NFL Draft prompts F1 off-season rethink

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NFL Draft prompts F1 off-season rethink
Jonathan Noble
By: Jonathan Noble
May 5, 2018, 1:56 PM

Formula 1 chiefs says the success of the NFL Draft is prompting them to think of ways to spice up grand prix racing's off-season.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer, and the rest of the field after a restart
Chase Carey, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman of the Formula One Group
Chase Carey, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman of the Formula One Group and Ross Brawn, Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18, leads Lance Stroll, Williams FW41 Mercedes, Sergio Perez, Force India VJM11 Mercedes, Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18, Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 Renault, and the remainder of the field at the start
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H leads at the start of the race
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, at the start of the race
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, leads Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H, and Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM11 Mercedes, at the start

With F1's current calendar running from March to November, the sport has always suffered from a big fall in popularity during the winter months when there is nothing to engage fans.

F1's new owners Liberty Media are keen to address this issue and are considering a range of ideas – from competitions involving teams or drivers to larger bespoke festival events.

Chase Carey, who is F1's chairman, says inspiration from the idea has come from the NFL Draft – which is a hugely popular annual event during American football's off-season which serves as the league's most common source of player recruitment.

Speaking at a promotional event ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Carey said: "One of the ambitions we have is to figure out how we make this sport something that engages the fans 12 months a year. But it doesn't mean we will race [that long]: our season is not going to go 12 months.

"One example would be the NFL, which is not playing right now but they just had the NFL Draft. That is a big event. They have created events that are interesting for fans even when they are not in the season.

"So I think for us, we would like to determine – how do we create more interesting things for fans, whether it is unique competition or unique events, or things that are around the sport that continue to build interest and enable fans to engage more?"

Carey believes it would be wrong to lengthen the F1 calendar to make the winter shorter, and he also think that the sport should not do anything that takes attention away from its main schedule.

"The 21 races that we have will always be the highest profile, but we think we can do other things that enable fans to connect with the sport," he said.

"We have a pretty full season – our season goes from March to the end of November so it is a long season, and we have to recognise that there is a lot of wear and tear on that season.

"But I would say we think it would be a good thing to find ways to engage fans in the sport. It may not be a competition on track, it may be other aspects of the sport, but there are some unique ideas for various forms of competition that we are engaged with and talking to various parties about."

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
Article type Breaking news