Domenicali targets 24 races in 2023

09/08/2022
NEWS STORY

F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali admits that he is seeking to expand the calendar to 24 races next season.

This year was meant to see the calendar hit 23 races for the first time ever, but the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix as a result of the invasion of Ukraine meant that there will be just 22.

However, with the pandemic in the rear view mirror and the sport winning over new fans by the day, which has led to increased interest from would-be promoters, F1 is looking at a bumper schedule for next year.

The current regulations limit the number of races to 24, and with the return of Qatar next season, together with the addition of Las Vegas, and possibly South Africa, the new calendar, which will be revealed in October looks set to be the sport's busiest ever.

However, it is understood that in the sport's pursuit of net zero emissions the calendar will be organised as such that the races are grouped regionally, thereby ending the practice of zig-zagging back and forth around the globe - even though this could see some events take place at an unfamiliar time of the year.

"We would like to keep the right flow in terms of efficiency around the world," he told investors in a conference call following the release of the financial results for the second quarter.

Asked about new promoters he insisted that the "demand is very, very high", adding, "we cannot say anything more than what we are saying because we are of course finalising all the details.

"For sure we expect to have a couple of races more than this year," he added, "but less than 25, that's for sure."

Despite the expanded calendar, it is anticipated that a number of existing, long-standing events could face the chop, with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps increasingly looking to be the most likely casualty.

Though a favourite among fans and drivers, the majestic track in the Ardennes does not fit with Liberty Media's desire to take F1 into the heart of cities,

Ironically, a number of classic European events are under threat, either from being dropped or forced to alternate with other venues, even though it was to Europe that F1 turned in its 'hour of need' during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, justifying the sport's 200m investment in a permanent facility in Las Vegas which will host the pit and paddock, Liberty president and CEO, Greg Maffei revealed that it is intended that the facility will be used for other activities throughout the year.

"Our goal was to have a facility which is not only magnificent for the race but has the opportunity to have ongoing activations and events at that facility when even when the race is not underway," he said.

"You should be thinking we can well manage this within the capital we have," he added, in response to the claim that the deal will put unnecessary demand on finances. "It's not going to drain us in any way and it's not going to forestall us from doing other actions."

With some still not convinced that Las Vegas is the right move for the sport, particularly in light of negativity surrounding F1's last visit in the early 80s, Domenicali admits that there will need to be a determined effort to convince the sceptics.

"It's important that we are working very hard in driving the engagement and getting the new city excited about Formula 1," he said. "We're going to come back with all the plans that we have in order to make sure that we want to bring F1 to life with emotion, passion.

"It is really important to increase the level of engagement that we expect from Vegas."

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Published: 09/08/2022
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