Stefano Domenicali exclusive: F1 boss on 2022 and plans for Sprint to fill 'one third' of calendar
F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali speaks exclusively to Sky Sports News about the 2022 calendar and the possibility of seven or eight Sprint events after the format's debut this year
By Matt Morlidge and Craig Slater
Last Updated: 05/10/21 8:23am
Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali has revealed in an exclusive interview that next year's planned 23-race calendar is set for the earliest season's finish in over a decade, while a third of it could include the Sprint format.
Speaking to Sky Sports News' Craig Slater following the sport's Qatar announcement, the F1 president and CEO - while saying a full 2022 calendar reveal wouldn't be until October 15 - disclosed key details about the schedule.
F1 2022 is set for the record-breaking 23 races which were planned for 2021 before cancellations, while it is also due to start in March and finish in the middle of November.
Avoiding football's winter World Cup, that would be the earliest finish to a season since 2010.
"I can anticipate that, for sure, the calendar will be done with 23 races," said Domenicali, who has been proud of F1's efforts of forming a global schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Of course we will be very respectful towards the Covid regulations issued around the world from the different governments. But that is our aim that F1 can give this sign of hope and to go to normal things to enjoy."
He then explained: "The idea is to make sure there is the right rhythm to the calendar. There are of course considerations related to periods to make sure logistically the flow has to be right.
"One thing I can tell you, without discovering too many things is that next year the season will start in the middle of March and will finish in the middle of November."
The F1 boss wouldn't go into detail about what race is where, although the new Miami GP is already confirmed for May while the campaign is expected to start in Bahrain and finish in Abu Dhabi. Races in Imola and Turkey are also under consideration.
He did however reveal that there would be more Sprint events than we have seen this season.
The new F1 Sprint, a short Saturday race that sets the grid for Sunday's showpiece Grand Prix, has been trialled at two 2021 events so far - on incident-filled weekends at Silverstone and Monza - while another is planned for Brazil.
According to Domenicali, the success of those three-day weekends has led to F1 planning to use the format much more in 2022, possibly at seven or eight rounds.
"We said at the beginning of the year there would be three tests this year to make sure we have the right plan for the future," he said. "The vast majority of the comments we received were super positive. Promoters are super happy because there is something new and important on Friday and Saturday and Sunday.
"We are receiving this positive feedback therefore we need to know next year we have a great plan where we will consider also the points highlighted by people who did not like this format. Generally speaking it has been an incredible success.
"I can say we will not go everywhere with the Sprint qualy format. It is something we want to keep for one third of the races more or less and to connect with a certain different way of giving rewards and points and to connect with specific circuits that as you know would make the difference.
"So there is a lot of food for thought. We will involve all the stakeholders: broadcasters, drivers, teams, promoters and fans. We won't forget our role is to take the right decision and to consider all the points and points of view of everyone."
In the in-depth exclusive interview with Craig Slater, other topics included:
- Qatar will always be a night race while there is "another plan" for venue from 2023 onwards
- F1 uses "most efficient" engine in motorsport. Sky Sports understands a new engine supplier for the new generation power units from 2026 could be announced before this season's end.
- Praise for the "fantastic" grid of drivers, from the young rising stars to the established legends.
Domenicali on Hamilton vs Verstappen and Lewis' record
The F1 chief also had his say on Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen's thrilling title battle as the season moves on to its final seven races, saying there are "two fantastic drivers on either side and big tension between two of the most important teams", in Mercedes and Red Bull.
Hamilton and Verstappen are currently split by just two points in the championship and Domenicali added: "If you ask that to me, I say that I really hope it goes to the last corner of the last lap in Abu Dhabi! That would be terrific.
"I would say from what I see this year that this is a possibility it could happen and I really hope so for everyone. What's behind that is an incredible fight between two incredible drivers: one who can achieve what no one has been able to achieve and for Max who is trying to fight for his first title.
Not only that but connected to that the teams are under pressure. No mistakes are possible; then there is reliability which is another factor. What more do you want in a championship!"
Hamilton moved back ahead of Verstappen in the standings following his Russian GP victory, his record-extending 100th in F1 as he moved a step closer to beating Michael Schumacher's tally of seven titles.
"I think that records are there be beaten," said Domenicali. "There has been an incredible respect for what Lewis was able to achieve.
"I remember at that time we said Michael did something that is impossible and now we are here to say that is not. That is the beauty of sport. There is always someone to keep the motivation even higher before.
"I'm pretty sure Michael was an incredible reference for Lewis and Lewis will be a great reference for other drivers but today we witness the incredible and extraordinary success that Lewis was able to achieve."