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Stefano Domenicali

F1 boss set on increasing sprints but argues calendar-length criticism is 'wrong'

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has revealed his plans to increase the number of sprint weekends in the series, but insists it is "wrong" to argue 24 grand prix is too much.

Domenicali
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F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has shared his "goal" for sprint events, with the existing six weekends comprising 25 percent of the current 24 round calendar.

The 59-year-old would like to see that proportion go up, contending that the "numbers" underscore an interest in doing so.

The F1 calendar has expanded rapidly in recent years, with five more race weekends than a decade ago, and eight more rounds than the late 1990s - and increase of 50 percent. With the six sprints added to the number of grand prix, F1 is at a total of 30 races across the season, and it does not look likely to stop there.

"That is the goal," Domenicali told Auto, Motor und Sport when asked if he will increase the number of sprints in F1. "The numbers show that there is interest in it."

It is often suggested that the current number of races, and the number of rounds, in particular, is too much. However, the Italian disagrees, pointing to football and basketball as two sports with a more condensed and packed schedule.

"I don't think 24 grand prix is ​​an oversupply," he replied when asked if F1 was at risk of over-saturation.

"Look at other sports. Football and basketball are played every other day. They entertain their fans much more intensively. In terms of quantity, we have a lot less content to offer.

"Nevertheless, we are doing very well compared to other sports and are growing. Everyone who is involved in our sport, no matter how, should be happy with the situation."

'It is wrong to say 24 is too much'

There has long been talk that the pressure and demand put on those working within the sport, not just the drivers, is becoming out of control. Some teams have even considered introducing job sharing to provide staff a better work-life balance and to reduce travel expectations.

However, whilst Domenicali maintains he does not want an increase of grand prix weekends - explaining that F1 wants to keep the number consistent - he does feel it is incorrect to suggest 24 is too many.

"We want to leave it at 24 grand prix, but it is wrong to say that 24 is too much," he said when asked about calendar expansion.

"Too much of what? When the sport is as good as it is right now with many possible winners, fans are counting the days until the next race. I mean, we have a field that is closer together than ever before. 

"Today we are talking about intervals of 0.078 or 0.093 seconds. That's less than a tenth for a lap of more than four or five kilometres. Distances like we see in a 100 meter run. 24 races is a good number. 

"Each of our events has its own character. I mean, the Monaco Grand Prix was certainly not the most exciting grand prix in history, but we had one of the best TV ratings anywhere in the world. We want to keep a good balance between old and new races. Although there are many more countries that want to have a grand prix."

That in itself poses another challenge - extending F1's reach, without growing past the current 24-weekend slate. When it was queried how the series would tackle the issue, Domenicali confirmed the potential for calendar rotation: "We are thinking about a rotation system. It is likely that we will start doing this in Europe."

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