MARCH 8, 2002
Twenty-five races a year?
JACQUES VILLENUEVE's idea that there should be 25 races and no testing sounds good but in reality would greatly increase the costs of Formula 1. Extra races add costs and it is not really important whether they are three-day or four-day meetings. Everyone agrees that the fastest way to cut costs in F1 is to cut the number of races rather add to the calendar.
A ban on testing would mean that teams would then invest much more heavily in simulation technology which would mean that the bigger teams would be able to gain a bigger advantage over the smaller operations as they could do more testing with seven-post rigs, transient dynos and other simulation machinery.
As a means of cutting costs therefore Villeneuve's idea is of little value and teams are opposed to increasing the number of events as they say that there is a danger of having too many races and saturating the audience. The general feeling is that 16 races is the right number. Sponsors might be willing to pay more money for more events but this would not be enough to offset the costs.
The idea of having two-day race meetings is not really saving much money and it is undermining the sport's attraction to venues as local governments are not going to be as willing to agree to shorter races as it will reduce the direct income which an area gains from the events. With race fees at around $10m a year, F1 has to provide the locals with value for money and that would be reduced if there were shorter race meetings.
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