The 2023 F1 season is going to have as many as 24-races! The number of races has been steadily increasing over the years, with Liberty Media fielding interest from numerous suitors. Even this season, we have 22 races and it could have been 23 had Russia not been canceled because of the Russo-Ukrainian war.
Having said that, the announcement of the 24-race F1 season has been met with trepidation from quite a few corners. It's not just the media but the fans as well who feel the numbers are getting out of hand now. With the sport growing at an impressive rate and fielding interest from multiple nations, a 24-race calendar was almost an eventuality.
Having said that, what kind of impact are we expecting on the sport from the 24-race calendar? Let's take a look!
#1 Entry into new markets
More races mean more venues, which means penetration into more markets, and ultimately making the sport more mainstream. If the sport is more mainstream, it could mean bigger exposure and social profiles for the drivers. Bigger exposure means bigger revenue. F1 is aiming to start competing with other sports in the future, and the 24-race calendar is just what is needed for that.
There have been fears amongst fans that the product could get diluted if the number keeps on increasing. Having said that, F1 is still a business and it will run like one. If there are avenues that yield more capital, the sport will explore them for sure.
#2 Championship comebacks could become tougher
A 24-race F1 season means the calendar will be filled with double and triple headers. These double- and triple-headers usually don't leave much time for a break or to regroup. Had a bad race this weekend? All you can do is shrug it off, try to analyze it to the best of your capability in a limited time frame, and get ready for the next one.
In a close title battle where momentum is everything, once the protagonist gets on a roll it will be tough to hold them down. In a championship with multiple double- and triple-headers, this could become a more prominent pattern over time.
Championship comebacks require time to recoil, think, assess, and then make changes. In a season where you're always pushing, the key elements of a championship comeback can become much tougher.
#3 Records will tumble
As the sport grows, this tends to happen anyway. Lewis Hamilton holding most of the driver records in F1 is also a consequence of him racing in an era where there were more races in a season. Next up, Max Verstappen is only 24 years of age and finds himself on the list of top-10 race winners in F1 history.
With close to 23-24 races a season, if Verstappen continues to have a competitive Red Bull under him, records will tumble. The Dutch driver is already on his way to breaking a few this season, with many more expected to be broken in the coming years.
#4 F1 driver burnout will be a real issue
Not many people understand the kind of stress that goes into a season like the one from 2021. Max Verstappen's battle against Lewis Hamilton drained the former so much that he admitted he would not be able to continue for long in the sport if he had to do it again.
Drivers like Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have been able to stick around the sport for this long because of a lack of stress as well. Alonso has not been a part of a stressful championship battle since the 2012 F1 season. Hamilton has had three championships in eight seasons that went down to the wire (2014, 2016, and 2021).
Hamilton enjoyed a considerable advantage in machinery and hence the straightforward title wins were less stressful. Imagine him having a season similar to 2021 every time he fought for the title. Would he have survived this long? Eight stressful years where driver skills are the determinant factor is bad for mental health as well.
Drivers like Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, George Russell, and others will not have the privilege to do that. The new generation of F1 is expected to have a converged field with smaller gaps within the teams. Having close to 23-24 races in a converged field will make a season more taxing and the debate on driver burnout could come to the forefront.
#5 The F1-related jobs while lucrative could have bigger attrition numbers
With an increase in revenue, jobs around the sport are only going to become more lucrative. While the money will improve, the working conditions are going to yield bigger attrition numbers.
Media representatives made their displeasure public when the 24-race calendar was announced. Traveling to 24-races is cumbersome in a nine-month window (the season runs from March to November), and there's no debate on that front. In a world where the term 'work-life balance' is thrown around often, this is going to be a big concern.
While we do talk about driver burnout, burnout for the people covering the sport is a reality as well. While there will be many that will adapt just like any other challenge in a job, there will be others that won't. Expect attrition numbers to jump in F1-related jobs as the calendar becomes more and more exhausting.