Increasing intensity of calendar calls for balance


Assuming the pandemic continues on a downward path, the 2022 F1 calendar will feature 23 races, the most in the sport's history.

Of course, that was the plan this year but due to the pandemic a number of races have been cancelled again and as a result we are currently looking at a 22-race schedule, assuming that, as expected, Qatar fills the 21 November slot.

While more races means more money, the enormous strain put on terms, particularly personnel, means that they are conflicted.

There has been talk of reducing the amount of races and thereby demanding more in race fees due to exclusivity, but as yet teams are still facing a heavy schedule featuring a number of the dreaded triple-headers.

"It is a gruelling calendar," admits Christian Horner. "Like in any sport, the thirst and demand for Formula 1 is what it is and it is always trying to measure that balance.

"I'm sure we could have 35 races if the promoter got his way," he added. "It's finding that balance between not needing to have to have, effectively, two crews, that you can do it manageably with one crew to do an entire season.

"It's gruelling, it's demanding and particularly through these COVID times, with the calendar changing and triple-headers coming in and you look at the logistics of part of the tour later on with Brazil, Mexico and then to the Middle East... it's tough. It really is tough.

"I think the way all of the teams have dealt with that has been phenomenal and we are certainly not getting people saying 'I don't want to be at a race'.

"It's balancing that. If you look back 15 years or even 20 years and you look at the amount of testing that used to take place in between the events and the amount of time that engineers, technicians, drivers would be sitting in a grand prix car between events, it's significantly different now.

"But it's always a matter of getting that ratio right and geographically getting that calendar with balance in it."

"I think we have the best man in charge to balance between income and workload, with Stefano," said Toto Wolff. "On the other side he has been running a team and he knows the strain on the people and that strain is enormous, particularly on the mechanics that need to be there much earlier, take the garage down, not always travel as comfortably as all of us and that needs to be taken into consideration.

"We have a rotational scheme in there to take some of the pressure off," he revealed, "but I believe that maybe we can come up with some innovative thinking and make rotation mandatory if it is within what we can afford.

"We have a lot of young engineers in every area that are not yet on the battlefield life, because there is a senior there who is the best in the group, but maybe that's an opportunity to actually put them in the hot seat and put a ceiling onto the race attendance.

"Maybe we do it at 20 races and there are three races where you need to bring someone else.

"Obviously the devil lies in the detail," he admitted. "But similarly what I've said before on young drivers that could be an attempt to reduce the strain, particularly on the mechanics, all the people that work in logistics and the engineers."

"The idea that Toto mentioned I think we have brought up two years," said Andreas Seidl, "but unfortunately there was no enough support from the teams. S hopefully with the calendar we have in place now there is a chance to discuss again the topic because that's something we could also definitely support from our side.

"In terms of race calendar, I think from our side, Zak and myself have made clear what we think should happen moving forward. Regarding let's say having the right balance between the commercial interests that we all have and regarding the workload we can put on our people.

"We think a calendar moving forward which is focusing more on exclusivity and quality, with around 20 races per year, and maybe have some races in there that rotate from year to year, so in order to be also available for new markets and so on would be the right balance.

"As Toto said, I think with Stefano we have the right man in charge to work out the right balance there. I know personally also Stefano as a man of the people as well, from the past when I was dealing with him. He is in charge of a lot of people as well, so I hope he considers that as well and I am confident that we will find the right balance in the future."

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Published: 28/09/2021
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