Chase Carey has insisted there is no “magic number” maximum of races for a Formula 1 season – but that 23 represents a “full calendar”.
F1 has drawn up a provisional schedule of 23 races for the 2021 campaign, which is one more than had been originally planned for this year before the global health pandemic wreaked havoc and caused a drastic rejig.
If 23 grands prix take place next season, that would be a record – although only 22 have so far been rostered with one ‘TBC’ date currently blank for the last weekend in April after a first ever Vietnamese race was scrapped.
There remains the potential for the calendar to be increased yet further, with a provision for 25 races having been included in the next edition of the Concorde Agreement which comes into effect next year.
But Carey, who will soon depart his role as F1 CEO to be replaced by Stefano Domenicali, says there are no firm plans regarding a definitive number of races in the future – and that the pandemic remains a major consideration when it comes to scheduling.
“I don’t think there’s a magic number. I think capacity for races is obviously limited,” the 66-year-old Irish-born executive told Channel 4.
“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.
“We felt it was the right thing to have in place next year. We expect to have those 23 events next year and with fans. Really, every one of the promoters on that calendar expects to do the same.
“But we recognise we still have a period of uncertainty in front of us. The world is moving to a place where we have to figure out how to move forward with this virus, not shut down because of it.
“That said, we’ve all still got to navigate through it, so we feel good about it but we know we have a period of uncertainty in front of us.”
While 23 races, let alone 25, would place a huge burden on all personnel involved in F1, one way mentioned of easing that is more two-day weekends such as at Imola this season.
On that idea, Carey added: “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.
“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.”