F1 calendar 'unlikely' to exceed 23 races despite 'tremendous interest'

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Formula 1 calendars are "unlikely" to expand beyond 23 races despite "tremendous interest" from potential host countries, CEO Stefano Domenicali says.

Currently, 2021 is scheduled to be the biggest season in F1 history with 23 Grands Prix planned and others on standby should Covid-19 lead to some cancellations.

However, in the long term, Domenicali's predecessor Chase Carey had hinted the championship could grow to up to 24 races in length.

“You can look at it from two perspectives. If the World Championship is exciting, it can be 24 races. If it is decided early, it will be tough. I think more than 23 races is very unlikely, even if it is practically possible," the Italian told Auto Motor und Sport.

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“There is a tremendous interest in holding a Grand Prix at the moment. In the future, we will have to think carefully about which countries are important for our strategy, what the suitable tracks are in the individual countries and how much entry money we can demand from the organisers.

“This money is not a cost factor, but an investment for the country, the region, the industry around it. If we get everything right, one day fewer races will be possible again.”

When it comes to potential new races, F1 is also facing a challenge with a number of classic tracks showing interest, such as Imola and Turkey, and emerging countries such as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

“We have to find a good balance,” Domenicali said. “What is the right number of races? What are our core markets? Where are there opportunities to rotate races from year to year if there are new tracks?

“Some of the new events last year lived on the fact that they were historic venues and spectacular tracks, but these venues also need to have the financial power to put an event on its feet.”

As for new races that are priorities, the F1 chief revealed...

“I would say it is very important that a championship be run throughout the world,” he told FIA Auto magazine.

“The possibility of a GP in Africa? The discussions are underway, but we are still in the initial stages.

“Germany is an important market for us,” Domenicali added to F1-Insider.com.

“I can reveal that I recently held talks with those responsible at the Nürburgring and Hockenheim to explore possibilities for a comeback.

“And I hope that we will find a solution in the coming months.”

Also potentially back on the table is Miami, which was originally set to be debut in 2019 but has been delayed by strong local opposition.

Last week, Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris backed a memo ahead of a council vote supporting the proposed event on the grounds around Hard Rock Stadium and included measures aimed at alleviating the concerns of residents.

The memo promoted the economic and communal benefits of the race and highlighted the concessions made by F1 on matters such as circuit design, noise and limiting disruption to local schools and neighbourhoods.

No word yet on how that vote went.

Finally, Domenicali addressed the Chinese Grand Prix, which was cancelled last year due to Covid-19 and is also not included on this year's calendar.

“China remains a very important market for us,” he said. “We are only in Shanghai and we must continue with our strategy because it is a big market with just as much potential.

“It’s a shame that in 2020 as well as up to now we couldn’t go there because of Covid, but who knows, if we could find a slot [for it this year], we could do it. We have to be flexible.”