Since being appointed as Formula 1’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations in January, Sean Bratches has revealed that more than 40 countries and venues that are keen to host races in the future have approached him about joining the calendar.
Bratches was appointed to the role by Liberty Media at the same time that Ross Brawn was appointed as the Managing Director of Motor Sports, and he has been looking at a possible revamp of the calendar that currently runs at 20 races across five continents.
The idea is to keep existing venues and introduce new circuits that will have a positive effect on Formula 1’s future, with city centre venues around the globe being considered.
“Right now by the operation of the Concorde Agreement, the cap is 25,” said Bratches. “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.”
With city circuits looking likely to be looked at closely, Bratches does not expect any more purpose-built Hermann Tilke-style circuits to be brought into the mix, and he expects some tracks on the calendar to lose out to other venues.
“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,” said Bratches.
“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.
“I think as we look at the apportionment of races by region, you’re going to see some fall out, and some added. We are very anxious to maximise the opportunities of these Grand Prix.”
Bratches wants to ensure the schedule makes logistical sense, with the current calendar not the most efficient for teams, drivers or the fans of the sport. He knows it will be difficult to achieve, but he would prefer to see one region host a number of races before they move on to the next.
“Right now we’re jumping all over the globe with no thoughtful cadence,” said Bratches. “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 Grand 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.”