Formula 1 has been breaking records with the expansion of its racing calendar, and the next season is set to be the most jam-packed in the sport’s history. The 2024 season will feature 24 races, making it the busiest season ever. This comes after an already packed 2023 schedule, with 23 planned events, although one was canceled due to extreme rainfall. The return of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Imola circuit in Italy and the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit highlights the sport’s commitment to its traditional races, while also embracing new venues.
The Formula 1 calendar has been steadily expanding over the years. The 2023 season was initially set to have 23 events, but the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was canceled due to extreme rainfall in the region. Despite this setback, the 2024 season is poised to set a new record with 24 races, including the return of the Chinese Grand Prix and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The inclusion of these races underscores the global appeal of Formula 1 and its commitment to reaching fans all over the world.
Zhou Guanyu, a Chinese driver for Alfa Romeo, expressed his excitement about the return of the Chinese Grand Prix, saying that many people, including himself, are eagerly anticipating the event. The 2024 season will begin in Bahrain on March 2 and conclude in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on December 8. Stefano Domenicali, the chief executive of Formula 1, believes that the calendar strikes the right balance between traditional races and new and existing venues.
Efforts have been made to regionalize the calendar to reduce travel and aid in sustainability. Some events, such as those in Japan, Azerbaijan, and Qatar, have been moved in the schedule to ease travel. However, there are still some awkward trips, such as the three events in the United States, which remain separated. Despite these challenges, some drivers, like Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Lando Norris of McLaren, acknowledge the need to adapt to the expanded schedule, even though they believe it is tougher for team personnel who are away from their families for extended periods.
Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin expressed understanding for the expansion, recognizing the benefits and demand for more races. “I understand the benefits of 24 races, the reasons behind it, there’s a lot of interest in Formula 1, a lot of demand, so it’s good to go to new countries, new races, and there is new revenue,” he said. However, he also noted the stress it places on mechanics, media, and others involved in the sport. To alleviate this stress, teams rotate staff members when possible, and there are winter factory shutdowns and August recesses. Nevertheless, concerns about oversaturation persist, especially with the addition of sprint races held the day before the main race at six Grands Prix this year.
Another challenge Formula 1 faces is balancing the retention of historic venues with the pursuit of new ones. Contracts for events in the Middle East extend into the 2030s, but many older European events have shorter deals or have been discontinued. Stoffel Vandoorne, a reserve driver for Aston Martin and McLaren, emphasized the importance of retaining old-school tracks like Spa in Belgium and Suzuka in Japan while also exploring commercial venues like Miami and Las Vegas. “They’re big places that they’re going to, and I think that’s fine, absolutely fine, but I still think there needs to be a combination of both on the calendar, to retain these races, like Spa [in Belgium], like Suzuka [in Japan], that are the proper old-school tracks,” he said.
The addition of new races, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Miami, and Las Vegas, boosts Formula 1’s revenues and increases prize money for teams. However, under the Concorde Agreement, which binds Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams, the annual limit for Grands Prix is 24, although other venues are still being explored. Formula 1 has been actively seeking a return to Africa, with the Kyalami circuit in South Africa being a potential host, as it last hosted a Grand Prix in 1993.
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