Start, Zandvoort, 2021

McLaren urge F1 to stop scheduling ‘triple-header’ race weekends

2022 F1 calendar

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has urged Formula 1 to avoid scheduling any ‘triple-header’ race weekends on next season’s calendar.

Running three consecutive grand prix weekends places a significant burden on Formula 1 staff. The series held its first triple-header in 2018, but following complaints from teams did not do so again in 2019.

However the pressure on the schedule created by the pandemic led to four triple-headers being scheduled last season. This weekend F1 will conclude its second triple-header of the current season and a third is planned before the end of the year.

The 2021 F1 calendar was originally due to feature 23 races but has been shortened to 22 following cancellations due to the pandemic. Seidl urged F1 not to further expand the calendar in 2022 and avoid any triple-headers.

“The most important thing for my point of view is obviously that we don’t further increase the number of races a year,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “I think what we have in place now is already too much in terms of the burden on our people.

“And then a very important topic is also the number of triple-headers. From my point of view, we should avoid completely again, to reduce the burden on our people, the triple-headers on the calendar. We should try to get through avoiding any triple-headers, to be honest.”

Formula 1 will add a second race in the United States next year. However its new race in Miami is due to take place in May, several months before the series’ usual visit to Texas for the event at Circuit of the Americas.

Seidl believes F1 should also look at grouping races in nearby regions together to reduce its travel costs and carbon footprint. He said this is a factor F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is considering.

“It’s obviously very important for us but I know from Stefano as well it’s very important for Stefano,” he said. “He has put up a clear agenda of what he wants to achieve with Formula 1 until 2030 and a huge part of that is also the logistics side of things. So we know from Stephano he is looking into this.”

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35 comments on “McLaren urge F1 to stop scheduling ‘triple-header’ race weekends”

  1. I think while Covid concerns remain, triple-headers are inevitable. It is neither desirable nor safe to have F1 personnel hopping back and forth to Plague Island in between F1 events.

    If there was a two-week gap between Zandvoort and Monza, for example, any F1 folk returning to the UK would have to quarantine for five days upon arrival in Italy, even if double vaccinated. That just doesn’t make sense logistically – far better to keep staff on the road than complicate matters with multiple testing/quarantine regimes.

    We absolutely should not underestimate the toll that these arrangements have on people working in F1, and hopefully they will not be a permanent fixture, but for now I think they are a necessary evil.

    1. @red-andy as an aside, although you mock it as “plague island”, per head of population, the rate of infection in the UK per 1 million inhabitants is 105,650: by comparison, the rate of infection in Belgium per 1 million inhabitants is 103,840, whilst for the Netherlands it is 112,100. In terms of the proportion of the population that is currently infected, the UK is not really any worse than the two countries that F1 has just visited.

      I would also point out that, whilst covid-19 is cited as the justification for triple headers, the sport was already starting to use triple header weekends in 2018 (France, Austria and the UK were all back to back that year) – this was a concept that was already being tested before covid-19 entered the picture.

      You also have to bear in mind that Liberty Media has been repeatedly trying to extend the calendar to 23 races per season (with their commercial agreements with the teams permitting up to 25 races a year): had their original plans worked out, we would have had a 23 race calendar this season.

      Allowing for the loss of a fortnight for the “summer shutdown” in the middle of the year, the season is now running to about 40 weeks in length – if you have 23 races per season, that’s a race roughly every 1.7 weeks.

      We’ve already seen the number of double header races creeping upwards, with 3 double headers in the calendar for a 21 race calendar back in 2018. Even though the 21 race calendar for 2018 was about two weeks shorter than the 2021 calendar was planned to be, the additional two races actually forces the average gap between races down by more (it was 1.8 weeks between races in 2018, but would have been 1.7 weeks between races in 2021).

      It is possible to fit 23 races into a 40 week period without using triple headers, but I think you would have to double the number of double header races to 6 per season for that to work. A triple header might not be the only option, but the plans for a 23 race calendar means the odds of one triple header appearing is increasing – it’s either that or having more double headers, and I don’t know if that is that much of a better option either.

      1. @anon
        The infection rate is only a number not easy to compare. The number of tests done is of an huge influence.
        To put numbers in perspective looking a the death rate per million in the last 7 days is a better tool.
        For the UK it’s about 11, for Belgium is about 3,5.
        The Netherlands 0.

        1. Here’s a great stat you’ll love… “Plahue Island” has won the F1 WDC 20 times over 10 Drivers compared to zero for the Netherlands and zero for Belgium (one may be pending in 2021). You can have that one for free 👍🇬🇧

      2. @anon Triple-headers were tried in 2018… …and deemed a total failure.

        1. @alianora-la-canta I have not said that they have to implement a triple header or that it is a good idea to implement a triple header (I would say it is not a good idea).

          However, Liberty Media’s expansion of the calendar is creating increased pressure to shorten the period between races. Looking ahead to 2022, we already have 18 races confirmed and four other races – Monaco, Abu Dhabi, Austria and the USA (in the form of COTA) – which are almost certainly going to be renewed, creating a season of 22 races (i.e. the same length as this year).

          We also know we were meant to have a 23 race calendar in 2021, and in late 2020 Carey confirmed that Liberty Media want to expand to 24 races a season in the next couple of years. However, there is only so far that the season can be lengthened, and we are probably getting close to the limit of what can be done on that front – teams are unlikely to want the calendar to extend beyond mid-December, and early March seems to be the earliest practical start date when taking into account the time needed to produce a new car and to then prepare everything for the first race of the season.

          An increasing number of double headers can be implemented, but if there are a rising number of flyaway races, there will be limits on the number of double headers that can be practically implemented. Those differing pressures means that, even if triple headers are looked at in a rather negative light, the expansion of the calendar is creating pressure on teams to consider a triple header as a “necessary evil” for that many races to take place per season.

      3. That’s a useless metric. The issue is infection rates right now. UK is one of the highest in Europe with 371 cases per 100k per week. Belgium is indeed also very high at 122 per 100k. Even that high number is only a third of the UK infection rates though. Italy was at 68 per 100k so it’s currently so much safer for F1 people to go there rather than the UK.

      4. Coventry Climax
        8th September 2021, 0:20

        I have no idea where you get your data from, but may I suggest you take a look at this:

        and you will see numbers quite different from what you say, and they also quite justify ‘Plague Island’.

        1. Coventry Climax
          8th September 2021, 0:21

    2. @red-andy Unfortunately, team crew have to return to the UK in the middle of triple-headers anyway, simply to get laundry washed (they typically don’t stay in a single country long enough to get their full clothing packs washed). Unless F1 is OK with paying staff extra luggage allowance, even COVID doesn’t help justify triple-headers because they still have to be done in two stints.

      1. Laundry can and has been done on the road. Some hotels have Laundry service (Pre-covid at least) Teams can send personnel team kits with the containers or trucks. I don’t think laundry is much of the problem. No matter how much you love what you are doing, pushing it to burnout is not a good idea, particularly when a little “miss” can cost a life. I think Seidl is more likely talking about that. With cost cap forbidding rotating two or more crew…..

        1. It’s not just Laundry, it’s minor but still cost money. It’s more about all the logistics costs to keep the entire office functioning on the road between venues. Most of the engineers fly back to the office to work with the rest of the team at HQ for a ton of de-brief meetings and then a pile of briefing meetings for next race, then load all that data into the computers, take a couple of last minute upgrades with them and hop on plane to next venue. Even if it’s only for a day or two, they’ll still do it. The costs are massive and very draining on staff traveling like that; they only have so much bandwidth.

    3. @red-andy In yout haste to type a comment on the internet you have completely missed the point.

  2. I get why they did these last two years the triple-headers, but it’s not difficult to avoid having them in a more ‘stable’ 2022. Based on what we know so far a possible calendar could look like this:

    1. Mar 19 : Bahrain
    2. Mar 26 : Saudi Arabia
    3. Apr 9 : Australia
    4. Apr 23 : China
    5. May 7 : Nethelands
    6. May 14 : Monaco
    7. May 28 : USA (Miami)
    8. Jun 4 : Canada
    9. Jun 18 : Azerbaijan
    10. Jun 25 : France
    11. Jul 9 : Austria
    12. Jul 16 : Great Britain
    13. Jul 30 : Hungary
    —– {summer break}
    14. Aug 27 : Belgium
    15. Sep 3 : Italy
    16. Sep 17 : Russia
    17. Sep 24 : Singapore
    18. Oct 8 : Japan
    19. Oct 22 : USA (Austin)
    20. Oct 29 : Mexico
    21. Nov 12 : Brazil
    22. Nov 26 : Abu Dhabi

    Plus this calendar leaves some space to add a 23rd extra race (hopefully in Portugal – but based on what we know about Liberty most likely Qatar, or Kuwait…)

    1. @black Firstly, Azerbaijan and France on consecutive weekends is a no-go because teams use trucks for the latter, but not the former.
      Holding a race seven days before Monaco, I doubt, because Thursday is practice day.
      Why should Melbourne take place three weeks after SA when two is enough or Singapore seven days after Russia rather than the same amount before Japan? BTW, you’ve listed Saturdays rather than Sundays.

      1. @jerejj
        • Ok so swap France and Azerbaijan… or leave Azerbajain as stand alone (Jun 19) and pair France-Austria (Jul 3-10) and Britain-Hungary (Jul 24-31)
        • Pair Australia-China (Apr 10-17), then Netherlands (May 1) and 2 weeks later as stand alone Monaco (May 15) if there is a problem
        • Australia is 2 weeks after Saudi Arabia, not 3 (Mar 27 until Apr 10 is 14 days)
        • Singapore and Russia, although far away, took place as back-to-back in 2019. You can swap it and put Russia as stand alone (Sep 18) and pair Singapore-Japan (Oct 2-9), it doesn’t really matter…

        Yeah I listed the Saturdays by mistake… so all the dates above must be +1 :P
        Basically the skeleton of the calendar can look like this.. with a few ajustments here and there.

        1. @black Shanghai can’t take place on consecutive weekends with any circuit for China’s custom logistics AFAIA.
          Just because Singapore and Russia were back-to-back in 2019 doesn’t mean they’d have to again.
          Singapore and Japan should’ve been paired, also in 2018, whenever no other Far East/Southeast Asia race has been close in the schedule.

          1. @jerejj

            Shanghai can’t take place on consecutive weekends with any circuit for China’s custom logistics AFAIA.

            Well that’s strange because since its debut, Shanghai has taken place 10 times as a back-to-back weekend with another race, either with Bahrain (2012,2013,2015,2018), or with Malaysia (2011), or Japan (2005-2008).

          2. @black Also strange to me when I first saw this reference, so I guess China’s custom logistics changed since the most recent Bahrain double.

      2. @jerejj Azerbaijan works if France goes first and arrangements were made to transport the cars from Marseilles to Azerbaijan by plane. With enough forward planning, that’s viable.

        1. @alianora-la-canta Azerbaijan GP is a freight event.
          A user on who works in F1 elaborated on this matter earlier this year as I had been pushing/wishing for a Baku-Hungaroring or Red Bull Ring pairing instead of Montreal.
          Holding a truck event and non-truck (i.e., freight) one on consecutive weekends is off for logistical reasons.
          For reference, the username is Naysayer.
          I trust him since he works in F1, albeit I don’t know in what capacity.

    2. If we are talking about logistics, then the obvious answer to that would be, ideally combining the races on continent seasonally. This is probably not that realistic a calendar but then again what’s the harm in sharing it?

      1. USA (Miami) (February 19)
      2. Australia (March 5)
      3. Singapore (March 12)
      4. Bahrain (March 26)
      5. Saudi Arabia (April 2)
      6. China (April 16)
      7. Japan (April 23)
      8. Azerbaijan (May 7)
      9. Portugal (May 14)
      10. Monaco (May 28)
      11. Russia (June 11)
      12. France (June 25)
      13. Holland (July 2)
      14. Austria (July 16)
      15. Britain (July 23)
      16. Hungary (August 7)
      17. Belgium (September 4)
      18. Italy (September 11)
      19. Canada (September 25)
      20. Brazil (October 9)
      21. USA (Austin) (October 23)
      22. Mexico (October 30)
      23. Abu Dhabi (November 13)

  3. Unlikely that they’ll stop doing it given that they are hell bent on holding as many races as possible.

    It’ll get worse as well once they start chucking more sprint abominations in on top of that.

    1. @dbradock Unnecessary as a race calendar can be slightly more spread out.

    2. @dbradock

      I’m betting Liberty has a profit projection number that they want to hit and if that is to be met, they need to increase the race calendar. Liberty took a massive financial hit from Covid after only owning the beleaguered F1 for one year.

      Any talk about lower the race calendar is probably not met well with the Liberty bean counters and investors.

      It’s all about the money baby!

  4. I agree with Seidl. 20-21 weekends featuring more sprints would be okay.
    Concerning triple-headers: Based on the info on next season thus far, I’ve pondered how the race calendar might look like, and in my scenarios, triple-header would/could get avoided. Even moving a single event could help this matter. Everything has to make sacrifices in the long-term anyway, as race schedule is an obvious way of helping the 2030 carbon neutral target. Geographical grouping, I don’t suggest everything, but races already in the same season phase should occur consecutively.

  5. Liberty: …but money.

  6. Maybe they can join a knitting circle.

  7. If you did a poll of everyone in the paddock I guarantee that the overwhelming view would be no more than 20 races with double headers avoided as much as possible & triple headers been a complete no-go.

    I’ve not heard a single positive thing from anybody i’ve asked about it that is part of the F1 paddock on the calendar going above 20 races or the amount of double/triple headers that have been seen the past couple years.

    Last year triple headers were unavoidable for the most part as they were trying to get something resembling a full season into 5-6 months. However this year it’s unforgivable as scheduling 23 races & trying to replace events which couldn’t go ahead (Looking for places to cram in the replacements) was a choice rather than a need.

    1. @gt-racer

      I’m betting Liberty has a profit projection number that they want to hit and if that is to be met, they probably need to increase the race calendar. Liberty took a massive financial hit from Covid after only owning the beleaguered F1 for one year and probably very eager to get back on track with original projections.

      Any talk about lowering the race calendar is probably not met well at all with the Liberty bean counters and investors.

      It’s all about the money baby!

      If it means getting blood from the stone, then so be it. (sort of speak) F1 and the teams are only passengers on liberty’s the money train.

      Of course, I’m not into it and agree with you about a 20 race calendar being better. Quantity doesn’t mean quality.

  8. I have always said and I believe the calendar should have no more than 20 races. There are a variety of reasons which are well documented. With no more than 20 races there would never be any need for triple headers. Unless Covid related cancellations created an issue.

    Who knows one day someone may listen to the teams and I think, a majority of the fans. I completely accept there are those who are happy with more races though.

  9. @phil-f1-21

    Read the post I made above, not sure if Liberty is willing to listen to fans and teams if their investment projections are not being met. Then, lets also put it into perspective: How many fans of F1 do you think would be willing to pay more money to watch only 20 races? I know that sounds like a weird question but Liberty probably would say 20 races is not enough unless they get more revenue to cover the races lost in 23+ race calendar they intended to have.

    It think this pretty much happens & to be expected when you have a publicly traded financial investment firm buy F1 thats main & very important goal is to make huge profits exponentially to meet their investors expectations.

    1. Yes I think you’re probably correct. Unless Liberty change their business model for F1 I doubt they are going to pay too much attention to the fans or teams.

      I think the sport will seek to avoid triple headers though which means some races will have to move around in the calendar.

    2. It really harks back to the price they paid for F1 in the first place.

      I can’t imagine why they thought that the price was even close to a good investment unless some rather poorly informed (I.e. didn’t understand F1 at all) sat down and imagined how they could run double the races and rake in heaps of cash without bothering to understand a season or the concept of overkill.

      Now they’ve bought it they’ll do anything required to prop up that decision and try to generate profit to increase their share price.

      1. @dbradock @phil-f1-21

        Let none of us forget that Liberty is a publicly traded investment firm in their stock being openly traded on the NASDAQ stock market, they have to keep making more earnings than the previous years for their stock price to stay in good standings and to draw more investors. Jan ’20, their stock was $45, by April ’20 is fell to $20.63 per share. It’s now around $42

        The big issue/twist for Liberty is Covid. Liberty lost substantially from it, crushing any wiggle room that they had in their projections. No one could have known this was going to happen but now Liberty has to make up for it.

        Lets not forget about “Anacott Steel” :)

        I think they saw the potential to capitalize F1 even at the high price they paid ($4.6B) if they could meet several projected targets with fixing perceived faults in how F1 was being managed and revenues & markets not being utilized well enough.
        Lets hope that Liberty doesn’t make a cut and run, they could even break it up to help maximize monies from selling it but I hope they do the right thing for F1 and its future but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Liberty took an offer to sell F1.

        Anyways, I hope the teams and their employee’s get treated fairly by Liberty.

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