Just How Long Will the Formula One Calendar Get?
The calendar may yet grow longer, but teams, drivers, and pundits are pushing back against more races.
Sean Bratches, commercial chief of Formula 1 under Liberty Media, has come out in support of making the Formula 1 season longer than 21 weekends. There has been much talk as of late about additional race venues, with many cities reaching out to Liberty Media to express an interest in hosting their own Grands Prix. With the volume of interested parties, Liberty has to make some decisions regarding not only the number of races they can actually run in a year, but where to host said races. The possibility of additional race weekends has not been met with enthusiasm on the part of drivers, however.
Some of the most prominent opponents of longer seasons include Formula 1 World Champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Both drivers have spoken out against the idea of a 25-race calendar posited by Ross Brawn. Alonso even threatened retirement if the race calendar were to be extended to 25 events, and both he and Vettel cited a concern regarding logistics and overworked teams, were the calendar to be further expanded. Competing driver Lewis Hamilton welcomed the idea of more races, and argued that the teams would be challenged but satisfied with the additional race events.
Formula 1 media outlet WTF1's Dan Thorn argues against the expanded calendar, and instead favors a transition away from "bore-fests" such as Abu Dhabi, Sochi, and Baku while also calling for additional events in North and South America—as well as the re-addition of an African event, as South Africa has not held a Formula 1 Grand Prix since 1993. SkyF1's David Croft doesn't believe that many of the teams can withstand the addition of further Grand Prix events, as the balance of off-season development and home lives with the active race season is already precarious at best. McLaren's Eric Boullier says the team's personnel "are at the limit already."
Liberty Media may instead have to focus on quality over quantity. Sure, more races means more cash flow...but at the expense of the teams, who are at their limits already.