Formula One’s new owner Liberty Media is weighing up the opportunities how it can overhaul the current calendar. With talks underway about more events in America, a possible race in Vietnam, the calendar could see a 25-Grand Prix-long season in the not too distant future.
The 2018 calendar is made up of a record-equaling 21 Grands Prix with many in the paddock believing that this number is already more than enough. Previously, teams have voiced concerns about further extending the calendar, suggesting that a second squad of mechanics would be required to prevent burnout.
Force India’s deputy team principal Robert Fernley thinks that teams have to bring in more members if Liberty Media further increases the number of races.
“I think you have to look at the human logistics in a lot of this. Twenty races, we’re very much on the edge of being able to maintain it with one crew, one travelling crew in particular. So once you start moving in beyond that, occasionally we can go to 21 and then we go back to 19 and we can cope with all of that, but once you get a sustained amount of races that are going well up into the twenties, we’re going to have to bring in revolving crews and there’s a huge cost to that and these are the things we’ve got to look at so there needs to be just a look at how are we going to do it logistically. It’s quite capable from a show point of view but it will change how we, as teams, operate in my opinion.”
Haas team principal Günther Steiner picked up another factor in the overhaul of the calendar structure. The Italy-born highlighted that fans can be saturated by Formula One if there are too many races which can take away from the excitement due to the higher frequence.
“How much do they want to see F1? If F1 is on every weekend, every year, every weekend, are we not on a downward spiral? I think Liberty Media is aware of this, I don’t think there is a big plan in place to go to 25 or 24 races. I think it will always be between 20 and 22 and starting earlier and ending later maybe gives us a little bit more freedom not to have the back-to-back-to-back like we will have in a few weeks. I think they are well aware that there is a saturation factor for the human element and for what the customer actually wants so I don’t think they will exaggerate.”
Formula One has been constantly stretching its calendar out over the past years. It has started its season in March for long years, but the date of the last race was postponed constantly as the number of races has also increased. Williams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams thinks stretching the calendar even more out across the year would rob development time from the the teams and quality free time from the team members.
“Maybe drawing the calendar out, starting earlier and finishing later gives more of a break but it actually then takes away time that we have to build our cars over the winter but also for the guys to spend good quality time at home with their families over the winter. Williams also thinks that teams have to get more money if the Commercial Rights’ Holder goes for more races, extending the current calendar.
“I think, from a purely sporting fan perspective, if it’s from a saturated market, then great if we have more races if we can go to more markets, particularly within America.”
“I think that would crucial for our sport, but if we are to do that then it has to make financial sense and those races that come on the calendar have to come on because they are paying to do so. I don’t see why teams should be expected to go to new races for nothing and then the price fund pot dilutes down even further and it’s just costing the teams more and more and that shouldn’t be the case,’ said Williams.