There was no time to discuss the Concorde Agreement in Bahrain, as everyone had other more pressing matters on their minds, but I am hearing that Bernie Ecclestone is planning to try to negotiate an increase in the number of races on the calendar in the next agreement.
At the moment there are a number of restrictions placed on the Commercial Rights Holder (CRH) when it comes to the events. He cannot, for example, reduce the winter break unless they are more races (ie earning opportunities) for the teams. Thus he can have up to 20 races, but must still allow for a 12 week break. He must also allow for a three week break in August.
At the moment the maximum number of races allowed is 20, but the CRH must include six events from a list of 12 countries. The list of these protected entities is believed to include Abu Dhabi/Bahrain, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.
In addition team consent is required if there are more than 17 races and at least half the races must be held in Europe and the United States.
From what I am hearing the plan is to increase the basic number of races to 20 and allow for another possible four. This will mean higher travel costs for the teams but more paydays. The costs can be reduced somewhat with the intelligent twinning of race meetings. This year there are a series of back-to-back races so that transportation costs are minimised.
Teams have been opposed to having more than 20 races because they believe it will require two separate race teams in order to relieve the pressure on their staff. NASCAR uses such a system because it has 36 championship races and five non-championship events. The scale of the travel in NASCAR is, however, far less than is necessary in F1 and most teams have their own planes in order to ease the hassle involved. While this may be possible for the biggest teams, it will mean that the smaller teams will be more stretched as they will have to do the whole calendar without staff alternation.
There is little doubt that F1 could probably find 24 promoters willing to pay the fees involved and that would mean additional fee revenues of $160 million or more. With new technology available the need for a travelling TV circus will probably reduce, but an increase in the number of races would result in fewer media organisations being able to justify the travel. The number of publications that have a representative at each race seems to be reducing in recent years.
The increase in the number of races would also mean an increase in the cost of TV rights, and thus bigger profits for the CRH.