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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

Sainz: F1 needs to rethink “overdone” weekend schedule

Formula 1 must rethink "repetitive" and "overpacked" weekend schedules amid the extra commitments facing drivers during the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix, reckons Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

To launch the Vegas race, which F1 has promoted itself at a cost of £355 million so far, an opening ceremony was held on the main straight on Thursday. Kylie Minogue and 30 Seconds To Mars were among the music acts.

Then, each teams' drivers were raised on platforms to be presented to the grandstand.

This special production followed Sainz, Lando Norris, Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly all taking part in a golfing competition on Wednesday as part of the newly created Netflix Cup.

Given the additions to the usual weekend schedule at the end of a 23-round calendar, Sainz believed the timetable could do with a rethink.

The Spaniard, who reckoned "weird" timings had prevented him from completing a track walk, said: "Looking into the future, sure we're going to need to reconsider a bit the way we go racing at the weekends because our schedules are getting busier and busier every year.

"The weekends are almost starting earlier, rather than starting later. We are adding races to the calendar and it's getting to a point where I think, sometimes, everything feels a bit repetitive, and everything feels a bit overpacked and we're trying maybe to overdo it a bit.

"There are things that I actually think they do a lot for the sport and it's good to put on a show and to make the sport better. Then, on the other hand, there are other things that feel very repetitive and almost don't add any more for the weekend."

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, during opening ceremony

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, during opening ceremony

Sainz did acknowledge that drivers are the "privileged ones" for flying to races privately or in business and first class, plus they get the "best hotels" and generally arrive at events later and leave earlier than their colleagues.

Norris added: "It's definitely more of a show now than what it was a few years ago. To be honest, I just want to come here and drive. I've never been the biggest fan of doing these types of things like we did earlier [opening ceremony]. It's not what I enjoy doing.

"I know a lot of this stuff is just part of it and I'm not saying anything against it… It's a business and all those things and that's how it has to run at the end of the day."

The FIA did tweak the media format midway through last season. At the start of 2022, all 20 drivers featured in press conferences that lasted for two hours on the Friday.

But amid complaints over the duration and quick turnaround before the practice sessions, F1 returned to its more conventional Thursday media day format whereby only half the grid was selected for the press conferences.

Fernando Alonso reckoned Vegas did merit "different treatment and a little bit of extra show" owing to the investment. However, he reckoned that to accommodate this, other duties needed to be cut from the schedule.

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