Teams unsure of 22 race schedule for 2020


On Thursday, the Catalan government approved a plan to continue hosting the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in 2020 and beyond.

As it stands, the Spanish Grand Prix is one of several races in doubt however, should organisers agree a deal with Formula One Management this could see the 2020 schedule increase to 22 rounds, the most events in a season in the history of the sport.

Though only one race has been officially confirmed by FOM - the season opening Australian Grand Prix - the sport's owners have made no secret of their desire to expand the calendar. However, from the teams' point of view there are a number of factors to be considered, and not for the first time the teams don't entirely agree.

"We are supportive on a 22nd race if that means some more revenues," said Mattia Binotto, "but we need to certainly be careful on the costs, the extra costs.

"If you look as well at 2021 at the moment we are discussing for 24 races but no extra engines, no extra units, so I think it's only a path to 2021," he continued, "so increasing the number of units for next year would be simply wrong, because it would mean, yes, more revenues, but then more costs, which would make no sense overall and so it should be on the power unit manufacturer to try to do an effort which is in the direction of 2021 to afford an extra race with the components we've got."

"I see it more from an organizational point of view," said Alfa Romeo veteran Beat Zehnder. "I'm not too concerned about PU elements; I'm more concerned about team members.

"As a small team we're at the limit with 21 races already. Any additional race will make it more difficult and we have to think about increasing the number of race team members and establishing a rotating system in a way."

"The commercial rights holder has come to us to say, you know, that 22 races is a possibility for next year and would we support it," added Christian Horner. "I think in principle, yes, is the answer, but it has to be combined with what other activities are going on in terms of: do we need to do as much in-season testing as we currently do; do we need to do as much pre-season testing?

"If we are to introduce a 22nd race the majority of teams are taking penalties and using four engines anyway, so one would assume that it would make sense to increase the allocation on power units and components and perhaps if we look at the ratio and say 'well, OK, rather than using engines for going testing and if we reduce the in-season testing and pre-season testing slightly, if that frees up an engine that the majority of teams they're going to use anyway. From the next race there is going to be a whole raft of penalties coming through, and we're only just halfway through the season, so introducing another race on top of that and expecting teams to get through on three engines and three sets of components is a bit of a tall ask."

"In principle we support the direction of going for 22 races next year," said Andreas Seidl. "There's a discussion ongoing at the moment about what that means actually in terms of the number of components to be used and also the costs for a team like us, so that's still ongoing.

"If you look at the bigger picture for us, it's simply important now also to be a bit careful not to increase the number of races even further - for two reasons really. First of all, I think we really need to look after our people and make sure that we don't ask for too much there, because I think if we go now for the next step of even more races we definitely have to change some things inside our organisations, for all teams.

"The second point of course we understand the commercial point of view but I think it's also important that we keep this exclusivity for each of the events, which doesn't necessarily get better by adding more and more races."

"There is a lot more conversation to be had, particularly around the components," said Claire Williams. "From a financial perspective, we need to just make sure that it's going to work, that it cover all our costs, and we are at that point now where we'd say yes it would.

"But I think most importantly from our side it's consideration of our team personnel. I think pretty much they are pushed to the limit at the moment with what we are asking them to do with 21 races and the tests on top of that and then the work they have to do in the factory in between.

"In our team we don't necessarily have the luxury of rotating staff in and out, we are at capacity on head count. So it would be around looking into that and working out whether we need to bring in more people to support it.

"I think from our perspective again, I wouldn't want to see a triple-header on the calendar. I think we have been assured that there wouldn't be one. I think that broke a lot of people last year, but also from a logistical perspective that is just a nightmare; it's a disaster. Going to Austria I think it was when we all took makeshift motorhomes, it doesn't look great for the race but it's just not good for anyone's cost base either."

Spanish media is claiming that if retained, the Barcelona race would take place in mid-May (15-17) between the Dutch and Monaco rounds.

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Published: 03/08/2019
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