Formula 1 has received around 40 new expressions of interest from potential grand prix venues, F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches informed.
F1 will primarily focus on developing street racing circuits in major cities and will choose the new cities based on what they can bring to the sport rather than only focus on making good commercial deals.
Talking about the expansion plans Bratches said, “Right now by the operation of the Concorde Agreement, the cap is 25. In the seven months, I’ve been in this job I’ve probably had about 40 countries, cities, municipalities, principalities approach me about interest in hosting an F1 race, which is extremely encouraging.
“I think it’s representative of the brand, and what people are trying to do locally for fans, and drive visibility and scope for their business.
“As we look at the race calendar, we’re looking to do a number of things. Historically, it’s been a very reactive process in terms of cities coming to F1 with interest.
“I think from a brand standpoint we’re trying to pivot and become much more proactive in identifying cities and locations that are accretive to our brand and our strategy of hosting races where you can activate large fan bases – particularly in city centres.”
Bratches pointed out Street racing has generated a tremendous amount of interest in fans as well as teams. So more than permanent race tracks, F1 will look at other alternates.
“In terms of the next tranche of where we’re going, I don’t think you’re going to have too many more purpose-built tracks built.
“We’re going to have an apportionment between city tracks, heritage tracks, and purpose-built. The next objective is to put our shoulders behind more city races. For the reasons I stated, we think that’s a very attractive proposition from our perspective.”
Of the existing tracks, which ones are in doubts of survival we asked, and he said: “We love all our children! I think as we look at the apportionment of races by region, you’re going to see some fallout, and some added. We are very anxious to maximise the opportunities of these grands prix.”
There is also a plan to split the season into regions so that races in Asia, Europe and America races are grouped together, bringing down logistical and marketing expenses for F1, the teams and also for the fans.
“Right now we’re jumping all over the globe with no thoughtful cadence. In an ideal world, and forget the order, but you’d have kind of the first third of the races in Europe, the second third in the Americas, and the last tranche in Asia.
“What that does is allow you create efficiencies in terms of travelling this circus. When we go through Europe, there are 350 18-wheelers that take it around, and north of 10 747s that fly us around the world. So creating efficiencies is I think a big opportunity.
“The other opportunity from a fan standpoint is being able to say to a fan [that] for the next two or three months you’re going to have to get up early to watch the grands prix, and for the next two months it’s midday, and [then] night. So for a navigation of fans to drive audience and viewership, I think it’s very interesting.”
Formula 1 has loosened up many tight regulations around the social media posting about F1 etc, encouraging teams to get close to the fans via videos, Instagram posts etc and now with the new venues, they are planning to widen the fan base and reach more audience than ever before.