F1’s longer season has charged its workers and drivers

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is ​​wrapping up a single Formula 1 season. While the pandemic has forced the cancellation of many longtime races, the sport is scrambling to add new ones. When the checkered flag rolls down on Sunday, it will be Formula 1’s longest season.

Events scheduled in China, Canada, Singapore, Japan and Australia have been cancelled, but races have been added in Portugal, Turkey and Qatar, the host of the first Grand Prix. first in November.

Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said: “We can take home a calendar that will take us to 22 races this year, showing how strong the system is and how good the relationship is. beauty that we have all over the world”.

The record calendar, up from 21 races in 2019, is positive news for Formula 1 as it tries to recover from the impact of Covid-19. Sales soar, up 12% in third quarter, compared with the same period last year, but the longer season also affected teams. The Haas team said workers were laid off due to the increased workload and constant travel.

Gunther Steiner, Team principal Haas, said some of his staff had left to find work outside of Formula 1, in part because of the increasing schedule.

“Some people don’t want to stick to the 23-race schedule next year,” he said.

“One [engineer] just started a family, and he’s leaving. All in all, I would say we’ve had slightly more sales than in previous years, but not by much. ”

It’s not about getting easier. The calendar will grow again in 2022 because there are more Grand Prix Miami. 23 races are scheduled from March 20 to November 20. About a month has been cut from the season to avoid a clash with the FIFA World Cup. To accommodate that compressed schedule, races will be held on Sundays 11 times in a row, up from eight this season, giving teams less time to rest. Twice there will be events on three consecutive weekends.

Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal, said hosting more races in a shorter season would “make it even more intense between the first and last races”.

“But it’s positive to see how big the interest is in different countries,” he said. “We as a team are very interested in the commercial development of Formula 1”

However, senior officials remain aware of the cost of the schedule for team employees, including drivers.

Lando Norris McLaren says finding time to rest and recuperate between races is becoming “more difficult” as more and more Grands Prix is ​​added. He calls the number of tourism “one of the hardest”.

“It takes its toll on you,” he said. “We directly work less than mechanics and engineers. But our work is more physically demanding, and it’s still mentally draining, how much focus you have to put in, how much time and effort you spend thinking about all this and try to improve, etc.”

Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin warned that Formula 1 “must not ignore that we are a group of people and people traveling around the world.”

“If we have 52 weekends in a year, we do 23 of them races and [there are] some months of the year when we can’t hold races in most parts of the world [because of the weather], obviously it gives you a very intense season,” he said.

“The goal should be [that] we have a sustainable way to run our season, not only for the environment but also looking at human resources. ”

Teams are taking steps to ease the burden. Many allow people to miss some races to stay fresher in the season. Some teams offer financial incentives to work more races and book more comfortable hotels at the end of a long trip.

The expansion may also not stop at 23 races. Qatar and China have a contract to host a race starting in 2023, which would create a 25-race schedule, limited to Formula 1 regulations.

Franz Tost, principal of AlphaTauri, is concerned that the saturation of the races may also be too much for fans.

“I think Formula 1 will lose a bit [of] the high end market, because if there’s a race every weekend, people lose interest,” he said.

“This is what worries me more: not because of the workload, but because people are overloaded with races.”

Frédéric Vasseur, captain of Alfa Romeo, said the potential 25-race calendar should be seen as “a positive thing first, because it means Formula 1 is doing well and awareness of F1 is improving. good.”

“We have to take care that the fans won’t lose motivation,” he said. “That’s the important thing. But for the team, I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal.”

Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo will retire from Formula 1 this weekend, ending a career spanning 20 years. When he made his debut in 2001, the calendar featured only 17 races, most of which were in Europe.

Raikkonen, 42, said the growing calendar was not a factor in his decision to retire. But he has urged caution about its impact on those working in Formula 1.

“They’re doing long days, especially if there’s a problem with the car,” he said. At the race in Mexico, he said, “they worked overnight. It’s hard for them.”

“It’s going to burn a lot of people, and it’s not going to be good for anyone,” Raikkonen said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/09/sports/autoracing/f1-schedule.html F1’s longer season has charged its workers and drivers

Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: ollydawes@24ssports.com.

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