F1 calendar could expand to 22 races in 2020

The start of the Spanish Grand Prix

The Formula 1 calendar could expand to a 22-race schedule as early as 2020, despite previous claims that next year's calendar will again feature 21 events.

Formula 1 has already confirmed that the Netherlands will return after a 35-year absence while the championship will visit Vietnam for the first time.

Five events on the 2019 calendar had expiring contracts but Britain completed a new deal, Italy has reached an agreement in principle while Mexico is also expected to stay.

That ostensibly left Spain and Germany as the two grands prix that were likely to be dropped.

On Friday a Catalan publication claimed that the local government has given the green light regarding funding for a one-year contract extension at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Officials at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya confirmed that “no agreement has been reached yet” with Formula 1 but that “negotiations for the renewal are still open.”

Should a one-year extension be reached, and both Vietnam and the Netherlands get ready in time, that would result in a record-breaking 22-event calendar.

It is understood that Formula 1 owners Liberty Media have already told teams that the calendar will not expand beyond 21 events, but that is open to being changed, should an agreement be reached.

On Friday, McLaren chief Zak Brown confirmed that “if we go to 22 races Liberty needs to ask, I think it’s four teams, if I’m not mistaken, I know we would be one of them.

“I think they would just have to put the schedule together in a way that it was logistically possible.

“If it won’t be possible for us it won’t be possible for anyone else and if it’s possible for others then it’ll have to be possible for us.

“It’s a lot of races right now, 21, 22, but if they come out with a 22-race calendar and logistically it makes sense then we would support it.”

When pressed on the potential for a 22-event schedule in 2020 Brown said: “I think we’ll definitely be doing 21 races next year. I think it’s more a question of are we going to do 21 or 22.

“I don’t know if we’re going to be back here [in Germany]. So Vietnam and Holland puts you to 22… yeah. We could be 22 next year. It’s an active discussion on how many races for next year.”

Only Australia, on March 15, has a confirmed date for 2020.

Bahrain is expected to follow two weeks later, as per 2019, with China and Vietnam in April, prompting Baku to switch to a likely June date at the behest of race organisers.