F1 Winter Break
Bernie Ecclestone says 21 F1 races is enough, but Monza on the brink
Italian GP Monza
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Mar 2016   |  8:15 am GMT  |  203 comments

Bernie Ecclestone has said that he feels 21 Grands Prix in a season is probably the limit, as F1 teams are ‘shattered’ but has also hinted that it could fall to 20 next year if the Italian Grand Prix drops from the calendar.

This year’s schedule of 21 races is the longest in the sport’s history, but several promoters are struggling to balance the books as the revenue from tickets sales does not cover the high annual sanctioning fees and other costs. Sources in Germany suggest that the race at Hockenheim this year is likely to lose around €4-5m, while the alternate venue Nurburgring had to pull out last year leaving no German GP.

In contrast the new Mexican Grand Prix last year was a massive success financially and other venues like Singapore make money.

One source who sits on the F1 Commission said that he was aware of five race promoters that are concerned with long term viability.

The F1 calendar featured 16 or 17 races for many years, but since CVC took over the ownership of the sport a major part of their growth strategy has been to increase the revenue from sanctioning fees, pushing Ecclestone to sell to more new venues for high fees. Hosting fees in excess of $700m a year, account for over a third of F1’s revenues, with media rights sales the other major earner as well as global partner sponsorships.

Many fans have said on these pages that an extended calendar of 21 races makes the F1 season hard to follow and that for non-diehards, once they miss a few races, they lose the thread of the season and then watch fewer races. This is a common story. Combined with the increasing movement of the sport’s TV coverage behind a paywall, this has contributed to the decline in audience numbers, that in turn feeds the problem for race promoters of selling tickets.

The wrangling over Monza has gone on for months and despite the two main players the ACI (Automobile Club of Italy) and the Milan Automobile club finding much of the funding, it is a third body the SIAS, which manages the Monza circuit,
that appears to be the stumbling block.

XPB.cc Bernie Ecclestone

“We have got 21 races now. It could go more, but I don’t think it will. It’s enough. Some of the guys at the teams are shattered,” Ecclestone to the Mail on Sunday.

“Monza has got a contract for this year so it is going to go ahead. Next year is the question mark. I don’t think we have to have an Italian Grand Prix. Somebody once told me a funny thing that you couldn’t have Formula 1 without a race in France. But we do.”

Ecclstone made some more positive noises last week in Gazzetta dello Sport, so it is interesting that these pronouncements in the UK media run in the opposite direction.

Ferrari has so far kept relatively quiet about the situation at Monza, but the idea of an F1 calendar not featuring an Italian Grand Prix, the home event of F1’s most celebrated team and its passionate fans the tifosi is as close to unimaginable as anything in this sport. It would be a major own goal for the sport’s owners, CVC, whom Ecclestone describes in the same article as having an $8.5 billion offer to sell under consideration.

They pulled back from a similar mistake when the British Grand Prix was under threat a few years ago, signing a long term deal with the Silverstone circuit, albeit one that continues to challenge the circuits owners the BRDC. The members are to vote shortly on a new partnership within automotive OEM that aimed at securing the circuit’s financial future.

What do you think? Do you struggle to follow a season with over 20 races? What is the ideal number? Leave your comment below

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While I don't doubt your point, James, I am yet to hear from anyone that 21 races is too many to watch (teams of course have a hard time). A race only lasts under two hours (not much more than a game of football) and it is not that hard to catch up on the goings on via sites such as yours (race report and strategy analysis covers pretty much everything) even if the fan has to miss a few.
So no, don't think there's any issue from a viewership perspective as far as the number of races is concerned.


Once again Mr Bernard Charles Ecclestone flings a cat onto the table. The number of races is hardly the biggest problem F1 faces.
The difficulties that many venues experience, and the loss of some classic tracks in the past, are Bernie’s doing — but one cannot blame him: it is his duty as CEO to maximize the income of FOM. The squeeze will become even harder in future, I expect.
The truly ghastly part is that tax payers end up having to feed the insatiable FOM.
Unless... the venue owners get together and play Bernie’s cards back to him. He’ll have to relent if they ALL refuse to pay more than an agreed maximum (20 million, say). Or even if the majority of them can pull together. They could threaten to switch to Formula E, as some have suggested above.
Such a deal would still yield 400 million a year, given 20 races; and with that juicy Sky contract signed, FOM would hardly feel the loss.
There is precedent for such action: in 2004 (IIRC), some major teams threatened to leave the sport and were, shall we say, calmed with over £200 million.
As for Monza, I expect Ferrari will get very tough with Bernie if it’s dropped from the calendar.


Cows need to eat enough grass to produce decent milk.

In F1, teams, drivers, circuits, sponsors and advertisers are all cows. Grass is money. Milk is whatever the fans want, let's say excitement.

Absolutely ALL of the grass comes from the fans (and many non-fans) either directly or indirectly. I buy Shell petrol, Shell sponsors Ferrari. I buy a Mercedes on MB finance, Mercedes runs an F1 team. Etc.

Unless the grass is shared evenly, most of the milk will dry up or turn sour. And nobody buys sour milk.


Yes but that wait between the end of november till march is too much to bare sometimes. Its like for ever for the season to start 😛


It's not just a simple case of it being 21 races though. I suspect many also watch Qualifying and possibly Friday practice as well. That's a total of 63 days worth of coverage. More than what you'd see from a single Football team during the year.

It's fine if you only watch F1, but if you follow other Motorsport series or other sports, I've found in recent years its getting harder to keep up with and too overcrowded with schedule clashes all over the place. It really should be 'less is more' regards to the calendar.

I think 20 is the absolute limit. Ideal number is 18/19. Slightly less races makes each one more important. Too many just get filtered out and forgotten about.


The football team = F1 analogy doesn't work very well. If you followed all the F1 teams for all sessions you would still only see 63 days of action. Most football fans will follow all the matches for their favourite big league team but will likely follow another local team, the national team, and probably any bunch of 22 blokes (or gals) kicking an inflated leather ball around. There is much more football available for casual viewing, at all levels, than there is motor sport.


Exactly right. In this busy day and age the people are spoilt for choice. We want quality over quantity. 21 races is nothing more than corporate greed!


Actually top football team these days can play 50-60 matches a year if they remain involved in European competitions as well as their domestic leagues/cups.


I think 20 should be the limit. Having been to Monza I think it's a really special place with an amazing atmosphere and steeped in history. Unfortunately that doesn't matter to Bernie or CVC.
Obviously F1 can continue without Monza and other historic circuits but for me it's not as special. I remember when Italy and Germany had 2 GP's each per season and now they are struggling to keep 1. Something has to change.


Monza as a whole package is the best race I've been to, it would be the biggest loss to the calendar by some distance. Bernie like Iikening it to France isn't comparable, it never found a settled home like Monza.


the words 'grand rix' are french so the French thought f1 belonged to France. how wrong they were.


Ferrari and Schumacher effect


This is ridiculous,
There are 5 races of the year that should never go because of money,
Silverstone, Spa, Monaco, Nurburbgring/Hockenheim and Monza


Ditch Monaco. Its a procession not a race. It might suit the PR element for F1 but not any fan of overtaking.


Completely agree. The 5 races mentioned should be heavily subsidised to permanently include what are classic circuits. CVC needs to stop focussing on the $$$ before F1 becomes a truly tabloid sport and loses its heart.


...and Suzuka.


...and Canada


But since they castrated Hockenheim it's not the same. If it went now I wouldn't miss it - I do miss the old circuit though. Flat chat into the forest and back. That shouldn't have gone but this new circuit...meh!


So you are only interested in keeping tracks that have good races? The history doesn't matter.


History is exactly that. When they change a circuit so drastically like they did with Hockenheim the history stops with the old circuit and the new layout writes its own. Unfortunately the new circuit is crap so the history of Hockenheim stopped with the old circuit as far as I'm concerned. The new circuit is just like any other modern circuit - devoid of any meaningful character to make it stand out from the crowd.


And Suzuka. And the Hungaroring always gives a good race. And I miss the rhythm of Magny-Cours. Hey ho.


As far as money goes you don't have worry about Monaco - They get a free ride, so the only that will ever do it in is concerns over safety.


So what is the current argument about.


Beats me Philip - By the time I've written half a comment I've usually forgotten the point I was trying to make in the first place 🙂


Ah, but the new halo device will prevent any injury at all so f1 is safer than ever.


What I would suggest for Bernie to consider.
If they selected a core of 10 races to stage every year, Silverstone, Belgium, Monaco, Melbourne, Japan etc. Then to fill the calendar with the remaining races to alternate every second year with circuits that struggle to generate revenue to host a race every year like your Hockenheims.
Also it would open places for new locations to come on board. Initally on a bi-annual schedule, if proving pooular and successful they could apply for promotion to stage every year.
It would take the pressure off circuits that are struggling yet not be dropped and open new oppertunities for new locations to join. Also we wouldn't have the need to cram 21 races into a season just to keep everyone happy. Could be capped at 19-20.


I don't see how holding a race every other year makes it easier to afford. If you're not running a race no one comes and you get no income. Or do the promoters get a paper round for the year off to pay off the debts from the race.


Very good suggestion, Alan. Unfortunately something that would never happen whilst Bernie's still around.


"struggle to generate revenue to host a race every year"

Perhaps Bernie & co could reduce circuit hosting fees.


there should be no core races. if they can afford it, let them out. simple as.
many fans go to the track to watch practice sessions and yet some non paying fans complain that a qualifying session was boring.


Just because you're hosting every second year it doesn't change the economics. Count Von Eccleston is still going to drain you of $700m for the privilege with only ticket sales to recoup it from.

So long as the commercial rights are owned by an investment company whose primary focus is profit there will be no change and we'll continue to see a churn in circuits.


Sorry Alan, that's way too logical for Bernie to ever implement.


Alan - a good positive suggestion, creative thinking. Now, to make it happen.............


Another good and logical idea, and as such it is entirely unsuitable for F1 🙂


Do i struggle with 21 races? absolutely not. in fact i would welcome a few more, but then i am not your average follower. i am retired and therefore have more time at my disposal to organise my life around my enduring passion for F1 and other motorsports.as to whether more races become cumbersome and contribute to losing fans i simply don't believe it. if someone is even only a casual fan and the races are edge of the seat exciting and to a large degree unpredictable with great driver profiles the number of races means zip. they will become ardent followers if the excitement is there.....


21 races is nowhere near enough! I want one every fortnight and none of this pussy four weeks off to get a suntan in August.!


how much money do you contribute to f1 to expect exciting racing?


I tend to agree, but there's another factor that someone pointed out a while back:

Back in the day when there only ten or so races in a season, winning a race was a big, big deal and an accomplishment in itself. but now we see so many races that it's usually nothing special.

So from one perspective the more races the better, but from another perspective maybe F1 needs to get some of it's "rarity" back.


@ random...i'm afraid that those days are long gone and i for one don't miss them. to reduce the number of races would be a backward step IMO. the times already put aside for those races would just be reallocated by the viewer to some other activity. what we really need to see are 21 races that are all 'real races'. then the viewing figures would rise. we all know what has to be done to achieve this but it simply isn't happening. the 2017 changes are yet to be announced but if i was to guess i'd say fatter tyres and a bit more aero but no fuel flow changes, no ground effects. slightly faster same old same old. @james...there must be some whispers down the corridors of what we might see. any chance you give us a sneak preview?


we enjoy fast moving information on our smartphones and tablets today so the more races the better...
we moved away from "back in the day" because we wanted the current situation. there is always research to improve things and hardly any research to return to the "good old days" so the second perspective is hardly looked at.


I think 16 races was a pretty good sweet spot.


What a tragedy if Monza goes. In 1980 the Italian GP was held at Imola, but it was still a race in Italy.

Monza is one of the few glamour events left in Formula 1 as well. Nearby Lake Como, and the Villa D'este, the fabulous water side hotel much favoured by legends such as Andretti, Stewart, Rindt, Piquet, Mansell, Senna et al is properly jet-set. And you can't say that about many modern day venues.

No disrespect, but having races "out East" with their miles of concrete and ugly skyscrapers is literally a world away from the Monza Royal Park with the brooding Alps in the background and the long straights carving their way through the forests.......

I can see a time when the European summer season may well cease to exist........


But CVC doesn't run F1 for the fans who attend races. It runs them for the money the TV companies give them and what the promoter will cough up so the beauty of the setting and the excitement of being there mean nothing to them.


Totally agree, if there is one race that should never be dropped it's Monza


Well said!
Formula 1 can't be without emotions and heritage!


to all those complaining about f1. please put us out of our misery and tell us why you're complaining, explaining how much it costs you a year to watch f1, to give us a full picture on how you're hard done by..


cambridge won the race with f1 displayed on their dash screen.


the strange thing is most of those complaining don't contribute any money towards the sport. they neither go to live races or pay to watch it on tv.
i find it hard to understand their motivation to complain. like beggars refusing an offer of a sandwich and asking for caviar...
strange indeed.


I have full sky subscription. As for those who don't, they contribute through buying sponsors products. You clearly don't understand marketing/advertising.


i will tell you all i want to so if i haven't told you anything, don't tell me that i have.
I wish ecclestone a long long life and i must admit, you made me lough with your phrase about the old man.
are you the old man?


They contribute to the marketing factor of the TV rights. Want to sell ad's for 3 million people in Europe behind paywall or 30 million on Free-to-Air tv on same continent? Easy maths for those paying for advertising. Manufacturers are also concerned about this as less people follow the sport then the less their brand get exposure. So - being interested brings value! Just ask James if visitor numbers counts!

I would love to go to more races (have been 2 times at Spa) but it's very expensive (I recon £1200 - 1500 for a 4 day trip).


f1 belongs to those who pay for it, not those who watch it free of charge so i can refer to f1 as my sport but the no paying fans shouldn't because it's not theirs until they pay for it...just like the car in the showroom is not yours until you pay for it.


Depends what's on the sandwich...


you know it makes sense random 79...


And the whole point of sponsors and advertising is what? It's to get us to buy their products and each time we do, we contribute to the sport.


The broadcast rights are sold to Company A. Company A is prepared to pay because they either expect F1 to attract paying subscribers, or they can sell AD time based on a certain size viewer base. To suggest people watching pay TV are supporting F1 while free-to-air viewers are leeches is a ludicrous argument. F1 gets the same money regardless. Try looking up the meaning of advertising, it's pretty much funded F1 from the start.


real f1 fans attend races, some even enjoy watching practice sessions and don't cause distress to their hosts..


monza is just another circuit, if it goes wouldn't mean a thing to me.
singapour mixico abu dhabi look more special on my tv screen..


Well, that's an opinion.

Sounds like you are CVCs ideal punter.


Aveli is Bernie.. It's the only explanation.


it's not unusual for me to be described as ideal..


It's fairly evident the vast majority on here don't share your views.
Parts of Abu Dhabi just look like big car parks. Monza is a different league.


everyone i know has expressed how wonderful that hotel looks straddling the circuit and how mesmerising the whole circuit looks under lights and you vomit the above?


everyone? did you ask them all?


please use your glasses is you can find them.


Well that kind of thinking explains a lot of your above posts as well then.


The number of races is irrelevant, you either want to follow the sport or you don't. F1 is something of a niche sport that probably has a much higher number of casual followers than most other sports.
The fact that most circuits struggle to break even is simply because the hosting fees are too high. The sport also looks bad when races are held in countries where half of the grandstands are empty.
The pay TV argument is just an excuse, Channel 4's viewing figures were 30% lower than the equivelant BBC's figures, so the FTA argument isn't everything.


it doesn't bother me if monza is not on the calendar, so long as i get to watch a race every other weekend. i don't care where it's help. mexico and singapour run at a profit and other circuits can't?
is it because their ticket prices are too low or their clients can't afford it?
if they can't afford to stage a race, they should stop trying and let others do it..


Your comments smack of ignorance.

Singapore GP is paid for by their extremely wealthy government, as are all the new Asian and gulf state Tilke car park circuits. They are all paid with pocket change from their respective wealthy governments.
Unfortunately the European countries are still facing difficult economic challenges and can't afford to throw millions$$$ at an F1 race.


what does it matter how it's paid for? so long as it's not illegal..
do you dream of empty seats in singapour or do the other tracks not have governments?


Ha, You are Bernie Ecclestone and I claim my £5.


is that all, £5?


Don't take so personally. You obviously don't hold the same sentiment towards the historical tracks as the majority on here.

Yes and hopefully Bernie won't be with us much longer and someone with their brain engaged can take charge.


i wish ecclestone a long long life...


i wish ecclestone a very long life just so that those track remain where they belong, in history..
i do not long to hold any sentiments for old tracks..they are extinct.


But you hold sentiment for old men ????


only i know about me on here so only i can correctly tell you about me. no one else can.


Thanks for your opinion. Just funny that you can't accept other people's opinions.

'i find it so difficult to understand how people complain about a product they're given free of charge' How do you know this?! Did you ASK EVERYONE?

'historical tracks are where they belong, in history..' Again, your opinion. And judging by the amount of posts you've made on the subject, you feel the need to state it to anyone (most) who disagrees with you.


i'll tell you this free of charge like you watch f1; no one has to accept someone else's opinion especially if they have their own...


Football and particularly the EPL is my main passion, ahead of F1. This is why Sky Sports is a non negotiable in my house and it's been in since around the turn of the millennium. I don't like Rupert Murdoch but its got to be done. Sky F1 channel is a nice bonus. Does this meet your contributing standards?


every football fan i have come across has mentioned the team they support ahead of their passion for the game. that makes you an exception, an illegitimate fan.


Oh I do apologise, I didn't realise they were the rules ????.
To quote your good self "I will tell you all I want to".

I presume you are on your way to Bahrain right now so that you can attend every session and contribute to the sport. Clearly you are the only person qualified enough to determine who can say anything about F1.


i guess you've upgraded to my premier class fan, wanting to know my every move..


You are very good at avoiding answering questions ????????

Have you seen Lewis' comments about his current dissatisfaction for the current state of F1? What do you think? Is he qualified to talk about F1?


i paid attention in primary school when we were informed how to indicate and identify questions. i applied those principals of identifying questions and couldn't find one. presumably you can't remember the skills you picked up from primary school as it was so long ago.


They can't turn a profit because of the way the sport is promoted.. Ie: to Rolex wearing old farts. If it was promoted properly, like (and I'm not joking ) WWF, UFC, and Monster Trucks, it would be sold out every weekend everywhere in the world.
The drivers need to be marketed as heroes.
As a complicated sport, the technical info needs to be provided free to enhance the user experience, not as a seperate revenue stream. (I'm talking about $42 for live timing app on top of PPV)


this must be the reason why you run such a successful business, or do you?


are half the seats empty in italy? it must be one of those countries you describe so well. no wonder their struggling to stage a race..


Ideal number of races? I honestly don't know. As fan, I would hope for as many as possible. If pay tv deals are unavoidable as seems to be the case, may be they make great deals - premier league great - such that circuits no longer need to pay colossal amounts of money to host f1 races hence more races on the calendar.


Think Bernie is on the brink himself.
After his chaotic mutterings regarding F1 in general. CVC should sack then sell their money grabbing hold on F1. Hopefully not to Sky or that will be the end of F1 full stop. Well 2019 will be the death rows of the sport once it goes dark hides behind another media madmans satellite station.
As far as I'm concerned Bernie needs to bigexpletive followed by little expletive (use your own profanity) .


Whoever is holding out at the SIAS is a damn hero... they clearly can see that dropping Italy at this time would bring the whole show to an end - they should cut their offer of fees in half not increase it!

If Monza cannot hold out against the money men the whole thing is devoid of any substance or purpose.

Call Bernie and cut the offer in half - let's see the rest of the world back you up on this.

ps. $8.5 billion my absolute arse!... nobody with that much money would be so stupid as to buy a crap product currently without future for such a sum of money...


why would it bring the show to an end?
it'll just be replaced by another track after all there's a long queue...


Well, it wouldn't bring the show to an end straight away but maybe eventually.
The long queue of circuits you claim are there because some governments think an F1 race brings them prestige. Once all 30 races are run in the car parks of totalitarian despots F1 will have no prestige so they will no longer want it. The sponsors will have gone a while ago too.


Where to next? Baghdad Grand Prix? Damascus? Pyongyang?


why not? if they can afford it and want it..


Bernie stole your soul too then.


Guess it depends whether F1 is just cars going round a track or if it appeals in a more sentimental way? Each to their own.


It's not the number of races being more or less that's the problem but the quality of the product. Who cares if a car goes 5 seconds faster if the aero won't allow overtaking and decent racing.
Yes we have done without a french gp and maybe we will do without an Italian gp but the fans want one. That's the other problem. He doesn't care what we want. I'm just fed up now James. Love your site and articles but this formula is now just negative and a real groan fest when he has his ridiculous opinions out there on all the media platforms that want to say something positive about the sport.


2022. Can you see it? 24 races, but none in Western Europe. They're all in Asia, Middle East and Eastern Europe, with a third in Russia for the new season. It is announced that Bernie Eccleston is to marry a cousin of Vladimir Putin. Following the major economic downturn in 2021, Mercedes, Renault and Honda are leaving the sport. 5 teams are currently without an engine. It is agreed that Ferrari and Red Bull are to run 4 cars each on the grid of 14 cars. The third car is reserved for drivers under the age of 16 and the 4th car reserved for retired racers. NIgel Mansell is to drive the 4th Ferrari and Sir Sterling Moss is to drive the specially adapted Red Bull. Lord Dennis says that the team are close to announcing their new team sponsor. The newly formed Williams-Haas team is considering a sabbatical year as they have yet to find an engine. After discussions that continued until the eve of the first race, Sir Jenson Button is retained for another year by McLaren. For the new season the cars are to run with closed wheels because of the drivers safety concerns with open wheel racing. The mandory 5 pit stops per race is to continue as is the so called Eccleston Storm sprinkler system at each race. A new 5 year agreement to show all races on Sky has been agreed and with it, Mr Eccleston says he is not concerned that attendances at races has dwindled. It hasn't done cricket any harm when only a couple of dozen people turn up to county matches has it? He is quoted as saying to the Auto sport on line magazine. There is real excitement being generated about the new Formula A, announced by journalist James Allen where he is hoping to run a series of races in the traditional F1 circuits using cars fron the 1980's and 1990's. There has been overwhelming support for the new formula since it was announced on his website which now has over 4 billion users.


The sad part is that while some of the names are implausible (Sir Stirling will be 91 in 2022, and I don't know if James would be up to running a new series), the basic scenario is... well, almost likely, the way things are going.


F1roborbob - Is Monty Python looking for new members?


doesn't matter where the races are held so long as they're held..


Spare a thought for poor JA having to traips around the world to these God-forsaken outposts for your entertainment and you'd deny him a nice lasagne and glass of Chianti in Italy!


james has had more tasty lasagne and chanti in london than he has had in italy..




Love it! Brilliant.


"It is announced that Bernie Eccleston is to marry a cousin of Vladimir Putin."

That's clearly made up nonsense - Everyone knows that Bernie and Putin himself are going to tie the knot some day.

Don't judge love 🙂


Random, I fear for your safety. Eyes and ears everywhere!


aezy I meant...sorry 😐


No need to worry aveli - I don't think either of them reads this and besides, I support their happiness 😉


It doesn't matter how many GPs there currently are or will be... With unaffordable (mostly) event tickets and unaffordable pay TV packages you could have 100, this isn't the problem. How long will manufacturers and sponsors perservere in F1 with the reduced exposure? Surely this is an unsustainable business model?? And if they do make ends meet it's at the expense of the die hard fans. Which is the problem, which is why people are switching off?


In deed, I feel the promoters' anguish for it doesn't make business sense to operate a business that's incurring losses likewise, they can't over charge the fans otherwise, few fans will afford it.

So it's better to pull out and do another business and in the case of the Italian grand prix it would make sense as the sport doesn't have an Italian driver likewise, Ferrari has been struggling in recent seasons.

As for the question, do I struggle to follow a season with over 20 races, the answer would be no because with the internet and F1 blogs such as JA on F1, the fans are always in the loop on what is going on.


Perhaps the great circuits should switch to Formula E?


The model of formula e has been to run in cities. But it would be interesting to see how sloooooow they go around hockenheim etc.


@ Steve Rogers

Brilliant idea


After the qualifying debacle in Australia, the abandonment of that qualifying system, the reinstatement of it, the last minute rule change regarding radio use that happened on race day in Australia, the shafting of Channel 4 on its debut weekend of F1 coverage, and the inking of the Sky contract, I could not care less what Bernie thinks.

The harm he is now doing more than negates the good he did thirty years ago.

I'd sooner see the ghost of Balestre running F1. At least he wasn't actively trying to kill it.

James, and chance of a report into the deeply held resentment of Bernie by the fans, and his desicions that led to it? It might have been F1 the kick up the backside it so badly needs.


the radio rule is not new at all. they just decided to enforce it more stringently.


After the qualifying debacle in Australia, the abandonment of that qualifying system, the reinstatement of it, the last minute rule change regarding radio use that happened on race day in Australia, the shafting of Channel 4 on its debut weekend of F1 coverage, and the inking of the Sky contract, I could not care less what Bernie thinks.

The harm he is now doing more than negates the good he did thirty years ago.

I'd sooner see the ghost of Balestre running F1. At least he wasn't actively trying to kill it.

James, and chance of a report into the deeply held resentment of Bernie by the fans, and his desicions that led to it? It might have been F1 the kick up the backside it so badly needs.


In the same way that the drivers spoke out about the problems with the running of F1, isn't it time James, for you to get all the journalists together and write an open letter to F1 management trying to put across the huge amount of dissatisfaction from yourselves and the fan base. Or are the commentators too afraid of loosing their press passes to really speak up?


Bernie out


Im not interested in how many races there are, I want a competitive season of close racing on the best and most deserving circuits in the world - that may rule out Bahrain etc and it'd be no loss.
Yes we do have F1 without a race in France, and its a sham.
And F1 with no race at Monza will be a greater sham.
The CVC leaches need to be burnt of the skin of Formula 1 before they drive the last vestiges continuity into the ditch in their craven quest for infinite growth in capital.
One wonders what kind of owner will replace CVC, who has $8.5 Bill (this story is probably just another media bomb as was last year...) in their pocket - can we really expect a benevolent motor enthusiast to step in and immediately lower the hosting fees? Or will it be another fleet of vultures that asset strip and pillage their way to profit?
I feel for the professionals who are forced to tramp round and round for 20 races a year just because the leaches want more blood...
Change please.


Can't understand how Cvc think it's a good business model to charge such high fees that the circuits can't cover the cost through attendance etc. Can you imagine how much live music would suffer if stadiums made a loss with every concert they staged?


Lost interest in F1...
In a time before computer games with race simulations it was easy to say that the F1 drivers are best in the world. But now even my 12 year old daughter is faster than them on a PC game 😉
Few people drive sport cars real life, many do computer ones. But only these few may know how good the F1 drivers really are.
On the other hand nearly each kid played soccer and knows as an adult that the high paid professionals are better in it.
So the solution for F1? Most of the drivers are from families connected to racing. Will they really be the best or are they just lucky with their families?

Racing is expensive and that will always be the difference to a mass sport like soccer. At a mass sport you know that the best ones had to compare to thousands of others and not only a handful.


I think 21 is a limit and 20 races are optimum.
I really like Hockenheim circuit and it would be shame if we lose it.
And F1 without tifosi and Monza, unthinkable.


My ideal season is one without Bernie and preferably run by the drivers.


I think they should go to 40. Reduce the ticket prices by FOM hiring the tracks to get people in, then sub out two teams of mechanics per driver/car. This way you could bring back the old tracks, put on tracks with no audience (Paul Ricard) just for tv & have new tracks. How many nascar races a year are there ? How many premier league matches per year are there ? Give the punters what they want, close racing - less aero so the cars can follow close & more mechanical grip. It's not that hard.
F1 needs to stop feeling like they're so much better than everyone, because to me & I'm sure a lot of others, they just look tricky.


old tracks are not wanted back. research is being carried out for future progress as always.


Everyone wants them back!!


if you don't know the global population of f1 fans, google it and if you don't know how many people read these pages scroll up and you'll find James telling you the figures.
now do you still believe majority share the same view as you?


everyone? did you ask them all?


everyone, did you ask them? even if you did ask them, you didn't ask me and i don't want them back so not everyone wants them back.
just to put the record straight, i'm unique, proud of being me and don't go out of my way to have the same opinion as everyone else. there has never been one like me and there will never ever be one like me so please stop telling me that i don't share the same opinion with everyone else and tell me something that i don't know.


You are unique in some ways we won't mention, there's certainly no denying that.

'everyone, did you ask them?' No, I simply read the comments and it's obvious to assume the general consensus is that MOST FANS want to keep the historical races. Do you read the other comments??

Then there is a very tiny minority, yourself included, that like going to the car park Tilke tracks with no fans.


isn't it strange how a "tiny minority" are able to persuade cvc and ecclestone to abandon those historic tracks who can't afford to host f1 races and build modern tracks more suitable for the job?
i'm satisfied to find myself in the tiny minority who do not fantasise excessively and live in the real world..


@aveli: give a rest to your keyboard.


It's strange that Bernie is attracted by $$$?? Not strange, but he's doing so at the detriment of the sports health.


every business is in business to make a profit.


@ james....i don't think i actually said that? any chance of an ISP check?


The five stars next to your name make it obvious that you are the real slim shady!


Monza on the brink . . ?
Yeah, me too.

‘Funny thing’ is you could have F1 without ANY European races . . .
But who would want to follow it?


They said that once about foreign players in English football...


The comparison is invalid.
Obviously you are unaware that F1 and football have vastly different structures and only partially overlapping demographics.


Yes I know that, but I fear you miss my point. What I was saying is that sometimes in sport what appears to be unthinkable at one point can transpire with no actual negative repercussions. So whilst we may think that F1 without a European season would be terrible, (and I do think it would be horrendous if that happened) the juggernaut may continue unabated.


Or even fewer people would watch.


I think seeing Bernie or listening to his mad rants over a season is unbearable too. Should be put out to pasture or get a vet in to give him a .... ????


Time for I breakaway, I think. There is simply no business case for track owners to host F1.

The simple version could be running in a year. Run it to F3 specs, fill out the grid with F4 cars if necessary.

Want spectacle? Bring back the French GP via the full LeMans circuit. Run a German round on the full ADAC 24hr Nurburgring course. Add Enna Pegusa as an Italian round in addition to Monza.

CVC's business plan requires circuits with heavy government subsidies to host races. The rest should just let F1 go and get on with racing they can afford. F1 has priced itself out of the private market. If CVC is willing to accept that loss of market share, fine. Let another series fill the void.


Enjoy reading everyone's posts... My first time and thought I'd had my 2 cents if someone out there could please hear my prayers. Please keep F1's heritage, its core roots! Especially please bring back high revving, screaming engines! Even utilising the current hybrid engines... Simply remove fuel flow restrictions and let the damn engines scream to 18,000 rpm. I've boycotted MELB F1 since 2014 with countless disappointed friends and colleagues who've attending since the Hybrid era who won't go back. People go to a concert to have the hair on their ear drums twitch, likewise the thrill of feeling the thunder of F1 cars flying past. Not gloried hairdryers! How on earth can it be possible for support categories to dominate F1 cars? Please fix this mess.


It's less the hybrid and more the turbo and fuel efficiency that's dulled the sound.


The thing with Monza is... It's just a terrible track layout, it rarely produces good races.

Imola was far superior in this regard.


What a joke. The only reason Bernie can sell races to these tinpot dictators for these outrageous prices is because the fans at places like Monza helped build F1 to the level that it is at....and this is how you repay those fans??? Shame! Bernie and CVC need to go take a long walk off a short pier.

James, any chance you can clarity something about Monza. I read that the SIAS are looking at configuration changes to Monza so that it is more friendly/attractive to other forms of racing - specifically MotoGP and WSBK. From what I remember, the major changes were a bypass inside Curva Grande, and the removal of some of the pedestrian bridges over the track (safety for the bikes). Now, I don't know if it's rumour or fact, but I've read that THIS is the main reason why Bernie is threatening to abandon Monza - that he doesn't approve of the changes to the circuit or something (even though the existing GP circuit would remain in tact, and useable for GPs). Do you have any insight into this rumor? Or is Bernie's issue with Monza 100% a money thing?


Not heard that. I thought it was a change of manager at the track that bothered him


That little comment right there James sums up the major problem with F1. Ego.


21 races is a lot. just because its only 2-3 hrs viewing for someone sat at home is not the problem. All the team personnel having to travel and set up cars takes its toll with them having no outside life.. As we can see Bernie and the CVC guys just sit at home most of the time checking their bank balances. Not very hard for them to suggest 20 or 30 races a year.


Boo hoo! I'd give my left one to be paid to travel the world working inside F1.
everyone's work takes them away from outside life and away from your family ... Need. A better argument than that.

Racing driver 1

It's funny how Bernie thinks F1 is ok. He says there is an F1 without a French Grand Prix, but it was around the time that they lost the French Grand Prix that F1 started to slip down the toilet.....


21 races are too much. It's impossible to watch all of these races due to work, family and other things that require a lot of time. If the calendar has fewer races it's easier to arrange work days and sort out personal commitments without having to miss 5 or 6 races. No wonder F1 viewers keep declining year after year.


Wouldn't be a problem if they had the races available on-demand. Avoid the result all day and watch at your leisure later on.


what tosh! it's not the number of races. Its the prohibitive cost at circuits and sky TV packages that's killing F1. Also the loss of historical circuits does not help. perhaps circuits could alternate every two years, so that old and new tracks can host the races,especially if cvc etc can control their GREED and think of the fans!!


Since the drivers got together to write that letter of protest Ecclestone has:

* Sent them a mocking reply.
* Announced that F1 is going behind a paywall in the UK.
* Reintroduced elimination qualifying for Bahrain.
* Threatened Monza.

He's goading them. They have to escalate their protest now or else he will have broken them. That's how power works.


What does it matter how many 'Races' there are if there are only maybe 3 or 4 cars capable of winning? They need to change the description from 'Races' to 'Events' because the current 'Events' aren't 'Races' by any stretch of the imagination.


I agree. But F1 has pretty much always been like this. Seasons of genuine on track racing are the exception rather than the norm.


True enough - what's really amazing is the ability to create a TV empire out of 2 cars racing with DRS, and the rest of the field doing not much else other than carrying advertising around the track so far back in trail it's like a different series.


It is not the number of locations but the quality of the locations, which includes the fan base, the challenge and optics of the course and the support the organizers give the event. There are at least 3 or 4 races on the calendar that could disappear and I would not miss them.


21 races are really too many. The "Grand Prize" should be a little more exclusive. I do like to follow F1, but find I organise my diary around race weekend - Much to the annoyance of my partner, when I say that we can't go out, visit friends, etc because it's a Grand Prix weekend. It's a good point that once you miss a few races, you can lose the thread of the season and then watch fewer races. 15/16 races is really sufficient. If you want a more regular motorsport fix, there are plenty of events, all over the country, you can attend.


I go for quality, over quantity. Let's have fewer races, but at the best circuits.


I'll tell you what Bernie.
Give us 26 races a year and I might consider paying sky...............


More races can be adjusted into the calendar with the help of work distribution, if the consumer demand exists. However, I wonder who wants F1 as a whole the way it is right now? (In context of, "Knowledge about the parts and wisdom about the whole") No big picture and all.
Slow death of Monza like other original diverse circuits has been a long time coming. What a loss. Standardisation wins again.


Obviously, that´s one of the points the GPDA wanted to touch with their open letter, to keep a core of F1 s most legendary circuits. Of course, as always since the 1960´s Ecclestone says yes and means no (and vice versa). But, in my decent opinion, Monza shouldn´t put up with something from Ecclestone. A historical battlefield like Monza was there before and will still be there when the car dealer and his CVC will be long gone. If they dig their heels in, OK, so maybe Monza could seek for alternatives, like the Indy Cars could be one of them? So, if no F1 is possible under current circumstances, why no Indycar??


I think personally that 21 races is really too many we would be better off going back to 17-18 races per season ,I have been watching f1 for 35 years, and there was just as much excitement over 17 the season was closer and easier to follow. I tend to find myself loosing interest after about 18 races I still watch but sometimes wish it was over, so heaven knows what the teams must think!
less races would mean less cost to the teams, but it could also allow testing during the season to allow everyone to catch up and potentially better racing. However saying that I hope Ferrari are challenging this season so we may need 21 races!!


@paul keen...after such a long time following F1 it certainly isn't a casual interest that you have? what i don't understand is that you're in favor of 18 or so but not in favor of 21? that doesn't seem to make sense...another 3 races/6hrs viewing breaks your level of interest!!! just curious......


I read Bernie's letter to the drivers with incredulity.

So many of the problems are down to Bernie's drive to extract as much money from F1 as possible when he made that dodgy deal with Max which enabled him to sell the rights on to CVC and become a billionaire overnight. Unsurprisingly, CVC are looking for a big return on their massive investment so upwards of $1bn a year is taken out of the sport with nothing contributed in return.
Bernie knows very well how important the classic races are to the future of F1 but one by one we have seen him threaten races like Silverstone and Spa after he orchestrated an end to any F1 race in France and a temporary break in having a race in Germany. Now Monza is the latest race we may lose. What is he going to replace this classic venue with ? Another boring race on yet another Tylke clone circuit played out in front of empty grandstands ???? How can that possibly compare with Monza ?

And exactly who is it that is responsible for the end of Free-To-Air broadcasting in the UK, one of the single biggest TV audiences in F1 ?

As for everything else, It's time that some proper marketing people were allowed to properly research what genuine fans want to see from F1 and implement it.

The amateurish antics that led to the qualifying in Australia make F1 look ridiculous and despite all the talk, they are repeating the farce in Bahrain !

A popular Worldwide sport should never be run like this. It's like FIFA without the bribery.


like it or not, qualifying set up race and boy did that qualifying session in melbourne set up a fantastic race. incidentally do you pay any money towards f1?


Ahem. Without the what?


Well thank god I'm going to Monza this year! Yet more raping of the sports history and traditions in the name of more money for cvc and Bernie. I agree though 21 is a bit ridiculous, 16 is fine, makes each race more important and would shorten the season a bit.


As an F1 fan the more races the better ! Give me 30 races per season 🙂

But If they are struggling with venues how about 2 races a weekend? take the Australian V8 supercar championship, it's really fun to watch I recommend it.
They do 2 sprint races on the Saturday and a longer race on the Sunday.


I can think of at least a dozen other races I'd rather see replaced than Italy/Monza. I won't name the losers, but just for fun I have come up with a list of 7 places that would likely host good Grand Prixs that would improve the calendar from the fans' perspective (given a decent circuit of course), with 4 previous hosts:
1. France
2. South Africa
3. Argentina
4. Netherlands
And three new places that might provide the kind of enthusiasm we saw in Mexico:
5. Mugello Circuit, Italy
6. Colombia
7. Chile


Being an Australian F1 follower, I have no problem with twenty races. Been getting up at all hours for 35 years and I still love it.


Formula One doesn't deserve Monza.


If I were running Ferrari I would use my political power to force the race to stay in Italy. Ferrari is F1... so without them it just isn't the same whether you are a fan or not you can not argue that point. So that being said, no race in Italy... No Ferrari! No Ferrari and the price of CVC's share will TANK! Time to use their political clout as a means of protecting the heritage of the sport.

If 21 races is too much get rid of Abu Dhabi, China, India, South Korea etc... these events don't have any fans attending the races anyway.


My issue with F1 is Not the number of races be it 15 or 21 as I loved it dearly in 2005. It is clearly the quality of the racing and the events themselves. With that said once you start saturating any sport it does start to lose its Exclusivity doesn't it.

From a practical viewpoint it is absolutely killing the teams with many already considering appointing more fly away race teams as current ones struggle to see family throughout the year and that in itself leads to less "quality" and more mistakes, as well as greater costs.

Its true that no one imagined France would be lost to GP's but then how many more historic and respected races must be lost to ones that very few people care to see. Also why charge Monza, Silverstone etc such ridiculous hosting fees yet Monaco pays a pitance. I couldnt care less if it disappeared tomorrow.


I went to Monza last year incase it got axed tgis year.
I sat at the first chicane, surprised how many empty seats there were. Dont blame people not going though for £220 ticket


James its not the number of races that is hard to follow its the cost of being able to watch them. We the fans have to pay sky tv a lot of money to watch dare I say it an 85 year old tinkering with a sport that 10 years ago was perfect.


Once again Mr Bernard Charles Ecclestone flings a cat onto the table. The number of races is hardly the biggest problem F1 faces.
The difficulties that many venues experience, and the loss of some traditional venues in the past, are Bernie’s doing — but one cannot blame him: it is his duty as CEO to maximize the income of FOM. The squeeze will become even harder in future, I expect.
The truly ghastly part is that tax payers end up having to feed the insatiable FOM.
Unless... the venue owners get together and play Bernie’s cards back to him. He’ll have to relent if they ALL refuse to pay more than an agreed maximum (20 million, say). Or even if the majority of them can pull together. They could threaten to switch to Formula E, as some have suggested above.
Such a deal would still yield 400 million a year, given 20 races; and with that juicy Sky contract signed, FOM would hardly feel the loss.
There is precedent for such action: in 2004 (IIRC), some major teams threatened to leave the sport and were, shall we say, calmed with over £200 million.
As for Monza, I expect Ferrari will get very tough with Bernie if it’s dropped from the calendar.


Once again Mr Bernard Charles Ecclestone flings a cat onto the table. The number of races is hardly the biggest problem F1 faces.
The difficulties that many venues experience, and the loss of some classic tracks in the past, are Bernie’s doing — but one cannot blame him: it is his duty as CEO to maximize the income of FOM. The squeeze will become even harder in future, I expect.
The truly ghastly part is that tax payers end up having to feed the insatiable FOM.


Is it time for Bernie to move on? Perhaps we could have a competition to see how this might be achieved. If we could somehow make sure he doesn't attend any more meetings.........I wonder, could they fit revolving doors to all team motorhomes, CVC headquarters and FIA buildings? If you recall he doesn't seemed to have mastered the art of when to leave a revolving door and so will either continue to go round ad infinitum or stay on board until he emerges back on the pavement. Not really sure this would work though. Any ideas?


i don't understand why so many fans are dreading the end of monza. so many tracks have been and left f1 just like drivers and teams. none of them are bigger than the sport. if they say they can't afford it then so be it. bring on new circuits. i am yet to witness a circuit in which the cars refuse to run.


You know, a couple of weeks ago, I'd have argued passionately for the retention of historic races. Without Monza, Monaco, Spa, Silverstone, and, yes, France, F1 is diminished. The season is, perhaps, becoming too crowded, but any shortening shouldn't come at the expense of these.

Now, though... I'm not going to see any Grands Prix after 2018. Why should I care? Not my problem any more. If there's no Monza next season and the one after, it'll just make the withdrawal easier. Knock yourself out, Bernie.


i find it so difficult to understand how people complain about a product they're given free of charge. they pay nothing towards f1 yet complain about the slightest miss hap. so many fans pay to watch practice sessions, who never complain about practice sessions being boring yet those watching it on their TVs for free complain about qualifying sessions and races. i'm baffled by it all. which is more exciting, qualifying or practice?
if you don't pay for the product, you don't have to use it but please don't complain..


What happens when someone buys a product from a sponsor in F1??


the sun rises..


it doesn't rain that decade if that someone is you..
those who don't contribute money to the sport should be quiet, shhhhhh!


Again, you avoid the question because it rubbishes your hollow argument.


The historical tracks must be kept, we have lost far too many great circuits off the calendar, Imola, Estroil, Kyalami etc., simply because old 'Bernie' wants a bit extra in his pay packet. There must be some sort of system where F1 sticks too its roots. I don't really watch many of the 'Herman Tilke Track' races, which largely provide limited track action. The races where Classic racing was provided yearly are long gone and I think it won't be much longer until the fans vote with their feet and find someone else to do on their Sunday's. Sad times indeed.


historical tracks are where they belong, in history..


Could F1 exist without France, Italy, Germany, and England? In a formal sense, yes. But remember this: CART lost the battle with the IRL because the latter had the crown jewel, the Indy 500. It's one of those races that you don't have explain the significance of, and staying away from it surrenders market share to any rival willing and able to fill the void.

Right now, no series is directly poised to do so. I would gladly welcome Indycar into that role, if only for a couple of rounds each year. After all, the NFL has managed to build enough of a following in England that it holds three games at Wembly now. Indycar is certainly easier for the average racing fan than American football is for soccer fans.

Note that the Indy season is short anyway. Adding Monza, Magny-Cours and Hockenheim could work.


Work 12hrs a day.. 6days a week.. Have a bit of rest at easter then back to the grind.. See whos "shattered" then


The more races the better in my opinion. Thanks to my DVR and SlingBox, I haven't missed a race since 2003 but even if I did, it's not hard to follow what happened and pickup the action at the next one. As far as the teams go, I'm not sure how it works right now but they should get compensated for additional races. As for the workload, it's a business. What I don't like is the addition of all these soulless new venues in places with no F1 support or fan base and the loss of our classic tracks. CVC is bleeding all the money out of the sport by sacrificing its long term future.


What i have come to realise is that once the race has started it could be anywhere in the world if the action is riveting. yes, there are some unique facets to some of the tracks but overall when the racing comes down to wheel to wheel the locality fades proportionally. therefore i grade my experiences according to that scenario.


The tracks shouldn't have to pay hosting fees (never mind the enormous ones they currently do) the promoters & track owners should share the money from the ticket sales. But then the promoter might actually have to promote F1!!!


I don't think it's an issue of the number of the races on the calendar or even the fact that F1 is migrating to pay TV. It's just that F1 isn't that exciting to watch anymore. I still get chills when I think back to the first time I heard an F1 car going around the track. It was just the V8 post exhaust blown diffuser but I still get goosebumps as I remember the thundering sound as they were braking for turn 1 here in Austin and the fuel backfiring in the exhaust pipe, and the stench of I burned race gas in the air when they laid down hot laps in Q3 and the shear sensory overload of 20cars roaring through turn 15 all at once during the start to the point that it feels like your brain is vibrating inside your skull.

I don't care if tickets were twice as expensive, I would pay it in a heartbeat to hear and experience that again, and I am sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. I am a tech nerd so I'll keep showing up but there hust isn't that fire and excitement anymore.


In a way I would love to see all the great classics drop off the F1 calendar. That wouls pave the way for a somewhat-breakaway series with proper/noisy/manly open cockpit cars running exclusively on these classic race tracks. Monza, Imola, Spa, Canada, Suzuka, Laguna Seca. Stream it over the internet for cheap/free. I'll be a fan...


When will the press find the courage to state that the emperor is wearing no clothes? Eccelestone is a huge drag on F1 and his policies are dragging it down. Yet no F1 journalist will write a clear and full review of how the man needs to go. Very disappointing.

Cue the Bernie supporters?


As an F1 fan since Phil Hill won in the shark nosed Ferrari, I will add that the decline in the sport is not the result of overindulgence to the number of races; it is the submission to the stakeholders demands for profit. Driven to provide higher returns, the sport has migrated from the, IMO, essential fan base. Temporary street based circuits will never replace the challenges associated with an open race track that provides great viewing in person, but allows for memorable races. Can you imagine a finish like the one for second place in France in 1979 between between Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve and Renault driver René Arnoux, on a street course? You will never see that on a street circuit. As my grandfather used to say, 'Follow the money'. And as long as you can have countries that line up to pay what Bernie and company ask, you will have drop off in support among the core constituency. Alas, the days when F1 produced cutting edge technology have been mitigated to the point where one might expect to find the France family of NASCAR in alignment with the F1 stakeholders. Boring race tracks, tightly controlled engineering standards, and budgets that are larger than a third world economy do not have relevance in my world. I miss the good old days of F1. And I might add that I find I migrate more to world makes sports cars these days, and am less inclined to watch an F1 street race from Singapore. Those street races are more and more a mirror to Formula E, which actually has some relevance. So enjoy the champagne Bernie. But the bubbles may just be the residue of your departing fan base. Oh, and don't count on the new audience in Azerbaijan to replace the one you lost in California. Once the glow wears from the new circuits, you will be scrambling to replace your true audience; just ask NASCAR, and CART/Indy. Imagine if we were to have the 24 Hours of Mymensingh. It's just not the same.


Things must be tough!
Bernie looks like he has had to cut back on his wig!

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