2011 F1 calendar could be longest ever

Twenty races next year, 21 by 2012? The F1 calendar looks set to expand

Twenty races next year, 21 by 2012? The F1 calendar looks set to expand

Bernie Ecclestone has talked in recent weeks about expanding the F1 calendar to 24 races.

The early signs are next year’s F1 schedule could be the longest ever – with the new Indian Grand Prix taking the championship up to 20 races for the first time.

It seems increasingly likely the 19 venues visited this year will all be retained for 2011.

The Turkish and Chinese rounds had been in some doubts, the former seeing very poor crowds in recent years and the latter reaching the end of its original seven-year contract this year.

But Ecclestone dropped hints during the Turkish Grand Prix weekend that the race would be staying on the calendar.

Mercedes, who supply three F1 teams including their own factory outfit, are understood to be keen on keeping a race in China, an important market for them.

Other races whose long-term future had seemed uncertain now look more secure. The owners of the Hockenheimring have said they expect to sell more tickets this year (thank you, Michael Schumacher) and Silverstone has finally nailed down a long-term contract.

With India set to join the calendar next year F1 looks set to visit 20 venues in 2011:

2011 F1 race locations

View F1 race locations 2011 in a larger map

NB. Indian Grand Prix location is approximate

The teams have raised some objections to the amount of long-distance travelling this will involve. Their concerns make a lot of sense when you look at how the calendar is organised.

Why are Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, two races that are reasonably close together, at opposite ends of the calendar? Would it not make sense to run these races on consecutive weekends to save flying all the way there and back?

The same goes for the Malaysian and Singapore rounds. And would it not also make sense to move the Chinese round closer to the Korean and Japanese races?

Despite the team’s concerns the signs all point to the calendar getting larger. The 2012 United States Grand Prix could move the calendar up to 21 races.

(As an aside, if that race is paired with the Canadian round as seems likely, a June race in Texas would be held in punishing heat. The only previous F1 race in Texas – the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, held in July – was one of the hottest races ever.)

On top of that Ecclestone is looking into possible future races in Rome and Russia.

The prospect of a larger calendar is obviously good news for fans of the sport and, in the long term, is probably a benefit for F1 too.

But how far the teams can accommodate more races in distant venues, at a time when they’re trying to bring their costs down, remains to be seen.

Read more: F1 2011 Season

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135 comments on 2011 F1 calendar could be longest ever

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  1. Marc Connell said on 5th June 2010, 20:14

    Because its so long i have to choose between going kart racing or watch the F1. I usely end up recording it. Thank god for sky +

    • Macca said on 6th June 2010, 5:06

      I don’t think the cost is an issue. Yes it is expensive to fly to overseas races but it is nothing compared to what teams spend on development.

    • Robbie said on 6th June 2010, 20:26

      There’s always iPlayer.

  2. JBolton said on 5th June 2010, 20:15

    Yesssss!! More races!

    • Helen said on 28th August 2010, 16:32

      More races the better!! and try putting Turkish back in August! crowds working within school holidays in England might find it easier to go agan.

  3. phoros said on 5th June 2010, 20:20

    And there’s one more thing to consider: reorganising weekends to make it more attractive. I would prefer less GPs with more entertaining rather than flying around the globe making money for FOM. There were some talks in the past. Does anybody know where we are with it?

  4. Leah said on 5th June 2010, 20:26

    The longer the season the better, I’d love 20+ races per season.

    By the way, your picture caption is wrong, it says 20 races next year, 21 in 2011 – next year is 2011!

  5. Scuderia said on 5th June 2010, 20:28

    If Bernnie wants more races the FIA really need to allow more engines and gearboxes per driver per season or else eyeryone will be driving to preserve rather than really race at full throttle.

    • US_Peter said on 6th June 2010, 18:16

      Agreed. If 8 engines now have to last 21 races that’s a big difference over last year’s 17 races. That should at LEAST allow for a ninth engine.

      • Jarred Walmsley said on 7th June 2010, 10:09

        I’ve just worked it out and based on the 8 engines and 17 races each engine would be required to run 2.125 race weekends so based on that figure for 21 races that is 9.9 engines so rounded is 10 engines to keep the same ratio.

  6. Ned Flanders said on 5th June 2010, 20:33

    Looking at that map you could argue a more approriate name for the ‘world championship’ is the Eurasian championship, or the Northern hemisphere, the distribution of races is seriously imbalanced. Most concerningly of all to me is that Africa remains unrepresented. I could well see a South African GP within a few years though- assuming they carry the momentum of the World Cup into the future.

    Out of curiosity I’ve just checked Wikipedia to see how the distribution of WRC and Moto GP events compare to F1. In WRC, there have only been two events per season outside of Europe and Asia in 2009 and 2010. However, at least the Europeans races are spread around the continent a bit more; there are plenty of rallies in Scandinavia and Eastern and Southern Europe.

    Moto GP is no better either. All but 3 races are held in Europe and Asia, and there are no races in South America or South Africa. Worst of all, there are 3 countries which get more than one event- Spain, incredibly, has 4.

    • Søren Kaae said on 5th June 2010, 21:45

      Well, I guess that WRC being present in the scandinavian countries, is that the sport is very popular in Finland and Sweden. Also the lack of big international series going here is caused by the lack of adequate tracks.
      Also, a Grand Prix hosting track is unlikely to be established, as the noise – regulations are extremely strict, and so many environmental idiots fighting against motor racing.

      • Ned Flanders said on 5th June 2010, 22:17

        There were rumours of a Finnish Grand Prix on a Helsinki street circuit in the FOTA series (which of course never materialised). Presumably they were unfounded, but a Finnish GP is something I bet all racing fans would love to see

        • The Dutch Bear said on 6th June 2010, 9:43

          Racing in Helsinki has happened before, in 1995 and 1996 there were DTM/ITC races and in 1997 FIA GT/F3000 races. I think it would be great and a recognition to Finland, they have the most world champions per inhabitant and not to mention their domination in rallying.

      • UneedAFinn2Win said on 5th June 2010, 23:04

        Not true, there’s at least one serious effort going on, Gotlandring http://www.gotlandring.com/index.php

        If there ever will be a Scandinavian GP (fingers crossed!), that’s the place, or it will be the streets of one of our capitols.

        • David A said on 5th June 2010, 23:20

          Who named that place?

        • Søren Kaae said on 6th June 2010, 9:08

          I doubt that Copenhagen, Oslo or Stockholm would have interest in organizing a F1 event, and so far the Gotlandring seem inadequate.

          Also watching STCC from Göteborg, really showed all the horrors of a street race…

    • George said on 5th June 2010, 22:04

      It’s patently obvious why there are no races in Africa, there’s no money or interest. I see no reason why FOM should schedule races there simply to make the map look a little prettier. Russia and North America are the glaring ommisions.

      • Ned Flanders said on 5th June 2010, 22:14

        I think the fact that South Africa is hosting the World Cup finals suggests there is money, and the fact that that they hosted a successful GP for decades suggests there is interest.

        For now, South Africa is surely the only sub Saharan African country capable of hosting a race, but in 10- 15 years time, who knows?

        • MouseNightshirt said on 6th June 2010, 3:16

          I really doubt that in 10-15 years things will have changed much. It needs to be commercially viable and sponsors will not really see the value of a market they have no chance of penetrating.

          South Africa is really the only country capable of it and will be the only country capable of it for many decades to come.

          • wasiF1 said on 6th June 2010, 3:21

            A Finnish Gp will be great but now sure where they will hold that.

        • Matt said on 6th June 2010, 4:49

          I think South Africa will in a worse than it currently is in 10-15 years

          • Macca said on 6th June 2010, 7:33

            I would love to see a GP in Egypt with the pyrimids as a backdrop.

    • Electrolite said on 6th June 2010, 22:17

      Exactly my thoughts! Just scanned the map and saw a big unmarked Africa.

      South Africa would be the obvious place, if any, but a Saharan GP would be immense, may be impossible given the temperatures and conditions? I don’t really know much about that, but an interesting thought none the less.

  7. Aren’t they meant to be cost cutting? But anyway, for the fans the more races the better :)

  8. I wonder how much money could be saved if the travel was organised efficiently. Obviously the weather might play a part in the order of the calender, but if the season was split by grouping nearby races. Surley it’d be cheaper. An less taxing on the teams.

  9. Mark in Florida said on 5th June 2010, 21:43

    Yes they`ll have to giggle the calender a bit.If you want to see a ridiculously long calender for racing look at NASCAR`s schedule.They will certainly need to combine races together in the same geographic areas that only makes logistically.

  10. Dipak T said on 5th June 2010, 21:43

    Keith, what do you think to the rumoura of the Korean Grand Prix being cancelled? And if so, would they just laeve a four week break, or would Bernie organise a one off Grand Prix as a replacement? French at Paul Ricard for example, that should be easy to set up for him.

    As for the original point, I think critical mass would be 20 – 25 Grands Prix per season. Extending to season for more races is a good move IMO, but to cut friday practice like Williams are proposing would mean the end for F1 at tracks like Silverstone, where people actually turn up.

    • If it got cancelled, which I doubt it, surely they couldn’t replace the race with something else. But if they didn’t and it meant someone couldn’t win the title because of it it would be a shame.

      • Newnhamlea1 said on 5th June 2010, 22:14

        They are talking of replacing it with a french grand prix at magny-cours in the event of the grand prix being cancelled because of violence or the circuit not being complete.

        • wasiF1 said on 6th June 2010, 3:18

          I do like the idea of having 20-25 races per season. But i do think that Korea is not canceled but would like to see the French Gp back even if in Magny-Cours.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th June 2010, 9:12

      Whenever a new race comes on the calendar there are always rumours it won’t happen for some reason.

      It was interesting that, when the first rumours of Korea not happening started to emerge, some journalists were saying “oh well, we can’t be bothered going all the way out there anyway.” You have to wonder if that colours their view of whether or not the race is going to happen.

      In the case of Korea I don’t expect they’re any less capable of getting the circuit built in time than any other venue is. Once Bernie Ecclestone puts something on the calendar it usually arrives – even if that means parachuting some people in the make sure the job gets done.

      You have to ask when was the last time a race was on the final calendar but then didn’t happen. I’m not 100% sure when that was but in 1997 the Portuguee round was dropped and replaced with a race at Jerez.

      This is all separate from the international situation between North and South Korea. If that escalates into a full-blown conflict that could force the race to be cancelled or postponed.

  11. Newnhamlea1 said on 5th June 2010, 21:49

    I can see the season being divided into an asian season, an american season and a european season next year. Just on a side note, you seem to forget that the french grand prix also has a contract for the future, but no venue has been selected.

    • theRoswellite said on 7th June 2010, 0:09

      A couple of thoughts about the expansion;

      –obviously great for anyone who takes the time to follow a F1 blog.

      –teams can adjust, possibly using alternate teams or other personnel. If we go to 24 or more races you will need to have some kind of a rotation system or there will be serious burnout. With the always improving sophistication of telecommunications, it should be possible for some of the key personnel to “participate” in the race from headquarters.

      –If some of the away races could be grouped together, even to consecutive weekends; promoters and other commercial interests should be able to put together special travel packages which would attract some significant foreign attendance. (a super-trip being of course…three races over a two week period.)

      –Also, remembering that merchandising or promotion can be everything in any commercial endeavor, the establishment of sub-sets of races which can be called something like…the North American Championship…consisting of say the Canadian, US and Mexican GP’s (future)…or, the Asian Championship with…you fill in all the obvious.

      At first, for we regulars at least, the idea might seem disingenuous or artificial; but for the casual fan ( 75%+???) it could be an easier way to identify with or follow the action. This would of course be easier to promote if there was serious prize money involved.

      I’m sure this all sounds a bit goofy, but if it was tried in one area and found to significantly increase the size of the local fan base then, I would imagine, every ones attitude would rapidly shift.

      Oh, and I don’t think it would detract from the stature of the World Champion, if anything it would enhance it.

  12. slr said on 5th June 2010, 21:49

    I bet it will get to a point where there are so many races that the drivers, will start complaining about there being too many races.

    • Matt said on 6th June 2010, 4:54

      People will start complaining but I think it will be team bosses whining about crew burnout… I think drivers will be happy to go racing :)

  13. Pretty long season. The McLarens seems to have closed the gap to the Red Bulls, Ferrari and Mercedes GP will hopefully improve, too. The Turkish GP was incredible, except for the Red Bull Incident…

  14. Steezy said on 5th June 2010, 22:23

    I agree that they really need to sort the order out in the calendar to make travel more efficient, but I suppose with certain teams they won’t stay out there, they’d keep flying back and forth given half the chance. Unless the “flyaway” races are all back to back with only the odd/rare 2+ week “break” inbetween.

    It’s about creating groupings, I guess. Back to back races for Australia/Singapore/Malaysia. Then a break. Then back to back China/Korea/Japan. Break. India. Break. Middle East/Turkey and so on and so forth. Or something.

  15. Well, if more races mean more money from race organizers 50% of that money goes to the teams that could cover the costs.

    However, there was talk about having to have 2 pitcrews and engineers as so many time away from home would be too big strain on them.
    But in then end teams don’t get a say about where they race (I think), they simply have to show up on the grid at every race.

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