Written by Staff Writer
At a time when Ferrari is touring Ferrari museums, and Sebastian Vettel is going global on and off the track, there’s a lot to look forward to this season at the ‘Goodwood Festival of Speed’, but there may not be another Grand Prix… in more than 20 years.
It has emerged that the Monaco Grand Prix will be reduced from a seven-day event in 2022, leading to rumours that the FIA — Formula One’s governing body — is preparing to add a season to the current calendar in 2021.
The event has long been regarded as the pinnacle of motor racing for drivers and fans alike, and has attracted three-day weekends of pomp and celebrity for almost half a century.
F1’s starting time will also be extended in Monaco to finish just after the race, and the schedule is now expected to include races in China, England, Spain, France, Italy, Russia and Spain.
F1 began as an eight-race calendar in 1960 but last year the series consisted of 13. With fewer races, the pre-race buildup to each round is less expansive, and time slots are usually taken up with scrutineering and recovery work.
For Formula One fans — such as CNN’s Richard Quest and Jimmy Quintana — it’s an event that comes with a ticket price, an entry fee, a series of nearby hotels and a feast of events to engage with the drivers and crew, as well as an event a day long that participants often describe as the highlight of their season.
The town of Monaco has transformed in preparation for the race, hosting a popular theme park that bills itself as the highest roller coaster in the world, among other attractions. It has also built three temporary floodlights for nighttime racing, something that’s never before been attempted on any grand prix circuit.
The three-day format will be more challenging for drivers, according to some attendees who have been to previous races in the principality.
The use of temporary floodlights will create new racing challenges, according to F1 Chief Executive Chase Carey. (Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images Europe)
“F1 needs to have enough storylines, drivers and moments for people to follow and catch the whole event. We’ve seen in previous events that (three-day races) don’t work as well,” he told CNN.
“People who do big events like the Grand Prix… are great fans. They have big followings and follow and support and follow the drivers, the teams and the series.”
It’s not the first time the FIA has indicated that it may adopt a season-long calendar — in 2005 it even hinted at introducing an eight-race calendar, but never followed through on it.
But with a healthy and profitable series running for over a half century, a dramatic change seems unlikely.
While the number of races has been an issue for some fans, there’s plenty of positives to take from an increasing fan base worldwide.
Meanwhile, the fall-out between teams is also taking up a large amount of time in the public eye. Last week in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was caught offering to help his rivals in exchange for faster race times. Raikkonen’s teammate Vettel went on to beat Raikkonen in a hotly contested final race of the season.