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F1 at the limit with 24-race calendar, say team bosses

Formula 1 team bosses agree that the 24 events scheduled for next season represent a limit as they try to juggle staff-rotation policies.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

The 2023 calendar was originally announced with 24 races before the Chinese GP was dropped due to the lingering effects of COVID-19.

The Emilia Romagna GP was cancelled at the last-minute due to flooding but many team members were already in Italy or on their way, so in effect they worked 23 weekends even if the Imola race didn’t take place.

The Shanghai event is back on the calendar for 2024 and thus with no other changes the sport will tackle 24 events for the first time.

“I think 24 is the limit,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown when asked by Motorsport.com about next year’s schedule. “Stefano [Domenicali] is going to set it as such.

“There's a demand for probably 30 grands prix. So I'd like to see a day where you have 24 grands prix, but in order to embrace more markets, maybe you have 20 fixed grands prix and eight rotational so you're in 28 markets 24 times a year. 

"I think that would be a great way to keep the calendar where it is but yet still have calendar growth.

“And the schedule has definitely been improved from a logistics point of view, and it's not easy, because each territory has a reason why they want something on a certain date or there's other events or holidays, things of that nature. So it's top of mind for all of us and I have no doubt it'll just continue to improve.”

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, on the pit wall

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, on the pit wall

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Aston Martin’s Mike Krack stressed that teams have to ensure that there is no staff burnout by rotating people between events.

“The 24 races has been debated a lot,” said Krack. “We have also the double headers, the triple headers.

“I think, all in all, it is probably not far from the limit of what we can do or what we can accept. But I think it is down to the teams to find ways of making this sustainable for their employees.

“I think all the teams do that, discuss that, try to find solutions. But again, it shows the strength of the sport, and it is something that we have all agreed to. And now we have to find ways of making it happen in a sustainable way for everybody.”

Williams boss James Vowles agreed that rotating staff efficiently is now a key strategy for all teams.

“It's an optimisation problem,” he noted. “Clearly, we can't just keep throwing the same people at it. We have to rethink, almost to a certain extent, how we are running racing organisations.

“But there are racing series that are doing 32 or more weekends a year. It's just an optimisation problem. How do we make a life that is sustainable for everyone whilst continuing to perform?”

Ferrari’s Fred Vasseur confirmed that the Italian team will encourage more rotation next year, while agreeing that the number of races reflects F1’s current success.

"The life is much easier for me than for the mechanics,” said the Frenchman. “First of all we have to keep this in mind, that if someone could complain, it's more the mechanics than the team principals. For them we are trying to start rotation, and to have this kind of story.

“But I would also try to avoid being arrogant. Five years ago we were fighting to find 16 or 17 promoters keen to do the races. Today we have a huge success, and I would avoid to say, ‘No, I want to stay at home next weekend. I have a barbecue with my wife!’

“You can always say 24. It's more than 23 and less than 25. And I don't know what is the right number, but I have the feeling that it's pretty well balanced.

“For sure, we need to have a kind of rotation for the guys, because again, I'm coming on track on Thursday, I'm leaving on Sunday evening, when the guys are coming on Monday, Tuesday and leaving on Monday, it's not the same life. For me it's okay. For them, we will put in place the rotation."

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