George Russell, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Drivers urging F1 to improve calendar organisation, Russell tells Djokovic

2023 F1 season

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Formula 1 drivers are urging the series to improve the organisation of its calendar to cut down on the amount of travel they do.

George Russell acknowledged their concerns about the growing schedule in a conversation with men’s world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Under the original 2023 F1 calendar teams should have been in Shanghai this weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix, but the race was cancelled due to logistical challenges caused by Covid-19. Russell took the opportunity offered by the gap in the calendar to attend the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament, where he met Djokovic.

In a conversation between the pair captured by the ATP Tour and posted on social media, the two athletes discussed the differences between their two sports. Djokovic noted how F1’s calendar demands teams must regularly travel between continents over the course of the year.

After Djokovic asked how long it took for him to get used to the travelling that comes with racing in Formula 1, Russell replied that it “probably takes a week” for him to recover from the journey to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix and 10-hour time difference.

“We were meant to go to China next week but we’ve actually got a couple of weeks off,” Russell continued. “Azerbaijan and then the season really kicks off – Miami then Monte Carlo.”

Djokovic can be heard expressing his surprise at the positioning of the various races on the calendar, telling Russell that “they really don’t keep you on the continents.” The Europe-based championship will make three separate trips to North America this year in May, mid-June and again in October.

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“No, no, no,” Russell concurred. “There’s a few conversations about this [the calendar],” Russell replied, “because we’re left, right and centre.”

Feature: Why F1’s 2023 calendar was only a small step towards its “perfect” vision
Russell has previously expressed a desire to adjust the F1 calendar to avoid flyway races being held in isolation. Speaking during the Australian Grand Prix weekend, Russell also said that drivers were engaging in dialogue with Formula 1 and CEO Stefano Domenicali about the calendar.

“I think collectively, we have a really strong input,” Russell said in Melbourne. “I think Stefano’s incredibly open to hear our views and have conversations.

“There’s obviously been a lot of talk about how sustainable the calendar is, jumping from the Middle East to America and back to Europe. And I think in years to come that will be improved.

“Definitely I think Australia needs to be back-to-back with a Middle Eastern race, because I think almost all of us flew out here on a Saturday or Sunday last week. All of the mechanics, the engineers likewise so you’re already losing those additional three or four days. So it makes sense to be back-to-back with a Middle Eastern race.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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12 comments on “Drivers urging F1 to improve calendar organisation, Russell tells Djokovic”

  1. Archibald Bumfluff
    13th April 2023, 12:02

    it’s far too sensible to run the calendar in a sensible geographical order, like doing Asia, then Europe, then the Americas

    I guess there are too many parties involved to agree something sensible. Too many places want to specify when their race is run, like Abu Dhabi insisting that it’s the last race every year.

    1. @Archibald Bumfluff
      Abu Dhabi being last isn’t what makes things challenging, though, as not all Middle Eastern events have to occur consecutively & most events don’t have anything specific regarding when, anyway.
      Ultimately, differences in climatic conditions are the only true stumbling block to running seasons in a fully regionalized order, like the one you refer.

      1. Archibald Bumfluff
        13th April 2023, 13:43

        I’m not even sure that climate would count as a good reason any more.

        for a lot of places where climate would be a problem, running the race at a different time of day would avoid problems with midday sun or tropical rain storms (that come at pretty much the same time every day)

        the most northern races like Canada, the UK and Belgium would be pretty nasty in winter (or impossible in Canada’s case) but it doesn’t NEED to be in the middle of summer either.

        I’m certain it would be possible to organise the calendar by geography.

        1. Tropical rain storms, yes, although in Singapore’s case, they’ve been relatively rare in September-October & mostly occured in the morning or afternoon rather than evening, but yes, choosing the time of day is one way of making things more achievable.
          Regarding the midday sun reference, the temp differences are mostly marginal between afternoon & evening hours, especially in tropical climate zones.
          The hot desert zone (i.e., Middle East locations) events occur decently far from the hottest months (except Qatar GP) to avoid the hot weather risk even in the afternoon sessions.
          Yes, locations with generally pleasant weather only in the Northern Hemisphere summer months (i.e., Montreal & non-Mediterranean Europe locations) don’t necessarily need to be specifically in the summer, with late-spring & early-autumn also usually having decent weather & temps for racing.

  2. A more regionalized race calendar would be good, but wholly achieving this is challenging, given different climatic conditions, such as hot-weather, rainy, & cold phases for certain locations, etc.
    As regionalized as practicable should be the minimum target over time, though.
    The ongoing season has four separate North American trips, given LV GP occurs in November.
    Lastly, Australian GP indeed should be paired with another event to minimize overall travel, but that wouldn’t necessarily have to be a Middle Eastern one, as the likes of China & Japan are also options.

  3. It is a bit in contradiction to earlier request from drivers and teams to minimize triple headers as it caused people to be too long away from home.

    So putting races in geographical order will only marginally reduce travel unless triple headers are arranged. Else all folks in F1 travel home (=Europe for most) between the races.

    Obviously it is a bit nuts that we have Baku then Miami followed by Imola. Similar with Spain, Canada and Austria. Would have made much more sense to combine Miami & Canada similar as they combine Austin & Mexico.

    It of course remains a WORLD championship meaning it only makes sense that races are across all continents (at the moment 5 of 6 have races). Additionally certain races are best held at certain dates given local climate as well as local calendars and internal events.

    Ideally F1 arranges 12 double headers with 1-2 empty weekends in between.
    wk9+10 Bahrain + Saudi Arabia
    wk12+13 Australia + China
    wk16+17 Baku + Imola
    wk19+20 Monaco + Spain
    wk22+wk23 Miami + Canada
    wk26+wk27 Austria + Hungary (weird to be in Austria and first travel to UK before going to Hungary)
    wk29+wk30 Italy + UK
    wk34+wk35 Belgium + Netherlands
    wk37+wk38 Singapore + Japan
    wk41+wk42 Austin + Mexico
    wk44+wk45 Brazil + Las Vegas
    wk47+wk48 Qatar + Abu Dhabi

    Last there shouldn’t be more than 24 races actually probably better to have it reduce back to 22 or even 20 having 10 double headers with each time 2 empty weekends (summer break 3 empty weekends) in between => 9 months racing and 3 months winter developing+testing

    1. @Jimmy Cliff Your arrangement is good overall, although Baku & Imola couldn’t form a double-header because freight events & truck ones can’t occur on consecutive weekends for logistical impracticalities.

  4. Grouping races by region is something thats been a discussion point since at least the early 2000s but ultimately plans to do so always stall when the various factors that play into what goes where come up.

    The climate is one consideration as you want to try and get the best of a regions weather.

    Other local events are also a consideration as while some are fine to be grouped with F1 others are not for various reasons.

    And then you have other things to consider, Especially with races on temporary circuits that need time to be build up and tore down as there may again be local considerations around the disruption that need to be taken into account. They don’t want the construction work interfering with other local events for instance so races may be scheduled taking that into account.

    On paper grouping everything together is easy but when you dig into it, Start talking to everyone and looking at the local circumstances you see it starts to get a bit trickier which is why it’s something often talked about but ultimately never actually done.

    1. @gt-racer Indeed, easier said than done, although as regionalized as feasible should still be the minimum target.

  5. He’s envious of George being allowed into the States, not just once but three times…

    1. I guess this small issue with travel to the Miami Grand Prix for part of the fans and probably part of the paddock would not have made it to their conversation either @bullfrog

      1. Not another sportswashing Grand Prix!

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