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F1: Pirelli open to more races

Paul Hembery says Pirelli would be open to more than 20 races in a season but says F1 needs to learn how to make new venues sustainable
Paul Hembery says Pirelli would be open to more than 20 races in a season but says F1 needs to learn how to make new venues sustainable.

It was announced in July that Mexico will re-join the calendar next season while Azerbaijan is due to host its first ever grand prix in 2016. With the inaugural Russian Grand Prix set to take place in October new venues are constantly being added and Hembery said Pirelli would be willing to work within an expanded calendar beyond the current limit of 20 races.

“When you go to new locations and you're bringing in something for temporary import/export, those are the huge challenges for something like an F1 circus because not many people do that,” Hembery said. “People don't tend to bring things in and take them out within a few days, they bring in and sell or whatever. So those are the things that are hard and they impact on your logistic structure because if there's no guarantee that you can get your equipment out then you have to buy extra equipment to cover for the fact something might be stuck there for a long time.

“So it's purely logistics. At the end of the day the more races you have the more value you create – ultimately – because you get more visibility. So we're not against doing more races, it just creates for everybody a practical human problem because people struggle with their natural lives so you might have to double up in some areas and create a duplication of roles, but you live with it. We're not against doing more races, that's for sure.”

However, Hembery said its concerning to see the likes of the Indian and Korean grands prix dropping off the calendar after only a few years and wants new races to be more likely to succeed.

“Personally I think if you have a doubt whether the fans will come then you have to go very close to the city centres or use street circuits because then they can't avoid you; you have to watch it because it's going to ruin your drive to work!

“It will be interesting to see what happens in Russia with Sochi. I think if you had asked anyone previously they would say they would love to have a backdrop of Red Square, The Kremlin and racing through there. That would have had a certain affect. Sochi – it has a name because of the Olympics of course – is going to be an interesting challenge to see whether that in itself can be successful.

“There are exceptions. Austin showed that you can get a whole city behind an event and not actually have the race actually in your city centre but they invested a lot of effort to make that happen. We saw Austria come back on the map and have an event that's full of the public, and that was in the middle of the mountains in the countryside. They managed to make that work.

“So there are exceptions, but maybe we need to look very carefully at how these new events are going to be sustainable going forward because I don't think it benefits anyone coming along for a couple of years and then disappearing. You need to build up some momentum and understand why if maybe the public isn't interested what needs to change to get them interested.”


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