Later F1 races fear ‘lack of interest’ from fans

Date published: April 4 2020

Silverstone owners tell members not to ask for refunds.

The lack of F1 races at the start of 2020 means that fans may not have the same amount of interest in the later races organisers fear.

Currently the first eight races of 2020 have been postponed, while the Australian and Monaco GPs have been cancelled outright.

The Canadian Grand Prix is the closest race yet to be shelved on June 14, but there is a fear that fans won’t be interested in the races scheduled for later on in the year, due to the lack of events setting the stage for them.

Speaking to The Independent, an organiser said: “One of the things that the later races can benefit from is excitement and awareness in the early part of the season. We rely on people getting excited about it when they see it on TV.

“Australia does a lot of good for us. Once the season starts to get going people start paying attention but if you don’t have the season no one will be paying attention.

“If the season doesn’t kick off until July the interest just won’t be the same. All those races leading up are complementary to our race.”

Ticket sales are also a big money spinner for Formula 1’s owners Liberty Media – they come to an average of £22.8million annually, so it goes without saying that having to reverse those ticket sales heavily impacts upon the funding pot for organisers to host an F1 race.

There is the suggestion therefore that Liberty should lower the hosting fees they charge for an event to make it onto the F1 calendar.

“F1 is attracting lower ticket sales so they should take a lesser fee,” a race organiser said.

“If our revenue is down by from last year, we would like F1 to absorb the amount we are down by. They should just adjust the fee by that amount and if it goes up they can have more.”

Another organiser agreed with the suggestion, describing it as “blindingly obvious”.

“People need to make arrangements to go to a race, ask for days off, book hotels if visiting from another country, etc. I think cancelling this year altogether will be the only way as much as I would regret it,” they said.

To that point, one organiser said that it may be “better off not having the event. Cancel it far in advance so that I don’t spend money on people and set up and then find out that it is cancelled. That’s the worst case scenario.

“An Australia type incident for us would cause bankruptcy because we will have spent millions already. The ticket refunds are what would kill us. We take money from fans and go out and start buying grandstands with it because you have got to build the spectators their seats.

“If the race gets cancelled all of a sudden, the grandstands are sitting there and you have got to give refunds so you are screwed.”

Organiser of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Arif Rahimov, says he has in place “an agreement with F1 that we will only confirm our date in the calendar once the threat of another cancellation is past. Moreover, we would need at least a 10 to 12 week lead time to be able to prepare for the race.”

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