OCTOBER 12, 2004
The two-day Grand Prix
The passage of Typhoon Ma-on in Japan was an amusement for most of Formula 1 but it may have handed Bernie Ecclestone the ammunition he needs to increase the Formula 1 calendar by reducing the number of days spent at each event. Michael Schumacher and many others said that they felt doing qualifying and the race on Sunday was too much work - and many of the journalists would agree with that, and point out that it would also reduce the overall coverage of the sport in the written press. But others, such as Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn, like the idea of two-day meetings.
"I think with the number of races we have now, it's at its limit," Brawn said. "To have our mechanics, technicians and engineers away from home so much, plus the fact that a lot of them get involved with testing to give the team continuity, means that it is very tough for them. Ferrari has been an advocate of two-day race meetings for quite a long time. We've always felt that three days may be too long and that Saturday and Sunday is perfectly adequate to have a good race meeting. So, prepare on Saturday morning, qualify on Saturday afternoon and race on Sunday - or maybe have a second qualifying session on Sunday morning. There are lots of things you could look at."
The bad news is that promoters will not be happy because shorter events will mean less income being generated in the local area and, therefore, less interest from the local government in investing in the events. At the moment many races have hotels which are charging five-night minimums even though the events last only three days. At Monaco that is often a seven-night minimum. This would not be possible with two-day events. However on the flyaway F1 races this could be supplemented by clever use of the calendar as it would make no sense for teams to fly home between events which were twinned within easy reach of one another and so the hotels would be able to maintain their demands.
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