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F1 boss sets new target for number of races per season

With Formula 1 looking to expand into new territories as well as welcoming previous Grands Prix back onto the schedule, CEO Stefano Domenicali says the sport will continue to assess opportunities to develop the calendar.

F1 chief Stefano Domenicali says the level of global interest in the sport means it may look at expanding its calendar further, with future Grands Prix being mooted in Las Vegas and Africa. Assuming the Russian Grand Prix is replaced, a record 23 races will be held in 2022, and rumours suggest that Las Vegas - which previously held Formula 1 events in 1981 and 1982 - will join the calendar in 2023. Speaking to Sky Sports F1 on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Domenicali acknowledged that other destinations had also registered an interest in joining the F1 schedule. "We need to be balanced; we need to see what the other opportunities are," said Domenicali. "Very soon, we are going to tell everyone what our strategy is to develop that market."

China and Africa are big priorities

In addition to referencing the Chinese Grand Prix, which is set to return in 2023 after a three-year Covid-enforced absence, Domenicali named Africa as a notable growth market for Formula 1. Though the continent currently contains no circuits that fulfil the FIA's criteria for hosting an F1 Grand Prix, Kyalami has been suggested as a possible destination. The South African venue featured regularly on the Formula 1 calendar until 1993, and was recently championed as a potential future Grand Prix destination by Lewis Hamilton. "On top of America, on top of China, I think there is the potential also to be in Africa soon," Domenicali explained. "There is a lot of interest there. For sure, that's another area that, so far, is missing in the geography of our calendar."

Could the calendar expand to 24 races?

This year's F1 season is set to run to 23 races, and the current Concorde Agreement, which expires in 2025, allows for a maximum of 24 Grands Prix in a calendar year. Though some observers have suggested that adding more events to the campaign would stretch travelling personnel to breaking point, Domenicali said he was eager to explore this opportunity. "I think there is potential to go to 24," the sport's CEO commented. "I would say there is potential to go to 30, in terms of the interest we see all around the world. "It is up to us to try to find the right balance, considering the venues which would like to be in F1, [and] the historical values we need to see on the calendar." However, whilst there is enough interest to go beyond 24 races, the limit set out in the Concorde Agreement means that this will not happen in the immediate future.

Are current F1 races in jeopardy?

Domenicali also implied that some current races could lose their spots on the calendar. The French Grand Prix, Mexico City Grand Prix and Austrian Grand Prix will all see their contracts expire during 2022, but Austria does hold an option to extend by a further two seasons. "There are some promoters who have expiring agreements, and probably some of the current Grands Prix will no longer be part of the calendar," said Domenicali.

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