Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturdays: How Many Races Are Too Many in an F1 Season?

This year, there has been a little bit of talk in the Formula 1 paddock on the schedule.

The longest schedule of all time in F1 with 23 races originally scheduled, the push to get more races and more money continues on. Next year will mark 24 races, the maximum amount allowed under the current Concorde Agreement between the FIA, F1 Management, and F1 teams.

There’s already been some active discussion about the next Concorde Agreement allowing for more races. The current one lasts through 2025, meaning the next one will start with the brand new 2026 regulations that will already bring a number of changes to the cars and the engines.

Charles Leclerc spoke about this subject in an interview with Motorsport.com, discussing the logistics and meaning of adding even more races to the F1 schedule.

“One side of me understands,” Leclerc started. “It’s not easy if you put yourself in the shoes of Formula 1. We have a sport that is booming, and it’s great to have that. We are very lucky to have that.

“At the same time, I feel like, at one point, it just gets too much. Not for us drivers, because we have a really good life.

“And I think the drivers that are complaining probably don’t realize that the mechanics, the engineers, the guys on the logistics are here three days before us and leave two days after. I think for them, it starts to be quite a bit.

“[…] I’m happy whenever I’m in the car, but I think that a Grand Prix still needs to be a unique thing. And I feel like if you always have a Grand Prix every weekend, then you probably will lose a little bit of that special feeling you get whenever you get to a race.”

In the early days of Grand Prix driving in the 1920s-1930s, it was generally only a few or a handful of races designated as such in a year. After World War II, F1 officially formed in 1950, and from that year to 1966, there were ten or fewer races in every season except for one.

Starting in 1984, 16 races became the standard for the next 11 seasons, and even that period, it wasn’t until 2005 when F1 finally went over the 17 race mark. The 2016 season would mark the first time there would be over 20 races in a season.

See also
F1 Midweek: Why Is F1 So Much Worse in 2023 Than in 2022?

The reality of the current situation is that, since 2016, there have only been two F1 seasons that were 20 races or less. One came in 2017, which only came about due to the removal of the legendary German Grand Prix. The other came in 2020, a season of only 17 races due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re seeing the problems with such a long season this year alone. We all know that Max Verstappen will win the championship, and the second half of this season would be way less of a grind if only three-to-seven races were remaining after the summer break. But no, there are still ten races to go, including three sprint weekends.

Now, I know there are NASCAR fans with their 36-race calendar reading this column and thinking about just how soft these dumb F1 people are for wanting less than 25 races in a season. There are far more logistics involved in Formula 1, with it being a world championship that travels to 20 different countries and the paddock having to be built and torn down for every weekend.

Honestly, I think 20 races is the best number for F1, specifically setting a limit of non-European races to 10 in order to reduce travel time for the European-based race teams.

This is something pretty easily done looking at the 2024 schedule, which has 14 non-European races. Removing Saudi Arabia, China, and Abu Dhabi for problematic reasons with those countries and then cutting Miami would get us to the magic 20 number.

The schedule should also be standardized to start with the five flyaway races in Eastern countries and then end with the five flyaway races in Western countries. This would require Montreal to move to the fall and Singapore and Qatar to the spring, but none of those moves would be impossible.

Above anything, F1 races should fall much more under the philosophy of less is more. It should not be a standard feature of any weekend from March to November, it should be much more of a special event when there actually is one.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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