Expansion to 22-race F1 calendar could rest on extra engine concern

Formula 1

Formula 1’s expansion to a record-breaking 22 races in 2020 could rest on manufacturer estimations on completing the longer season without using an extra power unit per car.

As the Spanish Grand Prix edges closer a deal to remain on the schedule next year, there is an increasing likelihood that the calendar will grow in 2020.

While Germany looks unlikely to return, the additions of Vietnam and the Netherlands, a renewal for Britain – and Italy and Mexico also being set for fresh deals – has left F1’s owner Liberty Media considering next year becoming the championship’s longest schedule.

But adding an extra race needs support from teams, and Haas team boss Gunther Steiner confirmed ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix that he had been canvassed over his approval for a 22-race schedule.

He said that his only concern was regarding engine manufacturers being happy completing the campaign without the need for an extra fourth powerunit, which would be costly for his team if such a step was needed.

“We have been asked and I gave my opinion,” said Steiner. “I’m OK with it, logistically to find out.

“One of my things is we need to keep it to three engines because if we are to use a fourth engine it doesn’t make sense financially to us. Actually, it is negative for us so why would we do that?

“That is down to the engine manufacturers to say yes or no. If they are confident they can do it with three engines then I am fine with it.”

F1’s engine regulations used to allow the use of an extra power unit if the calendar expands beyond a certain number of races, but the regulations currently limit drivers to three for the entire season no matter the length of the schedule.

While Steiner is not against a move to 22 races, Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams is more sceptical about growing the calendar because of the risk of it driving up costs.

“Personally I would like to see fewer races,” she said.

“If you put too many races on the calendar it is too much for people to consume when there is so much competition in the market against other sporting events and other media.

“The other consideration is personnel. If you increase the number of races on the calendar, the pressure that puts on your team from a performance perspective and what they are capable of doing with a work/life balance is difficult.

“For smaller teams it is very difficult to think about how we manage a calendar with north of 21 races on it because we have incremental costs of swapping personnel.

“For example, do we need, rather than two race engineers, four race engineers? There are costs of transporting freight around the world too.

“You have to think about how much those races are being sold for? Do they put a huge amount in the pot? I would be opposed to having more races on the calendar.”

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