Brawn seeing 'upward pressure' from F1 fans to add more races

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Ross Brawn says there is a demand from the sport's fans for F1 to continue to grow its calendar, but Grand Prix racing's managing director admits there's "a limit" to the schedule's expansion.

Next year, Formula 1 teams will undertake a record 23-race season, a grueling schedule compressed between late March and late November that will feature once again a succession of back-to-back and triple-header weekends.

To account for the packed agenda, F1 has tweaked its timetable by reducing the race weekend from four to three days, with media duties and scrutineering taking place on Friday morning ahead of the afternoon's single 60-minute practice session.

However, the growing demand from promoters to join F1's calendar implies another expansion in 2023, a stretch that would delight the fans according to Brawn.

"We are very fortunate in that we have got a lot of interest in promoters and countries having a grand prix," commented the Briton, speaking at the RACER/Epartrade Online Race Industry Week.

"We’ve got some great races coming up: Saudi this year, we had a race in Qatar, they’re looking at what they do with the circuit for the future, next year we’ve got Miami of course.

"There’s a very welcome upward pressure to have more and more races but there is a limit to what we can achieve, what we can have the teams do.

"What we’ve found is we’re not getting any saturation from the fans. From the bulk of the fans we’re getting no message that we’re having too many, they just want more, so we’re trying to find that balance."

However, Brawn highlighted the importance of accommodating the teams next year and alleviating the burden on race weekends by reducing events to three days.

"One of the things we wanted to do was take a bit of load off the teams because with a conventional weekend as we have now, they often arrive on a Monday or a Tuesday to start preparing so if you finish a race you’re into the next one if it is a race on consecutive weekends," he explained.

"We’ve compressed the weekend so that practice is Friday afternoon, scrutineering takes place on a Friday morning.

"The teams that can are willing to cut down their programmes by a day and there will be curfews to stop them working excessive hours in the lead up to a race at the track, so it’s really just try and make the weekend more efficient and compress the weekend a little bit."

Among the potential countries seeking a slot on the calendar in the future, China – whose event in Shanghai is scheduled to return in 2023 – could host a second race within its borders according to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, an unsurprising prospect given Guanyu Zhou's promotion to F1 in 2022 with Alfa Romeo.

"I can tell you we have already received interest from another city to have a grand prix in China," Domenicali told The Race in Qatar.

"Next year we will not be there – not because of us, it’s because of the pandemic.

"That’s why we extended the contract this year straight away for three more years, to make sure there is this understanding for us to be there.

"And I’m sure the effect of Zhou being in the F1 world, the first Chinese driver in Formula 1, will have a huge impact on the awareness."

Earlier this year, Domenicali said that F1 could opt in the future for a rotation on the calendar of certain events to accommodate the growing demand while keeping the overall number of races at a reasonable number.

"I would say that this equation will solve itself by the fact that if we’re able to deliver an incredible product, we may go to a situation where maybe we can go back to a fewer number of races," said the Italian.

"Then maybe the chance of a rotation is possible for certain Grands Prix, keeping a focus on different areas."

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