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Is The F1 Calendar Too Long?


There has been a bit of a debate between the F1, the FIA, the Constructors and many more parties about the length of the Formula 1 calendar. Some say it is too long, whereas some say it could be even longer. Is that the case? Has it always been this long? What about future years?

Let’s start with this year’s calendar. Originally there were 20 races, but due to a lack of finances, the German Grand Prix was dropped form the calendar after the season had started, reducing the 2015 schedule to 19 races. The gap that the German race left did not really impact on the season, as it just meant there was three-week gap between the British and Hungarian GPs this year.

If we look forward to next year, there is a scheduled 21 races to be held between March and November. However, according to the sporting regulations for the 2016 season, the amount of races would be limited to just 20. It is the same original calendar as this year, bar a few changes. The one addition is the return of the European Grand Prix, which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Russian Grand Prix is brought forward with the Malaysia being put back towards the end of the year.

Whether the season is too long is one thing, but for next year, will the travel be an issue?

For 2016, the travel plans have been set out with relative ease. There are the typical flyaway races at the start and end of the year, with the European season held in the middle. In 2016, there will only be four back-to-back race schedules. Hungary to Germany in July is no bother, as is Belgium to Italy after the summer break. Malaysia to Japan is no trek towards the latter end of the season, but the trip between Canada and Azerbaijan will be a difficult one for the teams to get right. The race in Montreal will finish in the late afternoon of Sunday, and they will need to be set up in Azerbaijan by Thursday evening. A tough task.


Going back in time to the very start of the Formula World Championship, there were only 7 races in the 1950 season. Those races were contested between May and September, a much shorter time frame than this year. 1958 was the first year to have a double-figure of number of races, with the 11-event season won by Mike Hawthorn.

It was not until 1968 that the number of races increased again (with 1959-1967 fluctuating between 8 and 11). 12 races were held in another British-won Championship, with Graham Hill winning the 1968 title. From 1973 onwards, there has been a minimum of 14 races in every season. That year, there were 15, with the first being held in Argentina in January, running all the way through to October.

The season with the longest time frame was the 1977 season, which ran from Argentina on the 9th January, before finishing at Fuji, Japan, on the 23rd October. There were 17 races that season. From the 1980s, the amount of races stayed relatively similar for a long time. Between 1984 and 2003 (20 seasons), there were either 16 or 17 races.

Since 2004, the number has been at least 17, with the last six seasons (2010-2015) all having a minimum of 19 races. 2012 saw the highest number of races held in an F1 Championship, with 20 events during that year, a year in which Sebastien Vettel pipped Fernando Alonso the Drivers’ Title.

The argument does not necessarily stay with just the amount of races of the time that elapses between the start and end of the season. It also depends on where the races are held. For instance, we go back to the 1977 season. After the first four races (ARG, BRA, RSA, US W), Races 5-14 were all in Europe. Also, there was a gap of six weeks between the Brazilian and South African Grands Prix, with a further four weeks before the US West Grand Prix. It was after that the races become fortnightly in Europe, but the travel was easily completed in the time given.

Compare this to the 2012 season, which had 20 races. Only eight of those were held in Europe, and the last seven races of the season were all “flyaways”. The season started in mid-March with a double-header in Australia and Malaysia, before another double-header in April, with races in China and Bahrain on consecutive weekends. Apart from the Canadian Grand Prix in June, the middle part of the season was all European, from Spain in May to Italy in September. For the teams, it was the latter part of the season that became a problem. After travelling to Singapore in late September, they did not return home until the end of November, after seven straight races in far flung countries (SIN, JAP, KOR, IND, UAE, USA, BRA).


With more flyaway options coming into play for Bernie Ecclestone when he tries to sort out the F1 calendar each season, do the old race start to fade away? Could that mean more travel and more time away from families for the teams and their workers?

Currently, I would say that the F1 calendar is on the edge of becoming too long. The way it is run, with the season starting in March and ending in November is spot on. However, if the number of races increases, it will become a struggle to fit it all in to that period of time, especially when you have to think about travelling from country to country for each event.

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