F1 programme presents potentially gruelling test for teams

Disquiet as two triple-headers and a record-breaking 23 races in 2022 announced

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team team principal Toto Wolff says  F1 and the FIA should mandate staff rotation to force teams to give personnel time away from the pressure on their physical and mental health. Photograph: Andrea Diodato/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team team principal Toto Wolff says F1 and the FIA should mandate staff rotation to force teams to give personnel time away from the pressure on their physical and mental health. Photograph: Andrea Diodato/NurPhoto via Getty Images

 

Formula One has confirmed its calendar for 2022, with a record-breaking 23 races planned. The programme presents a potentially gruelling test for the teams, with one more race than this year but running across a shorter period and including two triple-headers.

The calendar was ratified by the World Motor Sport Council on Friday. It will open in Bahrain on March 20th and conclude in Abu Dhabi on November 20th, a 36-week period. This year the season will finish in Abu Dhabi on December 12th but F1 wanted to avoid its 2022 season finale clashing with the World Cup, which will begin in Qatar on November 21st.

Miami will host its first race while China will once more not feature because of coronavirus restrictions, with Imola on the schedule to replace it. Australia, Japan, Canada and Singapore are set to return having missed the past two seasons because of the pandemic. The British GP will be held at Silverstone on July 3rd. The two triple-headers are Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, followed by Russia, Singapore and Japan.

Demands

The teams have agreed to the calendar and were aware of the demands it will place on their personnel when they did so. In 2018, when F1 held its first triple-header, opinion in the paddock was almost unanimous that the strain it placed on engineers, mechanics and crew, who regularly work 12-14-hour days, was unacceptable and should not be repeated. It was not in 2019 but, to complete a season after the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, triple-headers were accepted and again this year in order to hold 22 races.

However, disquiet at further triple-headers is clear. Last week the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, said he believed F1 and the FIA should mandate staff rotation to force teams to give their personnel time away from the pressure on their physical and mental health. If it was a requirement of the teams, the financial burden would be the same across the paddock and eliminate the chance of a team opting not to do so in order to save money.

“Twenty-three races, with triple-headers, takes a toll,” he said. “Now you can adopt the old-style mentality and say: ‘Well, be happy that you are in F1 and, if you can’t cope, do something else,’ which is contrary to how I operate. We need an environment where it becomes sustainable.”

Critical

McLaren’s team principal, Andreas Seidl, was equally critical after F1 completed a triple-header in September. “The most important thing is that we don’t further increase the number of races per year,” he said. “What we have in place now is already too much of a burden that we put on our people. We should avoid triple-headers.”

This week the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, insisted the sport could cope. “You could go to Formula Two and do 12 races and earn half the money,” he said. “It is manageable if we are going to the right venues in the right order around the world.”

– Guardian

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