Why a 2020/2021 "superseason" isn't that great an idea
With yet more of the 2020 F1 calendar falling away due to the COVID-19 virus, attempts are being made to salvage what is left of the season. One solution gaining traction amongst F1's fanbase is to make this year's championship part of the 2021 season.
On the face of it, this seems like a solid idea. At the time of writing, the 2020 season is due to start in Montreal - originally round nine of the 22 race championship. There is however, absolutely no certainty as to whether the Canadian Grand Prix will take place, and with this year's calendar looking increasingly thin, combining it with the 2021 season looks more and more favourable.
The advantages of a so-called "superseason" are obvious. This year's cancelled races would still be a part of the world championship, albeit holding one fewer event than other venues. Furthermore, given the announcement that teams will use their 2020 car chassis in 2021, it makes sense from a sporting perspective that each world championship is contested by different cars. Using the same car for multiple seasons is not unknown in Formula One, with such a phenomenon most recently occurring in 2015 with Manor running their season in a revised Marussia from 2014. This is, however, an exception to a general trend in the sport where teams compete each season using different cars.
For some fans, a superseason would entice an exciting endurance spectacle for the teams & drivers, and regulation stability might result in a closely fought 30 or so race championship with an arguably more deserving winner than ever before. A superseason also seems like an elegantly simple solution to the complexities of rescheduling postponed rounds. This simplicity, incidentally, is also why it won't work.
Not one driver in this picture is contracted to their team for 2021.
Whilst a superseason would solve the calendar and scheduling problems F1 currently faces, it would cause a number of other issues. For starters, driver and circuit contracts are based on Formula One having one season per year. Over half of the 2020 grid is out of contract with their team at the end of the year. Would it mean an inundation of mid-season driver swaps between Abu Dhabi 2020 and Australia 2021? Maybe, although teams would likely prefer to extend their existing contracts with drivers through to the end of a superseason for the sake of simplicity. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is known to have a one year deal applying to 2020 only. Would it be allowed to host a round of a multi-year calendar? Resolving the agreements F1 has with its circuits, broadcasters and partners may prove too difficult or undesirable to those in charge of the sport.
An F1 superseason also ignores the series' feeder categories. It would make sense for Formula 2 and Formula 3 to follow the main series and provide support races at its typical venues throughout the superseason. This however would be not be well received by F2 and F3's teams, who rely significantly on financial contributions from their drivers in order to compete. For this reason, mid-season driver changes are considerably more common in junior categories than in F1. By combining the two seasons, payment disputes could arise. Teams will require the funding to bear the cost of the shortened 2020 year along with the full 2021 season, but drivers may not be willing or able to provide a budget for two seasons' racing.
2011 saw an impressive title victory for Vettel - but it was hardly a classic of a season.
Fans may also want to consider whether they want a superseason at all. A 30 round championship does sound exciting at first, but there is no reason why one team or driver won't dominate the whole season. What F1 hardly wants is for a driver to wrap up the title with four rounds of the championship to go - as Vettel managed in the 19 race 2011 season. Furthermore, some fans may hope for F1 to reschedule some of 2020's postponed rounds into the winter break between this and next year. Its a happy thought that racing may continue through the winter, but don't expect it to happen. Why would China's Shanghai International Circuit expect ticket revenue from spectators for a race in January, and then expect the same revenue again just three months later?
A superseason may therefore not be so desirable. F1 is an incredibly complex sport and so simpler solutions such as these will often only cause more problems. For now though, it is a simple game of staying indoors and waiting for the virus' eradication so that motorsport can safely resume.