Domenicali offers no guarantee of races in Europe staying on F1 calendar

  • Chief executive rejects calls for some meetings to be ring-fenced
  • ‘This is something that also cannot be taken for granted’

The Formula One chief executive, Stefano Domenicali, has warned that races in Europe will have no guarantee of their place on the sport’s calendar in future.

The demand to host F1 is higher than ever and, with state‑backed circuits willing to pay exorbitant sums of money, Domenicali rejected calls for what are considered classic meetings to be ring-fenced as integral to the history and appeal of the sport.

Domenicali was speaking before this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix which has featured in 66 years of the F1 world championship since it began in 1950 and is adored by drivers and fans but remains in discussions to be a host beyond this year. This week Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, called for some classic European races – including Silverstone, Spa and Monza – to be ring-fenced as part of the sport’s “DNA”.

Domenicali insisted he believed the calendar should not rise above 24 meetings – the number that next season is expected to reach and the sport’s current cap as agreed with the teams. However with F1 enjoying huge popularity this is far outstripped by demand for races.

The Italian, who was formerly a team principal at Ferrari, said the European market remained a vital part of F1 plans but the circuits had to prove their place, especially given they do not pay as much as recent additions such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“You can be assured these places will always be part of the discussions for the future,” he said. “But this is something that also on their side cannot be taken for granted, that if you don’t do anything you will always be there. Because that is not right.

“Monza will be a celebration this year of the 100th anniversary of the Italian Grand Prix but as an Italian I always say to them: ‘History is not enough. We need to invest for a great future.’ Monza need to do their job, they need to update the structure, to update a place that is iconic but there is a need to look ahead.”

This year there are 22 races but F1 is in discussion now to hold a race in South Africa next year alongside additional new meetings in Las Vegas and Qatar and a return for China, if Covid regulations allow. The French GP is believed to be already off the schedule but Spa and Monaco remain without contracts for 2023.

The pressure is immense with other circuits having concluded long‑term deals: Saudi Arabia’s is worth a reported £50m per meeting for more than a decade; Qatar will begin its 10-year deal next season, having paid similar money; while at the end of last year Abu Dhabi renewed its contract until the end of the decade.

Domenicali insisted that financial imperatives would not dictate the sport’s decisions. “We are a business where investments and financial contributions are very important. But we have always said that the traditional races, where we know they cannot bring the money the others are bringing, have full respect from us.”


Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

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