24 is the right number of races, insists Domenicali


Stefano Domenicali believes that the ideal race schedule for the sport is 24 races, as he confirms plans for the rotation of European events.

In fact, this year should have seen 24 rounds of the Formula One World Championship, however first China fell by the wayside (again), while Imola was subsequently cancelled due to the horrendous flooding in the region.

Nonetheless, moving forward, F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali admits that 24 rounds - the maximum under the current Concorde Agreement - should be the norm for future seasons.

"What we want to do next year is 24," he tells the Beyond the Grid podcast, "and I think 24 is the right number. It's the number that is required within the market.

"I would say it's the right balance between that, the complexity of the logistics and of the people that are working," he adds. "I would say this is the number which we should target to be stable for a long time."

However, as the sport seeks out ever more diverse venues, Europe, traditionally the home of the sport, is under increasing pressure, not only in terms of slots on the calendar but race hosting fees.

Consequently, the sport is looking at rotating events.

"It is true that Madrid wants to host a race in the future," he admits, "but no decision has been taken so far. That's another great sign of the state of the health of Formula 1.

"Commercial and technical discussion will be taking place in the next couple of months. For the best of Formula 1, we will take the right decision, but we need to remember that we still have a contract with Barcelona.

"We are really very, very happy in the way that Barcelona is handling the future because of course, this will help them to react, to push for the improvement that is needed at all levels.

"In Europe, I am expecting to see races where the rotational principle could be applied. There are already talks with some of them and this is something that in the next two years we are going to clarify formally.

"Historical races will always be part of the calendar," he insists, "but there is the need for some of them to recognise the changes that they have to make on the infrastructure. Fans are coming more and more with different needs. If you do not give them what they deserve, it's not historical anymore, is it?

"Two years ago, when there was discussion that Belgium is out of the calendar. The answer was Belgium is on the calendar, but they reacted very well. They invested in infrastructure that is related to the best experience that we want to give to the fans."

Seemingly, one of the few venues not under threat is Imola, Domenicali's home town and where he did work experience as a youngster.

Long-time fans of the sport will know that there is no room for sentimentality in F1, however, it seems somewhat ironic that as Europe faces a cull in terms of the number of events it hosts, it was the European events – existing, those brought out of mothballs and new additions – that saved the sport's bacon during the pandemic. Indeed, the very pandemic during which many news fans were attracted to the sport courtesy of Drive to Survive, which barely moved the needle in the US when it launched in 2019.

Indeed, Drive to Survive has never been in the top ten in the US and the grand total of 400,000 people watched the latest series in the US in the first week. In contrast, the latest series of The Crown was watched by 1.1 million people in its first day in the UK alone.

As our esteemed Max Noble points out in reaction to ESPN's figures following the broadcast of the Canadian Grand Prix, 1.76 million viewers in a nation of 332.4 million (2022 figure) means that 0.529% of the population tuned in.

"That's a big success," writes Max. "We could target a 100% increase for next year and leap all the way to 1.05%. Cannot wait for them figures to land and the press releases to roll... According to the figures I can find... the 2021 season finale in the UK managed 7.4 million viewers... with the 2021 census giving a UK population of 59.59 million... that gives us 12.4% of the population viewing... which depending on how you bend the maths, gives a figure over 400% higher."

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Published: 23/06/2023
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