The worldwide popularity of F1 risks dropping classic European GPs | Formula One

WAt the final spring flyaway meeting at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, F1 is about to enter the European leg. However, the popularity of this sport could endanger some of the classic races that were considered the center of F1.

Following money as usual, F1 is signing more expensive and longer circuit deals. However, the number of slots available in the calendar is limited, so something needs to be given.

Last week, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali traveled to meet the organizers of the proposed South African Grand Prix at the Carami Circuit. There is no official announcement, but it is clear that South Africa will be added to the calendar in 2023. F1 hasn’t held a meeting in Africa since Carami hosted the last GP in 1993, and meetings with drivers are welcome. Including Lewis Hamilton, the sport has expressed a firm belief that it should have a presence in Africa.

On Thursday, F1 said it had signed a new contract for the Australian Grand Prix to be held in Melbourne until 2035. This extends the current contract by 10 years until 2025. This is the second longest deal following the recent deal between F1 and Bahrain. Until 2036, it shows the types of businesses that F1 is currently concluding.

The contract with Saudi Arabia is worth £ 50 million reported per conference for over a decade. Qatar plans to start a 10-year contract next season with a similar amount. At the end of last year, Abu Dhabi renewed his contract until the end of the decade, but this year’s Miami debut was the first of a 10-year contract.

Increasing interest in F1 is one of the welcomes of sports owners, but at a cost. The maximum number of meetings that can be held under a commercial agreement with the team is 25, which has already been shaped to exceed that next year. There are 22 races this season, returning to Las Vegas, Qatar, South Africa and China, all set for next year if Covid’s regulations allow. You have to go at least one race. Obviously, F1 wouldn’t consider withdrawing those big gold long-term deals.

Monaco, France, and now even the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, are vulnerable. Race rotation (a circuit that holds the Grand Prix every other year) will be adopted.

The Belgian Grand Prix, which has been featured in the F1 World Championship for 66 years since it began in 1950, may now have to accept that it cannot meet the financial demands of the sport. There are also concerns about spa facilities and infrastructure. Last year, heavy rains that devastated the race showed that fans were stuck in a muddy field around the circuit.

Heavy rains will cause major problems for teams and spectators at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix. Photo: John Thys / Reuters

Monaco is bullish and remains a permanent feature on the calendar, but even its race cannot consider its position sacred. Since F1 owner Liberty Media expanded sports, especially in North America, Monaco’s location as a glamor meeting to sell sports is no longer important, and discussions with the organizers are far from race incentives. is. Received under Bernie Ecclestone’s administration.

Conversely, the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard is believed to be a potential biennial event, and it is understood that Spa and France will be dropped next year. The fact that they may be a rotation meeting shows a clear ambition for a booming sport.

Only a year ago, some team principals expressed their desire to set the season to 20 races, fearing the burden of personnel, especially with the constant running of doubleheaders and tripleheaders. After Canada, there are 13 races left, all of which are either doubleheaders or tripleheaders.

I was also worried that a huge amount of races are diminishing their influence and value. Senior figures have expressed concern that it will be difficult to sell the Grand Prix as something special when they are thick and fast.

Last year, McLaren CEO Zak Brown claimed a core of 15 races, with another 10 races rotating inside and outside the calendar. Five times a year and five times the following year in 20 race seasons. His plans do not seem hopefully in line with what F1 is aiming for. Domenicali claims that 23 races are the best, but the sign from next year’s plan is that F1 is heading for the 24 or 25 race season.

Race host fees, along with television rights and marketing, are one of the three largest sources of income, and given the volatile global economy, fixed rates are a stable source of income that sports want to accept. Many European venues may maintain their position on the calendar, but only as part of what will be a huge and tough season.

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