m normally playing rugby at the time. This isn’t of much concern to the BBC, but for ITV and other commercial broadcasters abroad it could be a big deal because I’d be fast-forwarding through those expensive adverts without mercy!

    As for the length of the season itself, I don’t think watching the races would be a problem but I do think we risk losing the distinction between one season and the next. It’s good that F1 builds to a climax, a champion is crowned and has time to celebrate, do the media circuit and basically enjoy being champion and spend some time under the spotlight. If there’s another race in a six weeks time I think that would be diluted.

    There’s also the question of what a shorter off-season would do to the pace of development in the sport. With a shorter F1 winter, there will be less time to focus squarely on the new car and the kind of innovative leaps we’ve seen in the past few years may appear less often. This would also put the smaller teams at a disadvantage as they have fewer people to develop the car during the season and need to make the most of the winter.

  13. Joris says:

    Them more the better, I’m already dreading the break from November to March!
    I guess I would be happy up to 25 races a year.
    I also think Fridays should be maintained, but maybe adding spice by running test drivers / juniors as well, then it gives an element of differentiation.

  14. Dirty Scarab says:

    As a fan, I personally want as many races as possible but I’m sure this is a logistical nightmare for the teams and also hard on their families.
    As long as we don’t lose Silverstone, Monaco, Spa, Suzuka, Montreal or Monza I’m happy for Bernie to take us to new and far off places…

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Spot on. I would add to a lesser degree Brazil because of some great races it produced and Abu Dhabi and Singapore because of that special and unique atmosphere !

      Turkey has one of the best tracks and the best corner so I would like to have it staying

  15. PhilipS says:

    Interestingly there has been a fan poll regarding F1 stockcars this week. You may have seen them on Gears & Tears. F1 stocks have around 50 meetings per year. The poll asked fan how many they typically attend each year. Very few attend less than 5 and likewise very few attend more than 25.The peak in the distribution is 15 to 20 meetings. That seems to be about the limit that most people can commit to, no matter how fanatical. For F1 GP I personally prefer once a fortnight, at the moment the season seems a bit crowded.

  16. Dave G says:

    I think when it comes to fitting F1 into my lifestyle, the irregular schedule is actually more of an issue for me then the length of the calendar. That said, I think Bernie’s self imposed limit of 20 races should be adhered to. If races are to be axed, then the quality of the races should take priority over financial considerations. Not many that I speak to would miss Turkey or Valencia, but the traditional European races must be preserved.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      I agree with Turkey, the track is fantastic, but Valencia is dull as a venue and as a race track.

  17. Neil says:

    Planning this is easy. Get rid of Catalunya and move the Spanish Grand Prix to Valencia. Get rid of Hungaroring and let a new race take its place. Same goes for Sepang and Suzuka.

    Circuits like Silverstonem, Hockenheim and Suzuka while well attended always produce very dull races. We need to rethink whether these circuits are viable because despite how many people attend, there are many millions more being bored at home.

    1. I can see your point about Silverstone and Hockenheim, but Suzuka dull? This year’s race wasn’t a classic, but there’ve been some electrifying races there and it’s not a track that needs rain to liven it up.

      F1 simply has to visit Britain, Germany and Japan though. It would be a travesty if they didn’t.

      1. Anthony Marte says:

        Last year was dull as well…

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      How can you possibly attack Suzuka ?!!!!!!!!!

      1. Neil says:

        Did you watch the race on Sunday, or last year?

        I did, and for the most part of both I was bored. The only entertainment came from YAM and KOB, and that wasn’t anything to do with the circuit.

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        Then tell me what was extraordinary about Silverstone this year. Absolutely nothing, no overtaking, not even kobayashi !

        Oh I almost forget, after his puncture and the safety car Vettel overtook many cars but if Vettel has had a puncture in Suzuka he would have overtaken as much cars

        What about the racing in monaco and monza this year ?

      3. James Allen says:

        Yes there was! It was a terrific race on the new layout. And the atmosphere was fantastic

  18. Kristian says:

    I think its essential we preserve the European heartland of F1 – these are the races people attend, and the ones the fans most appreciate. To alternate the German and Belgian GPs would not go down well with much of the fanbase.

    We have all these new countries who are still new to F1 and not getting attendances anywhere near like Silverstone or Montreal for example – OK Bahrain usually operates at capacity but only 30,000 seats are available! (compare that to Montreal’s 120,000….). With the circuits so similar I think alternating these would be a good solution. Also with such a squeezed calendar we should not have two races in the same country. Thus alternate the following:

    Bahrain/Abu Dhabi
    China/South Korea
    Barcelona/Valencia
    Nurburgring/Hockenheim (as at present)

    That means there’s already 3 new slots to fit on the calendar, for Russia, USA and another new nation (maybe South Africa or another in S America).

  19. Stanislav says:

    I can handle all of them even if there are 30 :) !

  20. Stuart says:

    the alternative year thing would work great, the best of both worlds. But this is business and money talks and… well…. you know the rest of the phrase. We are powerless to the powers that be from kicking all the classic, less profitable races. I wouldnt mind if the races they replaced them with were half decent.

  21. Tim says:

    James what are your thoughts on the future of the Australian GP? Is the timezone difference too big an issue for Bernie to ignore? Too much revenue lost on TV audiences in Europe?

    1. BMG says:

      I agree, The locals are not that keen on the location and it’s losing money.

      I’ve been to the race in Melbourne and I loved it. It’s so close the city, so if you are not at the track you have the night life so close to you, it may do well to move to a night race.

      1. Mat says:

        When you say that the locals are not too keen on it you are only talking about a handful NIMBYS, most people here do support the race.

        I was initially against a night race as the track is in the middle of a residential area and I’m sure that the last thing people would want is F1 cars tearing up the track on a Sunday night before school/work. But if they can schedule the race for the Labor Day public holiday weekend it may work.

    2. Bunt says:

      Disclosure: Australian talking here. If F1 is to be a global sport, it might be time for Europeans to give up on timezone complaints. We watch F1 on Sunday nights, anywhere between 10 pm and 3 am (Monday morning), for by far the majority of races. But I do get it; not much money to be made from Australian viewers.

      1. BMG says:

        I’m from Brisbane and “yes” I do stay up and watch it. I just think the night races brings another dimension to racing. I would love to see the race move to the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise)it would be spectacular.

      2. unoc says:

        Yeah, by the way, for those interested.. that 3am – 5am monday morning gp is the brazillian gp.

        Pretty much every season in the last few years as been decided there, we have had brawn last year and the big race with massa the year before and the raikkonen before that. All decided at that race, everyone remembers it BAR aussie’s cos at 4:30am in the morning we are all tucked up in bed.

        Yes, europeans may have a few dodgy ones, but our usual time is 10pm-12pm on sunday night. Have fun the next monday!

        As for the ‘the locals aren’t keen on the location and losing omney’.

        Thats partially true, it’s loosing 50 million a year which is pretty massive. but then the track we do like, well most do, crazy people aside, most do. THe 50million a year lose is big for a state with 4 million tax payers or so in it. But we have bigger issues
        Mykey system couldve been bought from Hong Kong for 100million, but we made our own 6 years late for 1.3billion dollars (1300% of original costs WTF!)
        Desalination plant, largest in the southern hemisphere and is going to cost billions before we get a drop of water out of it AND we aren’t in drought anymore so we don’t need it.
        And alot more..

        So GP is a debt, but not he biggest problem. As much as It would be better to have it at a proper circuit 2 things stand in the way.

        1) Our curcuits aren’t made for F1 cars. Phillip islands doe MotoGP fine (this weekened) and V8′s but can’t do F1. bathest would be great but has parts that make monaco look like the safest track in the world

        2) If we did our own track it would be a S*(#house track down by tilke that no one wouldbe proud of. Most f1 aussie fans are proud of albert park because it provides good races. and drivers like it. A new tilke track would be boring and so we wont do it.

  22. Stuart says:

    ALSO, I read something on a very obscure blog lately (cant remember which) that said something along the lines of Austin is a new start for F1 in the USA, if it goes well, maybe two races in the US? The second being an oval? Any truth in this? It would be pretty mental I think

    1. Andy C says:

      I hope not….. While I like watching daytona and the indi, I would hate for f1 to go oval racing.

      And it is incredibly dangerous to get the hang of. Just ask mark and Nigel just how different the driving style is (staggered setups etc).

      1. DB says:

        I’ve always been very curious about F1 in ovals.

        I wouldn’t like F1 to become Indycar (I like both and I hope both carry on in their own way), but I’d like to see one oval in the F1 calendar. It’s the “pinnacle of motorsport” after all, isn’t it. These cars and drivers should be tested in every possible way.

        I don’t say F1 should go to a super-banked superspeedway like Texas or Michigan, but perhaps something like Indy, Homestead or the oval in Rio de Janeiro (which is now, alas, gone). Somewhere to try the engines and mechanical setup but where the Monza aero pack and the usual tyres (or at most an extra-hard spec to avoid a “Michelin”) could work.

        I don’t expect it to happen, but I’d like it to. Meanwhile I have to content myself with the videogames. ¦¬)

  23. Clifton Green says:

    I would be happy with additional races, I would watch each one. I would prefer to see it more regular though with a race every two weeks, or maybe group them so that you could run it in ‘Round’ of 4 or 5 with a race each week and then a 2/3 week break. Perhaps even with each ‘Round’ having its own mini championship.

    I think Spa should most definitely stay, however I would be happy to see the back of Turkey and Valencia.

  24. As I understand it, the 20 race limit is written into the Concorde agreement, so the teams hold the trump card if Bernie wants more – the teams could veto it unless Bernie makes it worth their while.

    Personally, I would like to see a variety of weekend formats. Some could be compressed into 2 days, especially when there is only 1 week between races. At others, the Friday should be developed into a proper test day with more running and a session where the test drivers had to take part. This would solve the problems we’ve had since the in-season test ban at low cost.

    I also quite like the idea of teams staying behind on Monday after 1 or 2 GPs for young driver testing & evaluation.

    If about half of race weekends were 2 days, I think 22 races per season would be OK

    1. JamesF1 says:

      I believe you’re right about the Concorde Agreement, in fact I think the current version only allows for 16 races so the teams get paid extra for the others that have been added to the calendar since.

  25. Sean Mahoney says:

    I think 20 is definitely approaching the limit of what people will consistently watch. As a viewer, the ‘summer break’ is a frustrating one, especially when at other times you have back-to-back race weekends. A set week on/week off structure would be better, in my opinion.

    With regards to dropping certain circuits, you have to wonder why Spain deserves two Grand Prix a year with the Circuit de Catalunya and the unloved Valencia street circut. With Mayalsia and it’s rain lose out too?

    1. Baktru says:

      As far as rain goes, if you’re in the tropics that is always a risk anyway.

      KL and Singapore have a very similar climate and te chance of having a washed out Spore GP is just as high. It hasn’t happened yet, but it very well could.

  26. Duncan says:

    I think that 20 races should be the limit. I already pick and choose races (China, Barcelona and Valencia are all tedious) so adding further races would just increase the dilution.

    Of the current calender, Valencia and Hungary need to go, as both races are held on terrible circuits which consistently bore. If Turkey doesn’t seem to be viable, I won’t shed too many tears, as it hasn’t been as good as one might have hoped. I have to wonder about Malaysia, since the success of Singapore has put it a bit in the shade, however it is a major developing country, so market potential could see it stay (?).

    I hope Abu Dhabi goes, although obviously it won’t. The circuit facilities may be incomparably spectacular James, but the layout isn’t great. The race last year was dull and for a TV viewer all those facilities make the circuit look like a palm-tree dotted parking lot. I cannot understand why these cash-flush Middle Eastern countries managed to build such terrible race tracks. Being in the middle of the desert with no geographic or financial constraints should have ked to something spectacular. I mean, the have the space to do an FIA Grade 1 clone of the pre-chicane Monza. But instead managed some very nice pit complexes next to garbage circuits.

  27. Jo Torrent says:

    I’m really a hardcore fan of formula1, I look for news on a daily basis. So even if there were 40 races, I’ll manage to watch as many as possible.

    As for the 20 races, I don’t think it is an issue. The most important thing is to have a story (the story of the championship), because if it is as close as this year it won’t matter people will follow as they do with tv series, etc…
    There’s a problem when you hit a year with a FERRARI SCHUMI domination where the only question you ask is when are they going to get the title. When you’re faced with such a dull to the media to keep viewers interested !

    For example, this year racing hasn’t been that extra-ordinary. In Suzuka, the best circuit of all the calendar only KUBAYASHI saved the show and a lot of races were dull but what kept us interested is the switch in the power struggle between the teams and the drivers. Each race gave us some momentum change. What if RedBull’s race pace has matched their qualifying pace ? It would have been a duller season for sure !

    As for the grand prix we’re going to loose, I see 6 races as must have :

    - Monaco
    - Spa
    - Monza
    - Silverstone
    - Suzuka
    - a race in germany (though I hate the circuits the have, especially what they made of the Nurburgring )

    I think that a race in Germany is necessary given the importance of german drivers line up (almost 3rd the grid) and how important is Mercedes and the potential arrival of the Volkswagen group in F1.

    Afterwards 4 grand prix look interesting to me :

    - Brazil because of its history (I’ve seen great races there and a couple of last breath championship thanks to hamilton’s finish blow ups)

    - Singapore because of the night show

    - Abu Dhabi because of the magnificent twilight

    - Turkish grand prix because of its circuit. I mean for us tv viewers we don’t feel the atmosphere and we rather have a great circuit in a dull place rather than a dull circuit in a great atmosphere. The only atmosphere you feel through tv is V8′s anger ! If they can move the circuit to some other country it’s ok as well. Afterall, if Suzuka has the best sector and overall circuit, Turkey has the best corner (which is no longer eau rouge/raidillon) and the rest of the circuit isn’t bad either.

    Other than that most of the other venues could be rid of. I would start with Valencia and Bahrein ! As for Rome, a car lapping around the Collesium would be absolutely fantastic. I mean a street circuit in probably the most beautiful city in the world (la cità eterna).

  28. Jon Rowlandson says:

    I would argue that Suzuka should be treated as a special case also – considering the amount of pure F1 history the place holds; not to mention it being ranked as one of the best, if not ‘the’ best, drivers circuits.

    It’s great that F1 is expanding globally, but it must keep hold of it’s ‘jewel in the crown’ circuits if it is to retain its credibility.

    I hope the sport learnt has its lesson over the past decade – that messing with the formula too much has a negative effect on how it’s viewed by the public. Since 2001, the rules, regulations, points system and qualifying process have all chopped and changed so much that even people who’ve been following the sport for decades find it hard to keep up.

    It’s this ‘farcical’ element that Bernie and the teams need to avoid (gold medals anyone?).

    For F1 to retain it’s credibility as the pinnacle of motorsport, it needs to not only be a display of the best drivers and technical ability in the World, but also on the biggest stages of the World. To do this I’d argue that Spa, Suzuka, Monza, Monaco & Silverstone should be almost guaranteed a place on the calender every year, with fairly long-running venues like Canada, Hockenheim and Melbourne getting priority above newcomers like Turkey.

    It’s telling that since 1999 when the first of the ‘new generation’ circuits came to the calender in Malaysia – there hasn’t really been a circuit layout that’s set the World alight.
    The casual armchair fan will struggle to keep up with more than 18 races a season when half of the calendar is taken up with circuits who’s main attraction are the facilities or the well-designed grandstands.

  29. Jo Torrent says:

    How does all these trips, the jet lag affect you James and your colleagues on one hand and the team crews on the other hand ?

    I mean by that mainly your private life. Do you feel like a nomad, how do someone keep that family equilibrium, etc…..

  30. Girts says:

    19 races are not enough! There are so many more countries that deserve a Grand Prix. I’m not asking for an insane number of races like 50 but I would only love to watch the red lights going out 30 times a year. The winter break is too long, something like two-and-a-half months would be completely enough. However, I don’t see a need to change the schedules of F1 weekends.

    I have been watching F1 since the end of 1996 and I have missed only those few races when I had some really important other things to do. I have always been ready to wake up at any time to watch the sport that I love. Of course, F1 is not everything and if my whole family wants to set out on a journey and the flight is on Sunday afternoon, then I will not take another plane or stay at home just to watch F1. But I will really try to do everything that is sensible in order to watch every race live.

  31. James W says:

    20 is definitely a maximum for me. I’m all for expanding into new terrortries and markets in F1, but I dont feel that this should be at the cost of classic venues. I wouldnt miss China, Valencia or Bahrain all that much. The issue here though is that China and Bahrain pay huge amounts of money to Bernie.

    I’m very worried that we’re going to lose Spa and a german GP because of the money, and I’m sure that Bernie is falling out of love with Monza as well.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Monza is protected by the FIA as is the British, French and German GrandPrix. I only fear for Spa.
      Moreover, I don’t see FERRARI letting Bernie ditching an italian grandprix.

      1. Andy says:

        If the French GP is protected by the FIA, it can’t mean much?

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        the french grand prix problem is not that Bernie is not allowing them in, the problem is that there’s no promoter in France capable of organizing a Formula 1 event without major losses. Magny Cours, I went there once, is in the middle of nowhere, very hard to access and ticket sales weren’t great. There tried to organise an event near PARIS. There were 3 projects and none worked out because of lobbying against the event from the ecologists and the neighbourhood. If FRANCE is able to put an event, Bernie is obliged to incorporate it in the Formula 1 calendar but they aren’t ! what a shame and don’t forget that France’s prime minister is fond of racing and a driver himself !
        I don’t see a french grand prix for a long long long long ……. long time.

      3. Stevie P says:

        Err Jo, when was the last time we had a French GP? Mind you, I’ve never really liked that Magny-Cours circuit anyway.

        I agree with you on Turkey though… that (Tilke) track does provide a good and entertaing race… well, for me, it does.

        As per usual on a “topic”, it comes down to opinions… I’m not mad keen on Hungary, but I can see from comments above that some people are and they state that they like the fact it’s a different setup to other tracks – which I’d never really considered before and is quite a good thought.

        For me, I go on whether the track provides me with a decent race, with some over-takes etc, on a regular basis… Silverstone can do this, ok sometimes we get a procession, but mainly we get a good, entertaining race. And for me, the same goes for Spa.

        Until this season, I’ve always liked the Bahrain GP and circuit layout (yeah I know, there’s something wrong with me ;-)) – I wasn’t impressed by the “fiddley” new in-field section at all.

        Whereas Valencia hasn’t worked for me at all! However, I’ll still watch it… cuz it’s F1 :-)

        As for the number of races… well crank it up; but I can understand there being a tipping point for the teams (and the circus that travels with F1) where too many races make their lifes an utter pain in the backside.

  32. Motser says:

    I think they should get rid of Hungary, Turkey and Valencia

    Hungary because it is a really boring track that offers nothing to the calender, apart from a few exciting races over it’s almost 25 years history

    Turkey because no one in the country gives a damn about it. I know it’s a great track to race on but if no fans are there it’s a bit of a dud. Races should be held in countries where there is a strong support for F1, or if a strong support for F1 can be developed

    And lastly Valencia, Spain has two F1 races. It’s gone beyond the stage where a country can have two races with other countries clamouring for one.
    It would be a tragedy to lose Belgium and keep Valencia, wouldn’t it?

  33. Linda Hardy says:

    I find myself thinking “only 3 races left” then comes that long winter break, well for me downunder its summer break, but waiting for next March to come around seems to take forever, I think 20 is long enough, espcially for the drivers/teams and all the personnel that go with it, the long times they are away from home and families.

    I think we could do without Hungary, Valencia, Turkey, Bahrain, everyone seems to love Monaco but personally I don’t.

    I’d definitely want to keep Spa, Monza, Suzuka, Silverstone.

    I try to watch every race, most of which are on late at night here in Australia and I always stay up and watch them, going into work rather bleary eyed the next day but the only time I miss any is when I’m away on holidays and then I try to pick holidays at a time when one of the boring races is on, I just love watching F1.

    Probably no easy answer to all of this.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Turkey is a great track why everybody seems to forget it. We tv viewers don’t care about the atmosphere on the track. The media cares as they are there but not us. We see a tv show so why ditch a great track !!!!!!!!!!! Everybody seems to hate Turkish grandprix because the media says so.

    2. Jamie says:

      I’d be quite happy for them to ditch the Spanish GP especially the Bahrain GP. Those races are boring and bring nothing to the sport in the form of entertainment. I think casually interested people who tune into these two races are put off Formula 1 labelling it as processional and boring.

      They need more tracks with hills and undulations. Think of Spa, or Brazil or even Turkey turn 8. What makes a good track is undulating gradient so that it challenges the drivers enough to make them make mistakes. Even with the Indianapolis Race track, the interesting part was the banked curve, not the flat in-field.

  34. Stevie P says:

    “without any scientific research at all, I’ve noticed that quite a few fans, who would have expected to watch most, if not all, races find it hard to keep up with 19″ – Really?

    1. Stevie P says:

      I’m sure people can “keep up”; but as for being able to watch them all? Well, people like to take holidays and have responsibilities (ie, families) that can take precedence over F1.

    2. Mat W says:

      Yes, I was surprised at this statement as well. I don’t have a problem following 19 races (and that’s on top of all 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, DTM and BTCC)

      From a viewers point of view I would love the season to be extended to maybe 25 races although I can appreciate why the teams are against this.

  35. Silverstone79 says:

    20 races ? – seems like a bit too much of a good thing IMO.

    Saying that I am sure it would be less expensive than all the testing they used to do. Maybe if the 20 race schedule was agreed but as 2 day events rather than 3.

    Saturday unlimited running untimed as a test day and Sunday qualifying in the morning and race in the afternoon.

  36. Rasheed Finch says:

    I have not missed a single race since Canada 1997, where Panis broke his legs. Even though the calandar has grown since, it has not lead to missing a race.

    I don’t mind the great venues and long seasons; you absolutely won’t lose me as a viewer if the season consists of 22 or even more GPs.

    But I think most F1 fans have a passion for more than just the racing. Certainly in this media environment, you feel you know the drivers and team personnel very well. I’d just feel sorry for them if the calendar would go beyond 20 races. It’s probably too hard on them and I’d feel guilty.

    So yes, as a fan I could handle (and watch all) 22 or more races, but it doesn’t seem like the wise thing to do to the people running this great sport.

  37. Steve J says:

    I could handle more! I never miss a race, though I admit I’ve begun to watch the occasional race on BBC iPlayer. Telling your girlfriend you have to stay in for 3 hours every other Sunday just about works, but every week would hard to pull off!

    Spa has to stay on the calendar, as do Monaco, Monza and Silverstone!

  38. Martin says:

    I could probably handle 22 although in reality once it got past 16 the chances of being able to arrange my personal Sundays to watch all the races became more difficult so the chances are I’d always miss one or two. But it’s quite easy to watch them delayed these days without much effort, either with Sky+ or iPlayer – no need to set the VCR like the old days. The hardest bit is staying away from news programmes, Twitter, RSS feeds etc. if you don’t want to know the result.

    I agree with others who say Valencia should be axed, also Turkey (Turn 8 will be missed but there are many other great corners that will remain in F1), and also Hungary – always a bit processional and hard to pass as Schumacher found this year. Singapore’s a better spectacle than Malaysia so Malaysia could get the chop too in my opinion. Not sure about Bahrain either.

    So plenty of scope for removing some of the makeweights in the current schedule to allow these new tracks in and see what sort of show they can put on. In 5 or 10 years time we might then say well Hungary Valencia and Turkey weren’t so bad if say Korea, USA and Russia turn out to be duffers, and they could get back in, in the future. Keeping a central core of 12-15 traditional circuits and letting 8-10 others have a bash as well for a few years at a time seems a good way to go.

  39. VonSpeeX says:

    104 races please,52.. one for evey weekend and 1 in the week aswell please sir ;)

  40. glen says:

    I no longer watch all the races. I think there too many and I’m not interested by these new circuits. I tend to pick the ones I want to see.
    The Korean race looks like a piece of tarmac in the middle of nowhere.

  41. Steve JR says:

    Sometimes less is more.

    For me, this is definitely the case with Formula 1. When the championship finishes in late Autumn, I think it’s nice to chill out during the winter and reflect on what happened and also do something else every weekend!

    The winter also gives us something to get excited about as the teams go underground for a few months, emerging on the other side to do some testing which then sets off our F1 antennae and readies us for the excitement of a new season.

    If the F1 calendar is forced to become too busy or to be extended out so as to accommodate the additional venues then it stops being something special and harder to justify to non F1 spouses.

  42. JamesF1 says:

    Agree with all the views about capping the season at 20 races and maintaining the classic European circuits.

    James, I’d be interested to know whether the teams are addressing the issue of young drivers’ inexperience in the proposals to revamp GP weekends?

    I like the idea that was mooted some time ago (I think by Bernie) that teams ought to do some testing after races so that youngsters can get some seat time, but I would take it a step further and have a session on Fridays solely for their reserve/young drivers.

    It’s worked very well for di Resta this season and could well see him get the Force India drive next year, so why not make it mandatory?

    My GP weekend would look like this:

    Thursday – scrutineering and ‘meet the fans’ session

    Friday – FP1 90 minutes for young drivers only, FP2 90 minutes for regular drivers

    Saturday – FP3 90 minutes (up from 60) for regular drivers, then qualifying

    Sunday – race

    It would be good to hear your views on this.

    1. James Allen says:

      There are a lot of ideas on the table and helping young drivers on Friday is one of them

    2. Euan Taylor says:

      i think it would be a good idea to give young and reserve drivers a chance to drive on mondays then they wouldnt have to worry about holding back incase they smash their team mates car up before practice or quali.

    3. Phil Retsas says:

      If the two day route goes ahead a good option could be:

      FP1 on Saturday morning,
      Quali on Saturday afternoon,
      FP2 on Sunday Morning
      Race on Sunday afternoon.

      Whilst unusual at first glance, having a session between Quali and the Race would mean that there is some variation in the cars, so the fastest car in the race is not necessarily the fastest car in qualifying. The car on pole would not necessarily sprint off as one would expect it to now.

      Testing for the new drivers could be done on the Monday after the race, as everything is already set up so it would be cost effective, and not lead to a situation like in Barcelona where the teams are effectively over prepared.

      Re the calendar, ban testing at Barcelona so solve the problem above, there are plenty of other F1 Standard test tracks, and get rid of Bahrain, Valencia and Hungary. How hungary has survived for so long is beyond me, I hope its commercial uniqueness is reduced by the new Russian GP.

  43. Werner Berger says:

    I would like 24 races with a six week break in winter and three week break in summer. There should be a race in South Africa and in Marocco. All fly away races should be run back to back.

  44. Mr Squiggle says:

    The timezone question will become important over time.

    A number of Grands Prix are under pressure to run their race at times to suit a European audience.

    The more races there are, the harder it will be to force places like Singapore and Melbourne to run their races at unusual times.

    I think 20 is too many. 19 for this season seems too many as well, as though the occassion of a Grand Prix is becoming cheap.

  45. simon b says:

    In an odd way I now like the 7am starts on a Sunday. At least I don’t get grief from the other half that Sunday lunch/summer BBQ are always scheduled around a race! Get some South American races in the autumn for 5pm viewing – that would also be a plus.

  46. Jo Torrent says:

    James,

    I’ve got a serious question about Bernie, he is managing everything and doing it right globally. Even though he is looking for more money all the time, you feel that he cares about F1, he is interested in the drivers, he does whatever he can to help deserving teams to survive or overcome crisis like he did with Williams last year or the year before and Jordan and so many other teams.

    The problem is FOM is owned by bankers, and bankers are only interested in immediate profit. Today, Bernie is running the show and he is keeping both banks interests and F1 teams interests, but we are lucky if he is to stay 5 years ahead.

    What is the F1 future afterwards ? I’ve got a bad feeling if the banks are staying on top of it.

    There is also the FOTA structure which is becoming quite serious now. I thought that once the money issues are solved, the teams will split. They are keeping it together and they are doing some serious work like the fan polls, the gentleman agreements on how to keep costs down, or not to try and tie special relationship with Pirelli the next years. Is it possible that FOTA might end up managing FORMULA 1 once Bernie is gone ?

  47. Rod says:

    You mentioned the NASCAR season is 36 races long and this is correct, however their season is really split into two. The first 26 rounds are preliminary rounds to establish the top 12 drivers. Points are then reset and the top 12 then have a 10 round ‘final series’ (The Chase for the Sprint Cup) to establish the champion. This is a very different scenario to having a 36 round championship.

    Another point, if you look at the number of races per continent, it is notable just how many races there are in Asia (7). The Indian GP will be added soon as well. So if the season is limited to 20 races and some European races make way for India and the US, it is possible there will be as many if not more races in Asia than in Europe! Does anyone else think this is madness? Talk about alienating your fan base…

    2010 races per continent:
    9 in Europe
    7 in Asia
    1 in Australia
    1 in North America
    1 in South America
    (none in South Africa)

    A final point, the F1 championship has a limited (however large) amount of interest in it. The fewer the number of races, the more importance each one has. The more races, the more each one is diluted and reduced in value.

    There’s a reason why the Superbowl is one of the biggest & most watched sporting events year after year. It is only played once. Not 25 times.

    1. Euan Taylor says:

      yeh but the super bowl is the final of the nfl season similar to the champions league final lots of people still watch the rest of the american football games throughout the season.

  48. CNSZU says:

    The reason why Bernie sets the limit at 20 races per season is because this will create competition among countries to be included on the calendar, thus giving him a major upper hand in negotiations to ever increase the race hosting fee.

  49. AMG Fan says:

    Personally, I think the calendar can grow to over 20 events without ditching particularly worthwhile or important events. Turkey can be ditched for the reasons already explained, and perhaps Hungary can be dropped too as it isn’t exactly a core or historic European market like other Euro countries are.

    This would then leave two other new events to join the schedule without going over 20 events. But then, Russia, USA and Rome can be added without exceeding 20 races too heavily. What could happen, is that the season could start early in February then end in early December. This would allow a couple of weeks off between each race at least or more due to the earlier start time of the season and later season finale.

    I’m all for new races on the calendar. The reason why the NASCAR calendar gets tedious, is that they often race twice on some circuit’s. With F1, they would visit completely different track’s and country’s in most circumstances which means the sport will be visiting different circuit’s and spectators at every round.

    Because F1 is such a large draw for viewers, I don’t think that TV broadcasters would mind showing over 20 races. Where as if there were 20 Le Mans races or 20 WTCC races, broadcasters would reject that as those championships have minuscule TV ratings in comparison. And they wouldn’t want to broadcast so much of sports that have few viewers but take up so much air time.

  50. Flintster says:

    Crack on I say! More races the better. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to watch…I’ve not missed a race since 2001 so no issue this end!

  51. Kettman says:

    if the racing can be guaranteed to be exciting then 20 races it is, if the racing’s dull hack it back to 16 to keep the buzz.

    coming up is Korea, its an uncharted track, there’s nothing to say how the racing is going to pan out, shouldn’t there be some pre race warm ups like an F3 or GP2 to allow race assessment before F1 commitment? shouldn’t racing have some form of history at a circuit before F1 commits?

    For all we know we’ve another Turkey here [literally], first year everyone turns up and its packed, race turns out to be bahrain esk procession, next year nobody turns up to watch it but F1 is committed for how many numbers of years and as such we’re stuck with dull racing.

    There’s an overly keen desire to expand all over the world with F1 but its not for the reason i would have expected. Its getting less and less about the racing . . . which was the whole point I started watching in the first place? Who’s going to be tuning in to 20 broadcasts of automotive conga’s?

  52. Michael Grievson says:

    For me its not the number of races, it’s the number of Months. I look forward to the start of the season after the winter break to see what new designs the teams have come up with.

    Being more efficient in the race order would help add more races. Of course we could get rid of races that are boring, Valencia, Bahrain, Hungary, etc. Older circuits should be kept. Not because of heritage but because they provide the best races. Ones with little attendance can’t really be making money for the teams or CVC

  53. Monkey Boy says:

    I couldn’t disagree more with the number of races being too many, I would much prefer if there were 25+ races a year, and they were every week with a summer break of say 4 weeks.

    If the races were every week the teams would have to develop the cars on the road, which has made the practice sessions much more interesting this year. I’ve found myself watching all 3 practices this year where in the past I’ve never been interested.

    The fans may well pick and choose which races to watch, but I can only see this as a good thing. It will highlight the least popular races and bring pressure to either remove them or change something to make them more interesting and draw in viewers. Conversely, it may show up that races which are perceived as the most popular venues are not after all (such as the spa viewing figures mentioned above). The fans would be able to vote with their feet (or tv remotes) to promote change.

    I personally dislike barcelona and watch all the covereage up to the race itself, then switch off after the first 10 minutes as nothing happens after that. But the grandstands are always full, and I would be interested to see it’s viewing figures. So whilst I may not like it, the majority of spanish fans may disagree. Silverstone can be just as boring unless it rains, but I wouldn’t want that to go and always watch it regardless.

    What I’d really like to see is an on-line referendum hosted by F1.com on subjects like this, but of course F1 is a dictatorship, not a democracy. Maybe you could put up a vote for less than 20 races, 20 races, more than 20 races, and we can see what the numbers are?

  54. jay jacob says:

    JA,
    F1′s off-season in winter is the most boring part of my life; I don’t follow football, tennis, golf or any other major sport at all !!
    There’s 52 weeks in a year, use it as much as possible, but consider the possibility that teams take part only 85% of races; thus encouraging more flexibility, potentially more teams involved, and potentially more revenue for everyone.

  55. Andy C says:

    James

    The thought of listening to Jonathan leggard 25 times a year might turn me off watching :-)

    I am a committed long term fan of f1 and I think too many races would actually spoil it.

    If they added another 4 herman designed tracks it would not add any excitement to the season.

    And as a young dad, the practicalities of trying to sit down to watch all gps live would be even more difficult. Thank goodness for sky plus!

  56. Maciej says:

    I think as the number of races increases it is increasingly important to modernize the broadcasting. For example, I don’t like watching recorded race in the evening because I don’t have live timing. I would like more races but I would need to be able to have live timing playback. This could be easily done on the website.

  57. Slaven says:

    I could menage without Barcelona and Valencia, Hungaroring is also one of those not so interesting tracks, but yeah, money talks… Pity for Turkey, would have been shame if they scrap it. My opinion, more races more fun, bring them on, I’ll be in front of the TV, that’s for sure

  58. Gilberto says:

    When I look to the calendar and think about cutting some circuits, I can just think of the ones projected by Hermann Tilke (in Portuguese, we use the word “autódromo” for circuits, and the F1 fans came up with the word “tilkódromo” to refer to these circuits in a pejorative way). I can see Spa going out of the calendar quite soon, Interlagos will go along as well, then one day will be Monza’s and Silverstone’s time. Even Monte Carlo was threatened by Ecclestone… What he is not understanding is that Russia, India and the other new countries are offering a lot of money right now, but when he starts to loose fans and the sponsors start to stop to help the sport, what will be? Can you imagine a calendar completely designed by Tilke? Unfortunately, I can.

  59. Richard Craig says:

    I would say no more than 20 and I would keep the following (this list is irrespective of annoying things like, um, contracts!)

    Rd 1 AUSTRALIA (Melbourne)
    Rd 2 MALAYSIA (Sepang)
    Rd 3 CHINA (Shanghai)
    Rd 4 SPAIN (Valencia Street Circuit)
    Rd 5 MONACO (Monte Carlo)
    Rd 6 CANADA (Gilles Villeneuve)
    Rd 7 RUSSIA (Sochi)
    Rd 8 BRITAIN (Silverstone)
    Rd 9 GERMANY (Nurburgring)
    Rd 10 HUNGARY (Budapest)
    Rd 11 BELGIUM (Spa)
    Rd 12 ITALY (Monza)
    Rd 13 SINGAPORE (Marina Bay)
    Rd 14 INDIA (Delhi)
    Rd 15 JAPAN (Suzuka)
    Rd 16 KOREA (Yeongam)
    Rd 17 USA (Austin)
    Rd 18 BRAZIL (Interlagos)
    Rd 19 ABU DHABI (Yas Marina)

    This leaves space for a race in France (or Portugal if Portimao were interested) or South Africa which seems likely somewhere down the line. I would keep Valencia street circuit and run it as the Spanish round (as with the removal of DDD, F-Ducts and the impeding new engine formula of 2013) I think this track can promote exciting racing if it is given the chance. Hungary I would keep only because Bernie will never let it leave the calendar (unless the presence of a Russian race makes him less inclined to protect). China is great (delivered two exciting wet races in succession in 2009 and 2010 so gets my vote for this reason). I would love Brazil to be the last race of the season but it makes sense to back-to-back it with Texas (to avoid the heat of the summer) rather than go USA – Abu Dhabi – Brazil. I also think Yas Marina is another Tilke track which has thus far been emasculated by the current aero regs and which will be a great layout when the next rules package is enacted…

  60. Matt says:

    Great post.

    Personally, I could easily take in 22 races. I started recording the GPs in ’91 (Spa was my first) and have forever since watched them on Monday or Tuesday, running away from radios like a blathering loony. The flexibility makes it easier to take in all that content.

    So, I welcome the new tracks, as long as someone confiscates Hermann Tilke’s curve stencil.

    As for what should stay and what should go: Shanghai would be top of my list to go – it’s like a racing track for librarians – unbelievable. Others that would be in the personal firing line are Barcelona, Malaysia, Hockenheim (the newer circuit) and Bahrain. Back in the day I would have said Hungary, but it’s actually quite a novelty now compared to the modern tracks (particularly with reprofiled first corner).

    Tracks that IMHO need to stay are, in order, Spa, Silverstone, Monza, Sao Paulo, Suzuka and perhaps Montreal. Albert Park is great too, although it perhaps lacks a bit of heritage.

    Tracks that need to change a bit: Nurburgring (get rid of the rhythm-breaking recent addition at the start – otherwise, great track that always throws up a good race), Singapore (lose the gimmicky ‘bus stop’ that goes under the stand, thus gaining another passing spot into the last corner), Valencia (the third quarter of the track needs to be rethought).

    Tracks that I’d like to see back: Imola and the old Hockenheim (difficult now that they’ve ripped up the tarmac – hope there was a good reason for this).

  61. Ihsan says:

    I would watch as many races as they can throw at me. I’ve been watching F1 since 1987 and apart prom two seasons I missed to watch when I first moved to North America, I have not missed more than two-three races a season.

    It would be sad to see Turkey go however, as think it is a very very good track as far as modern Tilke tracks go. I think traditional tracks as Silverstone, Monaco, Monza, Spa etc. should stay with some of the boring new tracks can alternate every year. Especially if there are two tracks in one country as we have in Germany and Spain.

  62. pingu666 says:

    I follow nascar, and it feels odd to have a week off..

    imo the spanish tracks should rotate and we just have 1 race there a year. both tracks are dull :\

    i wouldnt mind more than 20 races a year

    would like to know what the cost difference is for the teams between a 3day test and a grand prix.

    also we need another grandprix with monza spec aero :)

  63. Ben G says:

    The more races the better for me.

    The problem with going so global is that, for a viewer, it makes the race timings so variable – it might be crack of dawn or later afternoon, with a one week gap or a three week gap.

  64. tristan says:

    the more races the better, i wouldn’t have any trouble watching every single one!

    i think there’s an opportunity to add interest to an expanding calendar by grouping the races into “minor series”, either geographically, or by heritage.

    geographically makes sense and is easy to imagine. you could have a “european premier” or an “asia pacific premier” and this driver could be rewarded somehow for winning these “minor series”.

    heritage would be interesting too: you could have a “classics league”, a “modern league” (for the newest venues), and a league between the two… this could create incentives for the venues to try and be “promoted” into the classics league. and perhaps the points system could reflect the added value of winning at a classic venue…

    i think it’s great that f1 is expanding more and more into a truly global event. i think this creates an opportunity to enhance the story behind the sport and add new layers via geographical or heritage driven leagues… james, you know people, make it happen!

  65. Jamie says:

    I did a little bit of research into this a few days back, to see which countries currently have contracts, and for how long (not including ‘options’ for further years).

    This is what I found:

    2011
    Bahrain
    Australia
    Malaysia
    China
    Turkey
    Spain
    Monaco
    Canada
    Europe
    Britain
    Germany
    Hungary
    Belgium
    Italy
    Singapore
    Japan
    South Korea
    India
    Abu Dhabi
    Brazil

    2012
    Bahrain
    Australia
    Malaysia
    Spain
    Monaco
    Canada
    Europe
    Britain
    Germany
    Hungary
    Belgium
    Italy
    Singapore
    South Korea
    India
    Abu Dhabi
    Brazil
    USA

    2013
    Bahrain
    Australia
    Malaysia
    Spain
    Monaco
    Canada
    Europe
    Britain
    Germany
    Hungary
    Italy
    South Korea
    India
    Abu Dhabi
    Brazil
    USA

    2014
    Bahrain
    Australia
    Malaysia
    Spain
    Monaco
    Canada
    Europe
    Britain
    Germany
    Hungary
    Italy
    South Korea
    India
    Abu Dhabi
    Brazil
    USA
    Russia

    2015
    Bahrain
    Australia
    Malaysia
    Spain
    Monaco
    Europe
    Britain
    Germany
    Hungary
    Italy
    South Korea
    India
    Abu Dhabi
    Brazil
    USA
    Russia

    2016
    Bahrain
    Spain
    Monaco
    Europe
    Britain
    Germany
    Hungary
    Italy
    South Korea
    India
    Abu Dhabi
    USA
    Russia

    2017
    Monaco
    Britain
    Germany
    India
    USA
    Russia

    2018
    Monaco
    Britain
    Germany
    India
    USA
    Russia

    2019
    Monaco
    Britain
    India
    USA
    Russia

    2020
    Monaco
    Britain
    India
    USA
    Russia

    note that even as far away as 2014, there are currently 17 countries with contracts, with a choice from China, Turkey, Belgium, Singapore and Japan to fill the remaining 3 slots.

    Once we get past 2016 however, there is scope for serious changes, should they wish to.

  66. azac21 says:

    The balance between making money and keeping F1 a quality competition seems to be around 20 races at the moment.

    I do/would watch all races myself but this is because that at the end the best car-driver combination is likely to win a meaningful title. Do we want to go down the premiere/champions league root? See drivers’ careers extinct after 2-3 seasons?

  67. Justin says:

    Hi James,

    If you take football as an example, the game is 90 minutes long and I believe there is something like a 30 minute break at half time (I’m guessing I’m not a fan), which is basically equivalent of a 2 hour race. Now the vast majority of people in the UK find time to watch lets say 2 games a week (one evening game and a Saturday game).
    So I’m not sure that there is really too much F1 if compared with football. That said as an avid F1 fan I do find it difficult to find enough time to watch everything, but that is mostly due to the excellent TV coverage we have now which extends a 2 hour race to something like 4 hours of viewing (not including practice and qualifying)

  68. leukocyte says:

    Fascinating discussion. 20 races feels right but 22 could probably be accommodated if the length of the season remains about 8 to 9 months.

    Having been involved in the running of a WRC round on an alternate year basis, I am strongly of the opinion that this works very poorly – there is simply not enough momentum to sustain sponsors, volunteers and officials, and valuable corporate memory is lost to the organisers at a much greater rate.

    Viewing habits are much more likely to be influenced by irregular timezones than championship fatigue in my opinion, possibly Bernie’s greatest challenge in taking the sport truly global.

    The suggestion that Spa suffers poor viewer interest is an intriguing one. If July-August European holidays are to blame then Germany, Hungary and possibly Silverstone should be equally affected – this doesnt seem to be the case.

  69. John Player says:

    I think 16 races was enough and 20 is the maximum. Maximum for the teams, considering costs. For TV, I think the number could be slightly bigger. After all, there is a possiblity to record races when needed, instead of watching them live.

    First races to drop, should be those “Swiss GP”-s, Valencia and the plans of Rome GP. Every country should hold only one GP per year, plus Valencia is indeed dull. Compared to Monza or re-opened Imola, Rome would be dull too. The layout I have seen was not that appetising.

    Turkey is a difficult one. Good track with elevation changes and stuff, but grandstands are empty. Bahrain looks lonely too, but as the circuit is nothing compared to Istanbul park, Shakhir should be dropped instead.

    What I would like to see, is more “moving” GP-s, if there are more than one circuit usable. For example, season 2011 with Monza and Donington, season 2012 with Imola and Silverstone etc. Hoping to see f1 returning to Portugal and France too(Paul Ricard?).

  70. Racyboy says:

    I don’t mind how many there are, as long as they don’t clash too much with MotoGP…so far so good.
    How about squeezing in 24 by starting the season earlier?
    Have Friday as an unlimited test day (using reserve drivers).
    Saturday, practice and quali
    Sunday, race
    I like the idea of a Sunday morning top six 1 lap shootout(for points), although it’s probably not too media friendly.

    Lose Valencia and Bahrain 1st followed by China and Hungary.

    Silverstone Spa Monza and Monaco should probably be F1 Heritage listed.(even though Monaco is a ridiculous place for a modern F1 race), but I guess it’s not really about the racing there.

    Enough with new street circuits, unless it’s
    New York or London.

    And in an increasingly energy conscious world, maybe Formula 1 at night might need a rethink.

  71. leukocyte says:

    Bahrain, and especially Malaysia seem to have escaped very lightly in the discussion so far about which races could be dropped.

  72. Robyn says:

    Put me down for 25 races per year, please! ;-) Seriously — from my perspective, the more races, the better. I’ll happily watch every minute of coverage SpeedTV/FOX is willing to give me, even when it’s in the middle of the night.

  73. Ed says:

    The first change that needs to be made is not allowing any country to have more than one race. Hence, Valencia should go, and its ridiculous that Bernie is allowing a Rome GP when that means another country will probably miss out.

  74. jonrob says:

    Races to be dropped will be the ones which pay Bernie the least, unless they are of the “protected” genre.
    Some new ones will last only a couple of years anyway since they are in places where ticket sales will not cover the costs (mainly capital repayments and Bernie’s fees) of putting the race on, the grandstands will remain almost empty, the income from circuit merchandising concessions (also Bernie’s) will fall to nothing, the only attendees being hardcore fans in the stands and the great mass of corporate freeloaders who fill the hostility lounges paying for nothing. (Yes and a few genuine sponsors) Ticket prices kill the sport for locals in many countries. Very few circuits actually make a decent profit from F1, that all goes to Bernie’s various companies, it’s the national and club racing that supports the cost of hosting an F1 event. CVC is hugely in debt, so do we see Bernie bicycling to events dressed in rags?

  75. Luke B says:

    “What you might see is fans picking and choosing the races they watch, missing ones they consider dull, like Valencia, for example, or not bothering to set the alarm for a race in the Far East.”

    or just record it on sky + etc if they are busy..

  76. DonB says:

    For me and the F1 fans that I know, we all want more races. My big worry about this is the loss of the Canadain GP. I have felt this way since the mention of the USA GP. Canada is always a sell out and a very exciting race. The fans and drivers like it. As mentioned by others there are a few races that don’t bring in the crowds needed to support the sport.

    James what are your feeling on what tracks would be droped tp bring in these exciting new venues?

  77. Jamie says:

    I’ve been a die-hard fan for many years. I’ve noticed that when we had 16/17 races, I would watch every minute of every race and qualifying. This is first year I’ve not done so. I only watched the highlights show for 2 of the races this year (Spain was one, forget which was the other), the ones which are usually processional. I didn’t watch the 2nd qualifying session at Japan, and am shocked I didn’t miss it or have any motivation to watch it.
    If we had 16/17 races I think I would be more into it watching every race in detail, but greater than 17, it’s too much time and I’m starting to dip in and out a bit.
    It saddens me, but maybe the more races we have, the more die-hard fans will become passive fans…
    Another thing to consider is maybe it’s a reflection on how society is going with its striving for instant gratification and a short attention span.

    1. Glen says:

      I find I am doing this too. I think the BBC drag the coverage out too much.

      I can watch the bits I want via the iPlayer and obtain information, which I find interesting through websites like this and ITV-F1.

      Generally there can be more interesting things to do on Sunday rather than being sat in front of the TV; week in week out.

    2. Gaspar says:

      Well , i can’t understand this . I mean i understand if in 30 days there are too many matches in the World Cup . But we talking here about a 2 weeks , sometimes 1 week programming. So the gap will remain , maybe the season will start at very early march , and late november . So what’s the problem ?

      1. Jamie says:

        Maybe you’re watching too much TV mate. There’s more to life than TV and sport. Sundays are also for visiting friends and families, cycling, reading a book, board games, walking in the country, playing music, or playing a computer game.

        Besides, I think it’s good to wet the appetite, and a two week gap makes the whole F1 weekend more special, and a few months off over winter where I get more and more desperate for a race only adds to the excitement.

        I wish they didn’t start the season with Bahrain. It’s often such an anti climax after the build up of the off-season.

        I don’t watch football, but a good comparison is the world snooker finals. I record as many matches as I can and then slowly digest them through the year. I don’t have much time for TV, and it’s remarkable that I spend so much time catching all practise sessions, race and post race commentary.

        PS: David Croft ROCKS!!!

  78. Craigy J says:

    I think put as many races on as Bernie & the Teams can agree on. I’ll still do what I do now and pick the ones I want to watch.

    I consider myself a die hard fan and am certainly the biggest fan of anyone I know. I log onto James Allen, BBC and GP Update a couple of times each a day to check for news. But the time slot for a race is just a little inconvenient right in the middle of the day. It means I cant go out for the day anywhere or do much before or after the race. I love the flyaway races cos I can get up watch the race and crawl back into bed next to my lovely wife just in time for another hours kip and then some breakfast in bed. HEAVEN!

    Lets shake it up with the timing of the races. Lets have some weekday evening ones! 7.30 pm race start, done by 9.30 half an hour of post race yabbering and then bed.

  79. Jodum5 says:

    I think there should definitely be a limit of the number of races. I was happy with 16-18, but I see myself doing okay with 19. Maybe I could live with 22, who knows? But the sport should be selective about where it goes and not just follow the money.

  80. chris says:

    Having qualifying and the race on the same day would mean no qualifying results on the news on a Saturday night, which I’m sure acts as reminder for a lot of people that the race is on the next day.

  81. bmw1806 says:

    No more than 20 races! We have to think of the team personel being away from home and their families. Drop one in Spain, no country deserves more than 1 race. Then the least well attended, like Turkey.
    Then let FOTA decide; not Bernie, who may well pass away soon; because they are the ones who do all the work!

  82. Stefanos says:

    James, I think that more races will inevitably attract more fans. The hardcore fans will watch them all and there will be bigger choice and more opportunities for the occasional fans (the majority) to catch a race.

    I also feel that the timing of races in the far East is becoming less of a problem as more and more countries introduce systems similar to Sky Plus. I record the race and watch it as soon as I wake up. I can even fast-forward when I want (i.e. if the pre-race build-up is going on a bit…).

    Also, compared with hardcore fans from other sports, it is much easier to follow than going to the footbal stadium every other Sunday.

    So, I don’t see a need to set a maximum number of races, other than the costs to the teams. They could be reduced substantially if the entire F1 caravan did not have to jump back and forth between continents. And by managing the gaps between races better. The teams are currently having to spend 2 weeks somewhere between Japan and Korea, which is costing money.

  83. Kurt Raphael says:

    Dear James,
    Finally a clever journalist bringing this up.
    Everytime I see a headline with Ecclestone doing deals or talking about new possible venues, I think, another one? What about the long term view on the F1-calendar? Bernie clearly thinks using the present tense. He does a deal for India 2011, Austin 2012, (Rome?2012), 2014 but I’m seriously wondering if he had a moment thinking what the calendar will look like with all the other deals in place. I know that the FOM wants to get rid of certain races that do not generate enough cash (eg SPA, MELBOURNE), but he should listen more to what the fans want, not his wallet. I would love to see the media questioning Ecclestone about all this new exciting destinations and his view with places like SPA. I hope RUSSIA can deliver, it would’t surprise me that we see scenario’s like Donington and Koria. 20 races should really be the absolute maximum. Alternating is a great alternative. Stretching the season too long, we will probably have great racing but the midseason will be too long. And the teams themselves… poor them! How many times do I hear the drivers saying “Great from the team, they worked flat out and most mechanics only had a couple of hours sleep…” Adding more races, more sleep deprivations, more logistical nightmares for team members and unnecessary jetlags. And another thing, where is the FIA-voice and their cost-cutting initiatives. This clearly doesn’t make sense to me. More races = More costs. No matter what.
    I do understand the fact that F1 needs to evolve and its calendar can’t be always the same and it actually has never been. Now we are getting to a point where F1 and its stakeholders need to question: Where is this going? FIA, FOTA, GDPA, have your say…

  84. Jonathan says:

    I have missed 1 race since 1986……………
    The more the merrier I say. 16 races for me was excruciating!

  85. Bruce Hoult says:

    I don’t have TV, but I follow every race live (and most qualis too) on the Live Timing on formula1.com and on the iPad app (for the track positions). I then torrent the video and watch it usually 12 hours or so after the race.

    I’m in New Zealand, so the european races are at midnight, the asian ones (except Singapore) in early evening, and North/South American ones at oh-stupid-hundred.

    I would watch as many races as there were, at one per week. I don’t like the two week breaks in the calendar.

    So I support Bernie getting as many new races as he can, subject to:

    - not exhausting the teams/drivers
    - being able to physically get between the venues quickly enough
    - not taking on extra races just to make an arbitrary quota, but only as and when financially rewarding deals are negotiated.

  86. PaulL says:

    Definitely keep Friday. Two days action is too little for the fans.

    My favorite setting was in 2003 when we had 2x hotlap quali sessions. I loved being able to watch and have commentary on how the lap is progressing. Nowdays we just get to see everybody cross the finish line.

  87. azac21 says:

    James,
    any chance you set up a vote to see which F1 GPs the crowd here prefers?

    1. John van Zoest says:

      I agree.

  88. Steve Rogers says:

    Here’s mu 2p worth:

    I agree that Silverstone, Spa, Monaco and Monza should remain, but I’ve already lost four of my favourites (Adelaide, Magny-Cours, the old Imola and the old Hockenheim), as well as the Austrian A1-Ring which was OK, so I don’t have too much hope.

    Of the current tracks, I think the Chinese track deserves to be kept, and as long as a few people actually turn up next time it will remain. Also Melbourne & Sao Paolo, they’re classics. Nuremberg’s F1 ring is a little star. And Canada, I’m glad that’s come back.

    But I’d happily drop most of the other tracks, because apart from Shanghai they’re all rather uninspired – so roll on any new suggestions. But I’m *really* sick of hearing the name “Tilke” and feel that the new Silverstone is an eloquent illustration that other designers should definitely be getting a look-in.

    I’m not bothered how many races there are, I’ll just watch what I want to watch anyway.

    1. Steve Rogers says:

      Oh, and Malaysia, that’s OK too.

  89. Chris C says:

    I think the direction that Bernie is talking is making sense. 20 races is a good limit leaving a full 3 months (at least) for preparation work and rest for the teams. However moving to 22-24 races would be possible if some of these were back to back.
    I am also in favor of the moves he is currently making, like S. Korea (due to car manufacturers), India (huge population), USA (affluent consumers / car manufacturers) and Russia (large population and emerging economy)
    When it comes to what races should go out, my first though is in Valencia, which by far is the most boring and ugly race. I think as soon as the contracts expires it should go out. Another thought goes to the Mid East. Do we really need 2 races in this region? Take out Bahrain and leave UAE that has made a big investment and offers more than the race itself. Both races have limited audience anyway. Then another question comes up with the tandem of Singapore and Malaysia. Again, do we really need both races? I understand that Malaysia is investing a lot (due to Lotus) but the Singapore one offers more towards the audience (mainly TV) and gives a nice counterpart to Monaco for the East.
    The rest we should keep in my opinion. Turkey its true that it is not very good in terms of organization and audience, but the track is nice and gives a nice opportunity to have a foothold in an emerging country with an interesting city to visit for the people outside Turkey. If it was taken out then one should replace it with a track near Paris which is sorely missed rather than the new tracks. Hungaroring is considered boring by TV audience but it is a great venue for the people watching live (personal experience), the tandem of the German venue should be clarified because it makes no sense in terms of investment. Finally what is missing is a race in Africa. How about Egypt or S. Africa?

  90. Kalim says:

    22 races. Let’s broaden the reach of the sport. Spain doesn’t need two races and as great a track as it is, Turkey doesn’t deserve a GP if they aren’t willing to develop a motorsports culture and racing infrastructure like Malaysia successfully did. The same goes for China.

  91. Andrew H says:

    I love F1 and I do try to watch every race. I do skip the middle of the night races though I have to say. Personally I hate the ‘off’ season and feel real withdrawal symptoms until the start of the new season – this was made easier last winter by keeping up to date with thing on this great website though! I would like more races, but as others have said above – some evening races would be great – a 7.30pm start in the UK for a few would make life a lot easier as it can be hard sometimes to negociate a Sunday afternoon watching the TV with the wife.

  92. Rob Jackson says:

    The more races the better imho. 19 races don’t fill 19 afternoons. Early morning starts on at least four races and an evening for Brazil don’t eat up the middle of too many Sundays. And, to be honest, for most of this season I’ve recorded the races and watched them on time delay.

    As to dropping circuits, we could ditch Valencia (boring), Turkey (only one good corner)and Malaysia (too close to Singapore & a circuit too similar to China which may have no real fan base but a huge economy).

  93. Vince T says:

    The more races the better I say! I live in western Canada, and I record most races on the PVR and watch them after I get up on Sundays. Rarely do I wake up to watch the European races live (that’s a 6:00am start time for me), but I stay up for the Asian races and watch the ones in my hemisphere live, of course.

    I do think the classic venues need to stay for sure. I would like to see Imola back, but I doubt it would come back.

  94. Andy says:

    A reoccurring theme is the premium placed upon the “classic tracks” which often combine heritage with great layouts – Spa, Silverstone, Monza, Monte Carlo (the view!), Sao Paulo, Suzuka…

    Seems that the the new tracks generally are not seen to be so great.

    So my question would be – is there even the remotest chance that we will ever see heritage circuit make a come back?

    If so which would be the most likely & why?

    (some ideas – Imola (San Marino), A1-Ring, Estoril, Kyalami, Paul Ricard, Watkins Glen, Autódromo Juan y Oscar Gálvez, Zandvort… etc)

    Which if any could compete with the Spas, Suzukas etc.. for racing?

    1. Curro says:

      We need more “classic” tracks, that’s true. But let’s be realistic, those are not the races that Bernie is after. Big money is elsewhere.

      A1-Ring is a disgrace and such a pity they had to destroy the Osterreichring to build that piece of cr*p.

  95. George says:

    Hi James, I think one issue with too many races is: will the teams have time to develop next year’s car… so if the calendar starts March and ends November. This means you have only Feb to focus on the new car?

  96. andrew says:

    Do football fans get bored of watching their football team 40+ times a year? Nope. Do football fans not bother watching pre season tournaments or check up on the results? nope. If more than 20 races are logistically and financially possible then there should be more. Adding more races doesn’t make it harder to follow nor would interest wane – If anything it’s fan base would increase.

    I think this blog is great James but unfortunately I think this article has been posted just for the sake of updating the site I’m afraid…

  97. Gaspar says:

    Of course i want more races , and i think even 25 not a bad idea , but being reasonable i guess 20 is the right number . Probably couple of tracks need an alternate hosting , for example Hungary/Turkey , Bahrain/Malaysia , and an European GP , who can be hosted again by different countries , not just Spain , Valencia . So tracks like Magny Cours , Imola , Estoril can be back time to time . Clearly Spa and Monte Carlo has to stay , they are F1 brands like Ferrari.

  98. John Snow says:

    I think get rid of Friday practise, still have Saturday practise and qualifying. Give the teams Monday for testing. That way the teams get their testing, new drivers get their experience, the ‘race’ weekend is condensed and we can have more races. The track will be greener for longer and the drivers less prepared which should make the racing more interesting. Most other series get far less practise time.

  99. Alexx says:

    If races are what generate the income for teams and TV, and drivers always want to race, surely there should be more races, from Feb – Nov.

    25 per season. The interest will be there from the fans! The increase form 16 to 20 happened.

    Somehow i doubt the German GP is fragile with 5 german drivers on the grid and Mercedes suppling 3 teams engines.

  100. Tyler says:

    In this day of the internet, instant global communication (and for some DVR), the argument that is “hard to keep up with” doesnt hold water. If Ecclestone’s expansion was adding colorful “classic” races to the calendar that would be one thing… but most of the new tracks are dull. Imola was always a great race and that its gone at the expense of some of these bore fests is just one example of Bernie’s global greed march. The more races the better….but get a track designer that knows how to create a race…not a parade.

  101. Neil says:

    I want 30 to 40 races a year. I HATE the mid summer break. Of course team members should get a vacation, but this should be on a rotating basis, perhaps even compulsory so that every team worker gets time off. The extra revenue from more races could pay for the extra costs without any problem.

    I love that NASCAR idea described here with the top drivers points getting reset for the final “dash for the cup”

  102. Nil says:

    James, I’d like to share a few points and it would be great if you could offer us some insight into these.

    1) How hard is it for organizers and team sponsors to have competitions where fans can win tickets to GPs? And why just tickets to the paddock? They could also sponsor tickets through competitions and events for general stands. The sponsors get more advertising and this could be done for places which have low attendance from locals.

    2) There is something to be said about generating local interest. Even though Spain had a GP since ’91, there was arguably no interest from the nation until Alonso’s years at Renault. There should be an incentive for a nation to follow a new sport and putting a track in a new market just doesn’t cut it.

    3) I’ve been looking without much success for an answer to why Tilke has a monopoly on designing the tracks. Are the teams and drivers consulted when designing the tracks? Fans will start skipping the boring races which are decided at first corner or which need a change of weather to avoid a procession.

    4) Is there a technical issue on the site? This is my fifth attempt to submit a comment today and none of them even show up as ‘Awaiting moderation’. They disappear as soon as I comment!

    1. James Allen says:

      Spain had a race before 91, that’s when it moved from Jerez to Barcelona. I think any new race has to invest in grass roots as they do in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, that’s the way to build interest and longevity of the event in a new market. There are many competitions to win tickets. Paddock passes are harder to come by but they do get auctioned for charity sometimes. Tilke doesn’t have a monopoly – Silverstone used Populous to redesign.

      1. Nilesh says:

        Thanks for the reply! Regarding your last point, I’d seen that video on your site. :) A near monopoly by Tilke is what I meant.

  103. EM says:

    Tracks I’d miss:

    Monaco, Montreal, Spa, Interlagos, Melbourne, Italy, Singapore

    Tracks I wouldn’t miss:
    Silverstone, Hungaroring, China, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Sepang, Turkey, either German one, either Spanish one, Japan

    We should aim to keep F1 in Britian, Germany and Spain but their current circuits just don’t produce the racing.

  104. Mike says:

    I agree with Tyler, hard to keep up???? I live for the weekends, DVR the practice on Speed in Canada and DVR quali and the race on TSN and I watch it an hour after so I miss the adverts and I have a wonderfull weekend. How about 30 races and the teams have two crews to give the break they need.
    The more races the better. Now if we could get the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for 2011 the world will be a beautiful place.
    F1 doesn’t need to be pure (green). It’s doing a great job now and is getting better. There are a lot of other things we can look at why not have everyone on earth stop eating at McDonalds, this would get rid of how many tons of garbage?? (not only the wrappers) and stop with the Starbucks, how many paper cups daily in the trash ie how many millions of tree could be saved? This navel gazing worrying about what people are thinking is silly.
    F1 is racing and though I try to be green as well I think f1 is doing it’s part and is only getting better.
    Roll on Russia!

  105. fausta says:

    For me the more races the better. I would love F1 to go back to South Africa and Argentina, or Portugal. More consecutive weekends at closer circuits. I could watch them every weekend.

  106. marc says:

    No limit it is fantastic as it is. There is no testing now so friday practice is a must. It can be viewed on iplayer its great as a fan to get extra technical insites. As for saturday qualifying that is spot on now differant things have been tried with it over the years but nothing betters the format that they have now. As for the races the lengths are spot on. And more races the better added to the calendar i hate it when the seasons end and having to wait four months until the blue touch paper is lit once again. As for fans not keeping up with it thats rubbish with all the recording devices around now and the internet we can all catch up when we want. Formula one is fantastic as it is sure there is always room for improvement like giving drivers penaltys for trying over taking moves that dont come tough thats racing. Kobiashi is the exception tn the rule we need more like him. Please stop medling with the sport its great as it is.

  107. Rich C says:

    I’m ok with 20, or even more.

    But if any current venues have to go, well Valencia should be the 1st but Spa should never go!

    I’ve always wanted to know whay Spain gets 2 GP’s anyway, and places like Argentina or South Africa or Mexico have none.

    My guess is its directly related to the number of other Billionaires Bernie could hang with at each location.

  108. guy says:

    If they do sacrifice Spa or Suzuka to make room for these new GP’s what is the likely-hood of having non-championship rounds at these tracks?

    It seems like a great way to experiment with reverse grids or two heat races as opposed to a 2 hour event. The teams could also use it as PR and run drivers from different series. Simon Pagenaud, Jeff Gordon, Sebastian Loeb, or Valentino Rossi racing at Spa would be worth watching.

    They cold return to Kyalami, or Zolder, or run a race at Algarve, Fuji, Laguna Seca…

  109. John van Zoest says:

    As much as I find the prospect of more races enjoyable,My concern is for the teams.At some point the truck drivers, caterers, aerodynamicists,mechanics,drivers etc will burn out, because the workload becomes too great. There comes a point where it will, especially since the teams are downsizing, but no doubt wanting to maintain their competencies in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. How many more races can they sustain ?

  110. Carlos Marques says:

    The problem is the *new* circuits all look the same and all produce boring races. The tracks feel “fake”. Missing 2 or 3 races is not a big deal, really.

    The beauty of Spa, Suzuka, Monaco and Monza is the fact they offer unique tracks that cannot be found anywhere else.

    More races? My answer is yes if the new tracks offer something unique. I would stay awake to watch F1 race in the US @ Indy in a full-oval layout for instance.

    1. Carlos Marques says:

      Forgot to mention:

      - Laguna Seca in the US would be another amazing circuit.

      - The old Imola track was also amazing to watch.

      -Indy if we remove most of the infield turns and make the circuit more high-speed like Monza.

    2. Rabbit Leader says:

      The reason why so many of the newer circuits have the same look and feel is because they are Tilkedromes!

  111. Hawk says:

    I think we should have a 2-day week-end with one practice session and quali on Saturday, and secondly have 3 straight races followed by 3 weeks of break.
    In terms of race venues, some of Bernie’s decisions are quite poor, like having 2 races in Spain, or 2 in the Middle East, or 5 in the Far East. And he wants to add Rome. Sounds quite ridiculous.
    Here’s how he should divide it:
    6 Europe (Monaco, Monza, Barca, GB, BE, DE)
    3 Far East (Japan, China, Malaysia)
    3 North America (Canada, 2*US)
    1 Middle East (Bahrain or Abu Dhabi)
    1 India
    1 Russia
    1 Australia
    1 Finale in South America (Brazil)
    3 Free slots (1 voted by teams, 1 by fans, 1 by Bernie)

  112. Cliff says:

    I’d like to see more races, but it wasn’t that long ago that F1 was trying to reduce costs. I suppose some will say that the revenues generated will cancel out the additional costs, but what about the employees who will be expected to travel and be away from their families? If the expansion continues, teams will surely need to employ additional staff. I would like to see more races, I just hope someone considers the human element.

  113. Alan Quinn says:

    I have stated before and I still think its worth a try. Bernie wants all these new venues yet stick to a tidy number of 17-19 races per year, why not do a 2 season rotation on the entire calendar, Bernie gets all the new venues like Russia, Bulgaria, Rome, USA, Mexico, South Africa etc etc. he could have up to 34-38 races to choose from.

  114. Kurtis says:

    I like 16-18 races, I have watched every race and quali for the past 10 years and would think that 20 races just wouldn’t add much to the championship or the racing.

    As for what to get rid of, the ones that are good racing wise would be Australia, Malaysia, Spain, Canada, Britian, Germany, Spa, Italy, Japan, Brazil. To me anything else can go. Monaco has some nice moments over the years but rather boring racing, but we all know it will never leave. Valencia is boring and adds nothing, not sure why Spain still has 2 races. Honestly Hungary is probably the absolute worst and has needed to go for a long time. It reminds my the French GP and how awful that one was, thank god they finally got rid of it a few years back.

  115. Kiran Hudson says:

    We need to retain the great races. NOt just th ones with the heritage but also the new ones where we have exciting racing.

    Of course keep Monaco, Spa, Monza, Silverstone but then we also need Interlagos, Melbourne, Malaysia and Suzuka. These last 4 aren’t historic but they have great races and are challenging tracks. Melbourne and Interlagos also give the Southern Hemisphere a good taste in a totally northern Hemisphere domination. Get rid of the procession (Hungary).

    With the new tracks though they need to be good in terms of exciting racing. There is no pint bringing in new tracks if they are boring. The best thing for the sport is to have exciting races all year round no matter where they are so despite having races in emerging markets they need to be good to make the cut.

  116. Rich says:

    I never considered the idea that there could be too many Grands Prix that I would miss one, but I suppose you are right. Something to get my head around. 20 races is more than every third Sunday over the year!

  117. Hami_claren says:

    Hi all,
    Well thanks to F12010 the game, I have a renewed respect and admiration for F1 and the drivers. Tracks that I hated to watch(Catalunya, Valencia and Turkey especially) are a blast to drive. Funny tho how I(and i guess so many more) have found overtaking opportunies at these races….i know its jus a game but hey! Another mention is Monaco, my goodness that takes soo much brain involvement to even complete a lap unscathed its amazing.

    Anyway, I think any track/race that can’t draw a sizable seated audience should be dropped its surely not all about tv is it?. As a driver, I would hate to be driving around and seeing empty seats, no one there to appreciate what i’m here doing.

    btw, can someone please stop Speedtv from broadcasting my beloved F1?? Broadcasting a sport such as F1, where secs could mean the difference between 1st and last place, they continue to bombard the public with 1-3 entire MINUTES with a barage of UNRELATED advertising. PLZ Bernie, stop them…..i’ll let you have your medal system if you do ;-)

  118. Steve Selasky says:

    My thought is this perhaps have a 28 race schedule split between West/East Hemisphere.

    Fourteen races in the West and fourteen in the East Hemisphere.

    The championship would be the fought out in 5 races ….. with the top 6 drivers from each series….

    For example, Ferrari can field 4 cars … two in each group…. Customer cars allowed for the first 3 seasons?

    Our have a 24 race season where you only required to participate in 20 races but must count only finishes in the top 18 races…

    All ideas… just wanted to present some different flavours…..

  119. Liam S says:

    The first GP that should be wiped is the European GP. Not because it is Valencia, but simply because it is an extra race under no name.

    There are tracks that should be on the calender, regardless of financial situations. Spa, Monaco, Silverstone & Monza.

    Then there are tracks that have been around for a while &/or are important in terms of cash inflow for sponsors. These would be USA, Canada, Russia, Australia, Japan, Germany (alternate Hock and Nurb) & Brazil.

    The rest, though, could simply be alternated year after year.

    It is hard to say which should and shouldn’t be permanent but alternating seems the best way to go.

    To me, my calender would look like:

    1. Australia
    2. Malaysia
    3. Japan
    4. China/Korea
    5. Canada
    6. USA
    7. Brazil/Argentina
    8. Monaco
    9. Spain (Preferably Jerez)/Portugal
    10. France (this needs to come back)
    11. Great Britain
    12. Germany (Hock/Nurb alternate)
    13. Monza
    14. Spa
    15. Rome/Valencia/London
    16. Russia/Hungary
    17. Turkey/Bahrain
    18. India
    19. Abu Dhabi
    20. Singapore

    I think the calender can be expanded to 22 tracks if they stop the inefficient way of organising the calender.

    1. Ayron says:

      Too slow in getting Europe involved for the season. A big part of the market, they need a race within the first 5 or 6, otherwise you run the risk of losing many of the fans for the majority of the season.

      Brazil is getting too close to winter conditions at 7 and Canada may not be close enough to summer for ideal conditions either. I would move Japan back to the end of the season and bring Turkey/Bahrain up to 3 and have a few European events starting at 5 before heading to North America. Brazil needs to be later in the season as well.

      1. Liam S says:

        Agree with you about Canada; however, there is not much difference in average temperature in Sao paulo throughout the year, and it actually rains less at the time of year that I placed it.

        The other movements you have said though just bring us right back to an inefficient way of organising the calendar.

        I guess it isn’t as easy to create a calendar as we might think. haha

  120. JohnBt says:

    20 is the maximum I can take. Everytime a race weekend arrive Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are kept for F1, be it live timing, updates and whatever F1 news I can get hold on.

    Bernie wants Singapore to sign a 20 year contract, but the government says ‘hold on’. Reason is when Russia and New York gets going the appeal of the night race will fade, how true. Clever thinking.

    Frankly there are too many fine racing circuits in the west with fans filling up the races. Bernie comes to the east simply because of economic growth, but the true racing fans are from the west. Concerns are the eastern circuits will dwindle as we don’t have enough passionate fans.

    20 IS ENOUGH.

  121. Jonno says:

    Snooker used to be very popular on UK television – then we had overkill, with almost weekly tournements and interest waned – rapidly.
    Can we all take 4 or more hours out of every other summer Sunday to watch a GP? I don’t think so. The races are not exciting after the start. Add the lack of overtaking, very reliable cars, fiddled results, constant claims of ‘engineering’ cheating.
    The bubble will burst, and quickly if the advertisers see a drop in tv viewing.

    1. Mat says:

      The problem with that analogy is that snooker is as exciting to watch as grass growing. F1 would only suffer from this overkill if the races become dull like what we have in Hungary and Valencia every year.

      1. Jonno says:

        In case you hadn’t noticed, the majority of potential viewers already find F1 dull and boring. Even people who watch other forms of racing are not prepared to watch a 2 hour procession.
        Bernie and the FIA know this, which is why they are forever looking at making changes to the format of GPs.
        I don’t claim to know how to keep F1 popular on tv, but I do know what will happen if it turns into a twice monthly soap, using the same script each time it’s shown.

  122. Chris C says:

    I have commented on this subject, but I would like to add an extra comment that seems to be missed by the majority of the people commenting.

    A comment coming up time and time again is that more races means more costs. It is true but they seem to forget that more races means more revenue for all parties concerned. TV broadcasters will pay more as they will have more opportunity to get advertisement money. In addition more countries will become interested in broadcasting thus adding to the revenue streams towards CVC and the teams. More broadcasting means also more value to all the team sponsorships as the global players will have the opportunity to pass their marketing messages to a wider audience. More value = more money to the teams. Finally the investment that a team is making in building and running a team is not full flexible to the races it does. There are a lot of costs that are fixed in nature and the more you utilise them the better in increasing the profits of the team.

    So… lets increase the races!

  123. Denny says:

    I could handle 22 races.

    If I were to drop races, would be any track that doesn’t provide at least 2 real passing zones, sorry Monaco. Boring!

  124. Charlie B says:

    I don’t think there should be a limit, but I’m not the one travelling, working and driving. If the drivers and engineering can cope with a larger calendar then no there shouldn’t be a limit. If they do not want more races then they should be listened to.

    Obviously I would want the best 20 tracks that we could have in the calendar, could some tracks go, or a least rotate with other tracks.

    The tracks that I believe we must keep are Spa, Monza, Suzuka, Melbourne Park, Silverstone and Interlagos.

    I also like Sepang, Imola, Old Hockenheim and weirdly, Magny-Cours.

    Most of the tracks we can do without are the newer ones but Singapore and Abu Dhabi seem to be a success.

  125. Martin P says:

    You raised an interesting point about alternate race weekends James, so I questioned my better half.

    It appears that every other week is acceptable. But fitting in parents, in-laws, shopping, lawn mowing, etc. around grand prix only one week apart is pushing it apparently.

    The number of races is less of a concern than the timing.

    And to add to the debates higher up about Spa; I’ve missed three races this year but Spa is the only one I made a point of watching on iPlayer later. I suspect poor attendance and TV figures are due to it’s slot on the calendar more than anything else. James, how much say do they have on the slot? Surely it makes sense to preserve well loved venues by putting them in prime weekends? Valencia would be good on a Bank Holiday! ;o)

  126. Stu says:

    I do think Bernie is running dangerously close to alienating the classic fanbase of F1, the Europeans. I don’t deny that there shouldn’t be races in every continent on the planet (it is, after all, a world championship) but this shouldn’t mean we have a season full of races where local audiences don’t care, and historical European tracks which fans both want to see and want to go to lying empty.

    I do think 20 races is enough in one season, I love F1 as much as the next person but I have other stuff to do in my life – I can’t be as selfish to insist on watching 25 (say) races a year at the expense of anything else.

    Anyway, I’d say the following must feature every year:

    Monaco, Spa, Silverstone, Monza, Suzuka, Montreal and 1 each for Germany (not so bothered since they Hilked up Hockenheim) and France.

    Australia and Brazil are, in my mind, 95% certains.

    Of the newbies, definitely keep Singapore.

    I don’t really care for a US F1 race, it’s always been a bit of a dud wherever it’s been run and since the Indianapolis 05 incident I don’t know whether people will appreciate a return.

    Oh, and find someone else to design circuits other than Herman Tilke… I’m fed up of his name being all over new tracks, some of which are really not as good as classic tracks being left unused every year.

  127. unoc says:

    Firstly Friday…

    Why not make the first session of friday a testing day for 3rd driver/s. 3rd driver being the driver not driving that weekend (unless a main driver is physically unable to race i.e. sick or injured from later crash).

    The teams will have less setup time so it wont be as perfected, more will have to be done by simulator which isn’t perfect so teams ability to adapt will have to be stronger, 3rd drivers actually get the drive and we see new drivers moving through.

    I have watched every race so far, and got bored in a few, bahrain and valencia ring bells for me.

    The problem seems to be, and correctly me if I’m wrong James, that Bernie chooses the curciuts that come and go, not the fans (who watch it) or drivers (who drive it).

    YES, a russian GP sounsd good and with a car market its good for manafactures aswell, BUT the curcuit looks absolutely horrible. It’s flat if you look at pictures of the area and will just be another, straight followed by slow turn etc for a bit then squiggly bit. i.e. same as korea or china.

    WHY CAN”T BE USE SEVERAL CURCUIT DESIGNERS, just as each driver hasa slightly different driving style, designers design tracks slightly differently. We have seen what Tilke does, so why can’t we have a track with a bit of banking slightly, or a figure 8 track or some tricky corners.

    The drivers all seemed to find the Degners rather hard going, so why can’t designers work in a few corners that are designed to be challenging for the drivers? I like those corners as they are much more interesting to watch than teh generic ones.

    Gumps, undulations, banking, different types of kerbing etc.. all make a track interesting and different as the corner isn’t approached the same way as if it was flat. Tilke’s tracks are flat and predictable.

    THe problem with these new tracks is that they are horribly boring BUT they are in the good markets for expansion.(china, abu dhabi etc..). So why not, if were going to expand there, make the curcuit properly.

    What if the new South Korea track (good because of korean manafactures and asian market) looked like suzuka (presuming suzuak didn’t exist). We’d all be looking foward to it each year more than we are now! It would be a great track.

    Unfortunately, these new tracks are dull, and that is due to each of the new tracks being designed by the same guy and each are designed with his methodology and his ideas. Just as watching 24 barrichello’s would be boring as they would all do the exact same thing, running 10 tilke tracks is boring as they all look the same and feature similiar corners which are taken similiarly.

    Seeing a different designer with a different style is the first thing we need before we branch out anymore.

    Oh, and since we have some relly honestly bad tracks, lets get rid of them..
    Bahrain
    Valencia
    Catalunya
    China
    to name a few.. Abu Dhabi the organisers have done a great job and made it look amazing, and its in a great market, UNFORTUNATELY let down by the bad bad bad track.

    Apart from taht, the biggest problem is that we all know, and dread the fact that the tracks will be lost aren’t going to be the ones that are boring, they are going to be the ones that aren’t marketable or don’t bring in enough money or etc..
    Australia, Spa, Silverstone, Monaco, Monza all test drivers in different ways and are hence interesting to watch.

    So why can’t we just make new tracks like this?

  128. Malcolm46 says:

    Valencia, Turkey, China, Bahrain all either poorly attended or boring races, which would allow more space in the calendar.

    To be a WORLD championship Formula 1 must visit Africa as well, the Kyalami circuit in South Africa was great.

  129. zeus_m3 says:

    The more the better. I miss F1 so much during the winter. I don’t really understand why should 20 race be the limit. If you don’t like some of the races simply don’t tune in. There are people who like it.

  130. Rafael says:

    From Bernie’s point of view – and to large degree of F1 fans – 20 races (or even more) is great. But not for this one. I agree with your point James, that too many races can be hard to follow even for the most die hard fanatics – like me. I personally think the 16 – 17 races per year like in the ’90s and early ’00s were enough. Things that go on for way too long just get boring.

    Also, I can’t quite understand how increasing the no. of races can help teams cut costs. Clearly, to balance things out, the FOM will need to cough out more dough to the teams, which is highly unlikely!

    Personally, I admire Bernie for what he’s done for F1: turning it into a global Billion dollar sport. But I sometimes get the feeling that he’s forcing the issue by carrying on with places/venues that have clearly shown increasing disinterest with the sport (i.e. Turkey, Bahrain, Malaysia, China). Although perhaps I can fully understand where’s he’s (Bernie) coming from: there’s a monumental amount of wealth to be found in these newly developed/developing markets.

  131. Darren C says:

    I have read 1/3 of the comments and found the debate of which circuits are best etc lacking in vision of opportunity. As much as fans wish it to be their fiefdom, the reality is the direct funding comes from circuits, sponsors and TV revenues. It seems that fans hope their customs will dictate the potential of the sport.

    Recently the cash flow of Formula 1 saw such a hit that teams and management of the sport were forced to dictate huge change to re-structure or just leave. Fans were not making the boardroom decisions then.

    When running a commercially successful business you cut costs and increase revenue. CVC are providing the opportunity to increase revenue, yet fans (and the media ask the fans to) question the strategy.

    Most large successful commercial sports are able to produce a successful product on every day of the week, F1 can’t due to logistical reasons.

    Drivers, teams and management are comfortable at the moment as they are able to cope effectively with the program, if they weren’t would we see more mechanical failure (NEVER SAFETY!!!).

    We all choose a team, driver, car to win and failing that a spirited performance that meets our expectations of racing.

    What if the spirited performance meant more and in team colours? Why are races only on a Sunday? Club racing on a Sunday I understand, but F1 is still conforming to this? The F1 community is anti-change and conformist.

    I perceive convention and conformity are not Bernie Ecclestone traits, so it must be the teams. I think CVC and Bernie have moved things forward, but we have so much more to look forward too, why restrict our competitive racing pleasure to a few chosen circuits.

    The more races and per se circuits we have, the more chance we’ll find the next Monza, Monaco or Melbourne.

    I look forward to this century of racing and hope more people can tune in. 200 million 20 times a year or 150 million viewers 30 times a year + back up TV/ Internet TV on other days of the week.

  132. Andrew Woodruff says:

    Some of the above comments are so poorly written, it’s quite hard to understand what is actually being suggested/endorsed/criticised.

    I don’t see a problem with the calendar having more than 20 races, provided the facilities and tracks are all world class. The off-season is currently so long, the solution must be to shorten that and keep the frequency of races the same at an average of once every two weeks. Although I love back to back race weekends when they happen at the moment, I think for that to become the norm would be a mistake. Teams and drivers would get fatigued, as would fans from the media saturation.

    If it did come down to a choice of which current events to drop, I’ve always thought that Hungary is an odd place to have had such a permanent fixture on the calendar for so long, with such a mediocre track. I also wouldn’t miss Bahrain at all as it has had the dullest races by far for the last couple of years. However, I think that Bahrain is a case of money talking very loudly, so I can’t see it being dropped yet. It’s a shame the Turkish GP is so poorly attended, as it is a great track as a lot of people have said.

  133. Nuno says:

    I understood James’s doubt. With several more races each year will we keep seeing them all ?

    Personally I will not, but I don´t have any problem with the number of races.

    In the past there were much fewer races and I was used to watch them all “direct”. With more races I became selective. For example, I don´t watch Japan anymore at 7AM Lisbon time (even if I like Suzuka very much). I won´t see Korea and I won´t see any race which will take place early in the morning (Lisbon/London time). With such a large calendar, from the eastern races I’ll just watch the ones which have artificial lighting, like Singapore.

    China at 8AM on a Sunday ? No thanks.

    Malaysia, at 9Am (Lisbom time, the same as London) is +- ok, even if I don´t like at all to seat in front of a Tv screen in the morning.

    Austin will be good (more or less at same hour as Brasil).

  134. Mohammed Al-Momen says:

    I don’t mind a lot of races, it just this year I couldn’t watch any because of the timing difference (I live in the Saudi Arabia and our weekends are on Thursday and friday) as I’m usually at work when the races are on. I wish F1 is able to broadcast the races over the internet and just allow us to view them at a later time or something… somebody needs to pass one this to the Makers of the sport. It really hards to follow races when all they account for is European audience.

  135. Jorge says:

    I believe that 20 races are pushing F1 into the area of sport for the masses and not the pinnacle of thechnology where it should be. Teams need to have time to get back to office, research and develop and 20 races with 4 back to back pairs may be not a very good idea for this purpose.
    On the other hand, and switching now to the viewer’s perspective, I agree that Valencia was a flop in terms of ambience, what is a shame since I imagined the race developing around those fantastic Calatrava buildings (I know Valencia quite well and the streets in this area are more than adequate accomodate a F1 city track). I wonder what was on the mind of the promoters to draw a circuit around old fishmongers’ wharehouses…
    Also I would like that Bernie would favour broadcasting through open channels, even if at a discounted price. In Portugal, the interest in F1 has dropped to an all-time low since the races began to be transmitted only by a subscription sports channel which devotes 80% of its time to soccer…

  136. Ayron says:

    Probably the real issue here is how many weeks can the season truly be run over per year?
    40 weeks would definitely be the maximum you could generally ask from most professional sports and the people who bring it to us.
    The nature of Formula 1 with the truly global venues makes this pretty demanding on those involved with a lot of travel and extremely daunting logistics involved.

    There is also the downtime required from competition to enable practice, training, development and recovery. Basketballers play several times per week, soccer players twice a week and rugby players only once per week.

    Formula 1 teams can handle two races per week in bursts, but can’t sustain that week in, week out. So 40 races is out of the question. 26 would be the maximum if you ran two on, one off for 39 weeks, but again you are likely to find too much fatigue throughout a season.

    A 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off system through the season would suggest a 24 race season would be feasible without an official mid-season break. To have a 3 week break mid-season then 1 or 2 races would have to be dropped leaving us with probably 22 races as the maximum saturation for Formula 1 per year.

    This would allow a 12 week break between seasons and a three week break mid-season for teams and drivers to reset themselves for the second half of the season.

    The first four races should be Asian based, with Europe then taking over till just before the mid-season break, which would be Canada and the US. The remaining European races should then be run with Asia and Brazil finishing up the season.

    The travel and schedule needs to move logically, to ensure the minimum backtracking – ie, we don’t go from Japan to Korea, Brazil and back to Abu Dhabi. Instead it would be Brazil, Japan, Korea, Abu Dhabi…

    Should there be 22 races? Only if the new races are going to add positively to the sport. The tracks should be chosen for the likely quality of the races as well as the money being brought into the sport.

    Make the new tracks be designed and built with genuine overtaking opportunities and exciting corners that require something special from the cars and the drivers. Processional races don’t do much for anyone, drivers or fans and need to be reduced if not eliminated.

  137. Joe Tanto says:

    Keep Fridays, for fans able to attend circuits, a three day event makes the travelling more worthwhile.
    Testing, practice for rookies, etc all good track action, possibly more entertaining than watching the top drivers even.
    I wouldn’t feel so inclined to attend a two day event in a foreign country unless it could be fitted into a holiday.
    Even our home grand prix would be much the poorer without the Glastonbury like feel of three or four days at Silverstone.
    So far as extending the number of races, twenty is enough, I’ve been in front of the telly for F1 since before I was born, and have never missed a race since, but you CAN have too much of a good thing.
    To watch all the F1 broadcast / online sessions, and other cars and bikes stuff, plus keeping up with forums and blogs etc leaves hardly enough time to drive my PS3 games.
    …and it helps a lot if you make sure to marry a wife equally into motorsport !

  138. Darren says:

    Ah the good old track argument rears its head again… lets hope some of the powers that be read these forums as there are some very good points made.

    As a general rule there should be more rotation. look back to the 70s & 80s the tracks changed quite often (even within the same country). The problem is that now a days the facilities have to be so good and the tracks to a certain (way over the top, but thats a different argument…) safety standard. This costs huge amounts of money, something that track owners will not want to spend unless they have a long term contract in place.

    Basically all the new super tracks in the middle / far east have ruined the chance of f1 ever returning to some of our old favorites with their cramped pits (good god all you need room for is the car a few mechanics and a tool box surely… those hideous triple decker caravans can stay in the carpark).

    Say that a return to some old greats is possible:
    Firstly a few that stay:
    The big ones obviously; Spa, Monza, Silverstone, Monaco, Suzuka, Interlagos & Montreal.
    Hungary – as others here have pointed out that although potentially processional races it is different from all the other mid speed type tracks, it has thrown up a few classics over the years

    Australia – Melbournes great, how about a return to Adelaide though, a bit of rotation?

    Germany – You can’t not have a German grandprix, the rotaion system between Hokkenheim and Nurburgring is good.

    Spain – One only, lets throw Jerez back in, again mix them up.

    Ones that go: I wouldnt get rid of all of these of course but some of them should go or possibly have a limit of 3 of them per year and rotate them.

    Malaysia – its been on the calander for 11 years now, the track although not bad is getting a bit shoddy, time for a break.

    Turkey – Great track but no one goes, it surely looses money hand over fist? i wouldnt go to it, you would need binoculars to see the track from some of the stands (comes back to the ott track safety)

    Singapore – Now that the gimmick of night racing has passed I fail to see what it offers, another Monaco wannabe on a boring flat track.

    Abu Dhabi – Same as Singapore, with the added Gimmicky hotel, il give it a chance for another year or two.

    Bahrain – This ones hard, boring track but the people love it, it is well supported.

    Like I said I wouldnt get rid of all of the above but would limit them to one every few years. My other suggestion would be to have a middle east and a far east grand prix every year.

    Comebacks:
    France – the lack of a French grand prix is a disgrace, Magny Cours, Paul Ricard, Dijon (now theres a blast from the past)

    Imola – Although im not a Ferrari fan the atmosphere seems fantastic, although not all good it has quite a history.

    USA – Stop bulding this new track right now, whats the point it will be rubbish (im thinking valencia the 2nd). There must be hundereds of tracks in the US. Pick a good one.

    Austria – although a mere shadow of the old Osterich ring A1 is not bad, it has these peculiar things called hills that seem to have vanished from tracks.

    Kylami – Since Bernie preaches about it having to be a world championship its criminal that there is no race in Africa

    Basically add a bit of variety, mix it up

    Sigh, one can only wish

    p.s. oops this got a bit longer than intended

    1. Liam S says:

      Regarding Australia, and more specifically, Adelaide:

      We have the Clipsal 500 (V8s) here every March which uses most of the old F1 circuit. It seems logical to have the Clipsal one weekend, and following that, the F1 – although that would create a lot of disruption for the ‘city’.

      I’m sad to say that a lot of the people here in Adelaide (especially those in power) lack a lot of common sense and planning skills.
      I for one would love to see Adelaide and Melbourne alternate the grand prix, but unfortunately I doubt the state government would let it happen :(

  139. Aaron James says:

    I would certainly qualify myself as a die hard fan, but the past couple of seasons as I get older and have increasing demands on my time, I find I am either having to not watch qualifying and / or watch race replays/highlights for certain events. The blue ribband events I make a special effort to watch live. I find the ‘new market’ events are the ones I’m watching replays or highlights.

    The Bahrains / Valencias / Singapores, really aren’t must see events for me.

  140. Shane says:

    The only concern I have about an extended calendar is that there may be a bit of a early-season slump. With Basketball and Baseball in the US, the matches don’t really heat up until after the middle of the season. I think a balance needs to be met where the teams are still able to push 100% for each race. Too many races and maybe the teams will mail it in for a race or two which would be disastrous as far as I am concerned.

  141. Jose says:

    I’ve made it a point to go to as many of the classic circuits as possible before they’re taken off the calender. Spa & Monza were incredible, Germany & Silverstone are next.

  142. Max says:

    James,

    This reminds me of a topic I have been thinking about for awhile now, jobs within Formula 1 outside of the engineering. I have tried digging through the internet to find out the various jobs that lay within F1, but have had not much luck. Have or could you write a post on it or point me in a specific direction please.

    1. James Allen says:

      What exactly do you have in mind?

      1. Max says:

        James, I am just now seeing your reply. I am curious about the more marketing, finance, business operations, etc aspects of F1. I understand the prospects of getting into F1 as a driver/engineer, but what kind of opportunities exist for the above mentioned areas? Additionally, what would it take to try and get oneself into said areas?

  143. zerodtkjoe says:

    Thanks for the info

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