FOM eyeing expanded calendar


Clearly feeling that F1 should be more about quantity than quality, F1's new commercial boss Sean Bratches has admitted that FOM is looking to expand the calendar beyond 21 races.

Last year saw the sport's toughest schedule as the teams undertook a calendar that included no less than 21 races.

With the loss of Germany, this year has seen the calendar fall back to 20, which, as was the case in 2012, still makes it the second biggest schedule in the sport's 68 year history.

In 2018 we lose Malaysia but see the return of Germany and France, which takes us back to 21, but Bratches admits that FOM is looking to make 21- plus the new norm.

"We want to work in partnership with our teams in terms of determining where we go," he told Reuters, "but our view is that we'd like to go above 21.

"We want to be a little bit more proactive and go on the offensive in terms of the markets where we go," he added.

Bratches has already admitted that part of the plan for the future of the calendar is to regionalise events, though this could be compromised by such factors as the weather.

Furthermore, currently the teams have to agree to anything over 20 races, aware not only of the costs but also the strain such a schedule puts on their employees.

"What we do has to take all that into consideration and we have to work closely with our partners on the team front to find out what the high water mark is and what makes sense for everyone," he said.

"We are very interested in doing what's best for fans," he continued. "Next year there is a weekend where the Wimbledon final and World Cup final take place on the same day. It would be sub-optimal to have the British Grand Prix on that day. It's a tight schedule."

And then there's the August shutdown...

"We're trying to be respectful to everyone in F1, including journalists, to ensure everyone has an appropriate break with their families and some downtime," he said.

FOM is also seeking to limit the number of back-to-back races, unconvinced that the move helps to reduce costs and fearing that the success of one race might compromise that of another.

"We're trying to align these things better by territory: European races, the American races, the Asian races, but it gets difficult in terms of the weather and managing contractual guardrails.

"We are trying to ensure all the participants in this sport have really good businesses and we don't want to align grands prix which will be cannibalistic to one another."

Add in FOM's desire to create Super Bowl style happenings - even though there is only one Super Bowl each year - and it is clear that the majority of the additional races will take place in cities, a move Toto Wolff gave the thumbs up to only last week.

Ignoring the fact that it is precisely these sort of tracks on which Mercedes is struggling at present, the fact is that other than stunning backdrops and a certain amount of kudos, for the most part street tracks do not create great racing.

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Published: 03/06/2017
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