At the start of October, it was revealed that the 2016 Formula One World Championship would consist of a record 21 races.
This schedule has now been thrown into doubt as the FIA published their sporting regulations for the 2016 season at the start of the week where it states in article 5.4: "the maximum number of Events in the championship is 20 and the minimum is eight". This revelation has put all tracks on alert regarding their inclusion.
The provisional calendar for 2016 had seen the re-inclusion of the German Grand Prix and the addition of a new street race around Baku in June.
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These were on top of the 19 races from the 2015 calendar and, with this news, it may turn into a bidding war between some of the newest events on the calendar. They will have to battle it out to be included in the 20 sanctioned events.
It is estimated to cost around $40 million to host a Formula One race. With an outlay of that magnitude, the race organisers need to have reassurances they will be guaranteed an inclusion for the season to come and further seasons.
Time is money
The tracks for the 2016 season need to know in advance if they will be included to provide them sufficient time to sell tickets and arrange other forms for revenue to ensure they make enough money to at least cover their costs.
As we saw with the German Grand Prix this year, if a track fails to sell the event out then the promoter is going to be out of pocket resulting in them dropping out. The FIA will also run the risk of some tracks not wanting to be part of any seasons to come which would damage Formula One both commercially and competitively.
The regulations state that the FIA have until January 1 to submit the final race calendar for the upcoming season. In that time, the FIA either has to change its regulations or make the tough choice to remove one of the events.
With the season due to get underway on March 20, any changes implemented to the calendar could result in logistical nightmares for the teams, the FIA and fans, most of whom will already have purchased tickets.
This is a situation that needs to be sorted quickly and efficiently or else the FIA look very amateurish in their dealings and not only will the tracks suffer but both the fan experience and inclusion will suffer.