The World Motor Sport Council approved the new calendar for next year’s FIA Formula One World Championship in late September which consists of a record number of 24 races!
The championship, like last year, kicks off under the floodlights in Bahrain on March 5 and concludes in Abu Dhabi on November 26. This upcoming season will feature a record-breaking 24 races with the addition of a race in China and Qatar, as well as another in the United States – but this time also in Nevada for a Saturday night race in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is arriving as the penultimate race of the season and will see the cars street race along the famous strip which will certainly be a sight to behold.
The French GP, Circuit Paul Ricard, is the one race that is being cut for next season which is a huge shame considering that the only French F1 manufacturer Alpine now has two French drivers, with the addition of Pierre Gasly driving alongside Esteban Ocon.
Monaco also retains a spot on the calendar amid speculation that the iconic race in Monte Carlo could be dropped. The Belgium GP also retains its spot after speculation it might not survive next season’s schedule.
Qatar and China both return to the calendar following absences, with the former missing from the 2022 schedule and the latter not hosting a race since 2019 due to the pandemic.
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said, “The presence of 24 races on the 2023 FIA F1 World Championship calendar is further evidence of the growth and appeal of the sport on a more global scale.” The addition of new venues and the retention of traditional events underlines the FIA’s sound stewardship of the sport.
With the increase in popularity of the sport throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the owners of F1, Liberty Media Corporation, wanted to expand the calendar and seize the opportunity as the fans of the sport increase. This multimedia giant owned by John C. Malone has seen an increase in interest to the sport due to the close rivalry between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, which was particularly striking last season, as well as the Netflix show ‘Drive to Survive’ which is a series giving insights into tensions and dynamics behind the paddock.Throughout the pandemic, Formula One was one of the sports that tried to keep competing and traveling to tracks wherever they were able to and so this also meant that there was a generation of new fans.
F1 had announced that it wanted to make the 2023 schedule more regional to avoid unnecessary travel around the world however some of the races remain extremely spread out, especially in North America. F1’s credibility when it comes to doing its bit to help reduce its emissions is not helped when great plays are initially made of the regional scheduling, and we end up with a seemingly bizarre calendar which sees the F1 circuit travel from Azerbaijan to Miami and then back to Italy for the Grand Prix in Imola. Although I understand it is the last two races of the season, it still seems ludicrous to have a race in Las Vegas and then days later one in Abu Dhabi – that’s 8,200 miles, a 17 plus hour flights & an 11-hour time difference!
An important consideration that has been made is for the F1 schedule to avoid a direct clash with the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mohammed Ben Sulayem said, “I am delighted that we will be able to take Formula 1’s new era of exciting racing, created by the FIA’s 2022 Regulations, to a broader fan base in 2023. In framing the 2023 F1 calendar, WMSC Members have also been mindful of the timing of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
This prestigious endurance-focused sports car race is held annually near the town of Le Mans, France, and is the world’s oldest active endurance racing event. It is due to take place on 10-11 June, which will be the week between the Spanish and Canadian Grand Prix.
There has also been a discussion about whether there are too many races in the calendar. The continued increase in additions to the race calendar is stark when you look at the 2003 schedule. The 2023 calendar has 50% more races on it than the 2003 one had: 24 in comparison to 16!
The continued perception that F1 wants to be more global is ironic when there is not one single race in Africa. The F1 president Stefano Domenicali did fly out to South Africa in June to meet with some representatives of the Kyalami circuit, however a deal could not be reached in time for a F1 race to go back to Africa. Kyalami is a race track that was on the calendar in the 1970s and early 1980s but the last time a Grand Prix was held there was in 1993. F1 claim they are working towards having Kyalami back on the calendar in 2024 – time will tell.
2023 F1 calendar
5 March: Bahrain (Sakhir)
19 March: Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)
2 April: Australia (Melbourne)
16 April: China (Shanghai)*
30 April: Azerbaijan (Baku)
7 May: Miami
21 May: Emilia Romagna (Imola)
28 May: Monaco
4 June: Spain (Barcelona)
18 June: Canada (Montreal)
2 July: Austria (Red Bull Ring)
9 July: United Kingdom (Silverstone)
23 July: Hungary (Budapest)
30 July: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)
27 August: Netherlands (Zandvoort)
3 September: Italy (Monza)
17 September: Singapore (Marina Bay)
24 September: Japan (Suzuka)
8 October: Qatar (Losail)*
22 October: USA (Austin)
29 October: Mexico (Mexico City)
5 November: Brazil (Sao Paulo)
18 November: Las Vegas**
26 November: Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
*Returning for next season