New Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says all events on the 23-race calendar for the 2021 season can feasibly take place based on current information, despite the need to be flexible given the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his first interview since taking up his new role, Domenicali told Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle that “there’s no reason to lie” on the viability of the scheduled races, even if the fluid global situation could have an impact in the future.
F1’s original 23-race calendar has already changed once, with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix put back to November 21 and Imola replacing Shanghai. However, Domenicali says other venues are on standby to slot in if required, suggesting the intention to attempt to hold 23 races is not too optimistic.
“I’m personally in contact on a daily basis with all the organisers because we know that the pandemic is still there, we know very well about it,” Domenicali told Sky Sports F1. “That’s why we changed the place in the calendar of Australia.
“But so far, the information that we have is that everyone would like to go ahead with the plan. Of course, we need to be flexible enough to understand that maybe in the first part of the season we may have some events with no public or with restricted number of public.
“But what I can assure our supporters, our fans, is that we want to make sure that the season is there. We have a commitment, we want to take that on board, we have possible alternatives in case of [losing races].
“But so far no one has given us different information to what we have shared.
“There’s no reason to lie, there’s no reason to say something that is not right and correct. This is what we know today, but we know how the pandemic has evolved so we need to be ready for a flexible approach to the season.”
Domenicali also discussed the concerns raised that the record 23-race calendar risks over-saturation over Formula 1.
The new Concorde Agreement that binds F1 together commercially allows as many as 25 races to be scheduled, and it is expected that this number will be hit in the future given the positive impact it would have on revenue.
But Domenicali did concede that if 23 races proves to be too many, F1 could switch to a race ‘rotation’ system whereby certain grands prix are not held every year to keep the number down. This could allow a larger group of venues to share a reduced number of slots, with F1 planning to analyse the impact of having so many races this year provided all do go ahead.
“Twenty-three races is a very important number of races, no doubt, in terms of quantity, in terms of attention, in terms of dedication of the people,” added Domenicali.
“There could be two positions on that respect; someone could say there are too many, some others that it is not a problem.
“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 having maybe the chance of having rotation of certain grands prix.
“This is something in our plan, to think carefully this year getting ready for when the world will be normal again.”