Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel voiced his concerns over long race calendars and their effect on the sport and its personnel. During the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, the Aston Martin driver expressed his concern about F1 losing its uniqueness amidst the monotony of too many races.
With a 23-race calendar scheduled for the 2022 season, the workload looming before the the teams and their personnel has sparked diverse opinions in the F1 paddock. Speaking to motorsport.com, Vettel said:
“This is only my opinion and it's not worth anything, but I think we should not have that many races.”
Vettel expressed his concerns about the sport losing its uniqueness with a prolonged calendar, saying:
“It’s for a number of reasons. I think one, maybe it's too many races for the people to watch. It's not special any more, if there's that many.”
While F1 has earned its title of being the pinnacle of motorsport, longer calendars and too many races bring it more in line with NASCAR. America's most popular form of motorsport has 38 races scheduled over a span of 10 months. In the case of F1, too many races could make it lose its identity and become a rigorous affair for the viewer, resulting in a loss of steady continuous viewership.
Vettel fears long calendars could overstress team personnel
Expressing another reason why he felt that too many races might not be the way forward, Vettel said:
“I feel for [the staff]. Us drivers, we are at the good side of things: we can arrive on a Wednesday night and leave if we find a flight etcetera on a Sunday night. But the team already has a lot more stress.”
Explaining the rigorous hours of a race weekend for team personnel, Vettel said:
“They arrive Monday or Saturday the week before, they build the garage, prepare the cars, and then also they have to run the full week and then pack down, send everything back, and prepare back in the factory.”
Citing the hectic routines for team staff with a 23-race calendar, he empathized with the toll that it would take on their lives beyond the sport. Vettel said:
“For them, it's a job that you're busy all weekdays and nearly every weekend, so you have no time for yourself.”
Often, a hectic season with many races can have ramifications on the personal and family lives of many who work in F1. Understanding the need for a life outside the sport, Vettel asserted:
“And I think we are in a time where people are growing more and more conscious that they have a life too, and that the life doesn't belong to the employer.”
The monotony of the 2022 calendar, which comprises six doubleheaders and two tripleheaders in its race schedule spanning nine months, could cause considerable stress to many. For team personnel who work at the races, this could mean choosing a less stressful role within the team, leaving the sport, or even contemplating alternate careers.
“I'm not in charge and obviously, there's some other interests, but it’s just making sure that people have a balance between their life at home and the time spent away, I think it should be a number of races that is sustainable for keeping your passion for many years and not being, you know, sucked out after two or three years.”
While F1’s calendar for 2022 has been confirmed, teams are considering having their staff work in shifts. With budget caps in place, rotating staff could also prove to be an expensive affair, and it still might not relieve key team members whose presence at every race is vital to the team's functioning.
Vettel’s concerns about the ramifications a long calendar would have are certainly valid. The larger number of flyaway races on the 2022 calendar compared to 2021 will only add to the fatigue experienced by team staff and paddock personnel whose presence at every race is mandatory.