F1 set for 24-race calendar 'in the coming years', CEO Carey confirms

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Formula 1 is set to expand its calendar to 24 races with the opportunity for some rotation "in the coming years", outgoing CEO Chase Carey has revealed.

Next year, F1 has already put out its provisional schedule with a record 23 Grands Prix expected, including the delayed return of the Dutch GP and the inaugural Saudi Arabian GP.

Previously, it had been suggested Liberty Media could go as high as 25 races, but commenting to Channel 4 in Turkey, Carey, who'll be replaced by ex-Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali from January, had indicated F1 had reached its limit.

“I think the capacity for races is obviously limited,” he said. “I don’t know that you’d say there is a magic number that you don’t go past, but we recommend 23 is a full calendar."

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However, in a Zoom call with investors, Carey later revealed that number may increase by one.

“Looking beyond 2021, we continue to feel great about the excitement from locations around the world in hosting F1,” he was quoted by RaceFans.

“Many locations we raced at this year expressed great interest in new races and other countries have stronger than ever interest.

“We expect to move to a 24-race calendar in the next few years, and will probably rotate a few races so we will be able to accommodate a few new partners.

“But they will be limited as long-term partnerships continue to be our priority.”

That final point will please some fans after the success of all five races which stepped up to fill gaps in the revised 2020 calendar.

However, concerns over the number of races have been raised by teams, primarily about the workload on their crews, who will be away from home for much of the year as a result.

One possible solution though has been to incorporate the two-day format that was used at Imola at more events.

“I think we’ll discuss it further. We had a Formula 1 Commission meeting a couple of weeks ago which was after the two-day event," Carey said.

“It is a topic. We will modify next year a little bit the format of our Friday racing to probably make it a little more manageable for the teams.

“We should always be looking at ways ultimately to put on the best event possible but an event that works for everybody.

“Works for fans first and foremost – that’s why we race – but also works for the teams.”

Of course, the benefit from more races is more revenue, and as for how he foresees 2021 commercially, following the heavy financial losses caused by Covid-19 this year, Carey was optimistic.

“We are planning for 2021 events with fans that provide an experience close to normal and expect our agreements to be honoured," he said.

“We will also look to bring the Paddock Club back to our events. We have great plans for the Paddock Club, which were deferred this year, and expect it to be a significant contributor to our long-term growth.

“We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus.

“In fact, many hosts actually want to use our event as a platform to show the world they are moving forward.

“We have successfully weathered the challenges of the virus in 2020.

“We are planning for a world that begins to move forward in 2021, and have been clear with all our partners as it relates to those expectations.

“We have an even more exciting 2022 right behind it, with new cars and regulations to energise competition and action on the track, with a healthier business model to broaden the appeal of the sport.

“That being said, we recognise that we do not have a crystal ball as it relates to the virus, so we will be prepared for the unknown.

“But what we are certain of is that when the world moves past the virus that F1 will be prepared to pick up where we were before the virus interruption."