Two more Saturday races as Formula One announces 2024 schedule

By AFP   July 5, 2023 | 10:51 pm PT
Formula One on Wednesday announced a 24-race schedule for the 2024 season, opening with two that will be raced on Saturdays.

The sport will hope for better luck next year as organizers had scheduled a record 24 races this season, but China was canceled in April due to Covid restrictions and Emilia Romagna axed after flooding.

The 2024 Bahrain and Saudi Arabia races will be held on Saturdays to accommodate Ramadan.

That will make three Saturday races on the calendar along with Las Vegas. This season's inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, scheduled at 10 p.m. local time on 18 November, will be the first full Formula One race on a Saturday since 1985.

For the Saturday races, the opening two free practice sessions will be on Thursday, with the third practice and qualifying on Friday.

This season was the fourth straight year the Shanghai race was scheduled but then cancelled because of the pandemic.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy was to be hosted in Imola but had to be called off days before the race after severe flooding hit the region.

Both are on the calendar for next year when the season will start in February and end in December.

"I believe this calendar strikes the right balance between traditional races and new and existing venues," said Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali.

Several races have been shuffled as F1 moves "towards greater calendar regionalization, reducing logistical burdens and making the season more sustainable".

Japan has been brought forward to April, "in the heart of the country's beautiful cherry blossom season", said an F1 statement.

Azerbaijan shifted back to September, with Qatar moved to just before the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi in early December.

"This calendar creates a better flow of races in certain regions," the statement added.

"(F1 is) being realistic to the fact that as a world championship, with climatic and contractual constraints, there will always be travel required that cannot be completely regionalized."

Under the 'Concorde Agreement' between motorsport governing body the FIA, Formula One and the teams, 24 is the maximum number of races in a season.

The calendar will contain three bursts of three races in three weeks, including the last three in Las Vegas, Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

There are also two three-week breaks -- the traditional summer break and a pause between Singapore on September 22 and the United States Grand Prix on October 20.

"We want to make the global spectacle of Formula One more efficient in terms of environmental sustainability and more manageable for the traveling staff who dedicate so much of their time to our sport," said FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Bahrain will be the venue for pre-season testing, from February 21 to 23, although no decision has yet been made official.

The Belgian Grand Prix at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, once threatened by the emergence of new, more lucrative, venues, has been retained.

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