LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One is planning to expand to 24 races in the near future, with some rotation of circuits, chief executive Chase Carey said on Thursday.
The sport has pencilled in a record 23 for next year, dependent on developments in the COVID-19 pandemic which forced organisers to rewrite this season’s schedule and limit races to Europe and the Middle East.
Carey, who is handing over to former Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali in January while remaining as non-executive chairman of the Liberty Media-owned sport, was speaking to investors.
“We expect to move to a 24-race calendar in the next few years, and will probably rotate a few races so we will be able to accommodate a few new partners,” said the American.
“But they will be limited as long-term partnerships continue to be our priority.”
Formula One had two new races this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, at Portugal’s Algarve circuit and Mugello in Italy, while also bringing back the Nuerburgring in Germany, Italy’s Imola and Turkey’s Istanbul Park for the first time in years.
Those races were stand-ins for others that had to be cancelled on what ended up as a 17-round calendar.
Saudi Arabia will be the new round on the calendar next season with a night race in Jeddah.
Formula One has never had more than 21 rounds in a season and extending the calendar has caused concern about the burden placed on team staff.
Carey said Formula One’s viewership was up slightly on last year despite the dominance of Mercedes for a seventh year in succession and a lacklustre showing by Ferrari.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond
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