Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Yas Marina, 2023

Unwell Ocon says ‘the body is not designed for 24 races’

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by and

Esteban Ocon suspects the fever he is suffering from this weekend is related to the strains of Formula 1’s schedule.

Many drivers and team members have said they have been put under serious strain by F1’s decision to hold the Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi grands prix back-to-back despite the 12-hour time difference between the two locations. The strains of the Las Vegas Grand Prix were amplified by the fact the race was held at night.

Ocon arrived in Abu Dhabi feeling unwell and did not participate in media activities at the track on Thursday in order to rest. He said after qualifying on Saturday he was still feeling the effects of his fever.

The Alpine driver believes the combination of the unusual hours of the last two races, plus the length of F1’s schedule, have taken a toll on him. This is the 22nd event of this season, which is the same as last year, but the 2024 F1 calendar features a record-breaking 24 rounds.

“I’m not sure if it comes from [the Vegas timings] but we didn’t see the sun for four days,” said Ocon in response to a question from RaceFans after today’s qualifying session in Abu Dhabi. “There’s a lot of things that is pushing on the human body.

“Usually it’s when you come home from here, when [illness] happens. It’s one more race than last year, or two more races. The body is designed for that and not 24 or 23 races. So let’s see if we can escape from that next year.

After qualifying 12th on the grid for this weekend’s race, two places behind his team mate, Ocon said he was satisfied with his performance given his condition.

“It’s obviously not optimal to be in bed for two days before an F1 race,” said Ocon. “But I think we still did a good job considering all of that, considering not running in FP1 as well.

“We started pretty well with qualifying. I think we were straight away in a decent rhythm. It’s just that last run really which wasn’t ideal in terms of pace and how the car felt and picked up quite a lot of understeer with the car. Otherwise I think it would have been enough for Q3.

“So we’ll see tomorrow. I think there’s more pace than what we’ve shown today in the car and if we put everything together, hopefully there will be points on the table.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

22 comments on “Unwell Ocon says ‘the body is not designed for 24 races’”

  1. Lol drivers literally get like 12 weeks mostly off in the winter along with 2 weeks in the summer. Nvm the private jet flgiths & business class seats to sleep on. Forgive it’s hard to feel sympathy along with fact they basically get most weekdays off after a race with only odd factory/sim visits. Mechanics have it tougher but even for them it’s not like they don’t get weekends & usual 30+ days of leave. I can think of lorry drivers, nurses, pilots & loads more to frankly spend far more time away from family with less benefits/time off.

    1. “I can think of lorry drivers, nurses, pilots & loads more to frankly spend far more time away from family with less benefits/time off.”
      Do they never feel unwell though? Do they never get sick though? Because that’s the issue at hand.

      In the sports world, the athletes who seem to have the most intense schedule are tennis players. And the physical energy they have to exert – plus the stress to the body – is at least one order of magnitude higher than that of F1 drivers.

      I found such a post on this topic on a tennis forum from a couple of years ago:
      “For example, last year #1 Djokovic played 17 [tournaments], including WTF, playing 66 matches.
      #17 Tsitsipas played 28 tournaments and 73 matches at tour level, plus two Challengers and the Nextgen Finals for a total of 31 tournaments and 84 matches, a very heavy workload for a modern player.”

    2. Mostly agree with that- no sympathy lost.
      Crossing too many timezones can f-ck you up.
      What is maybe eating him is the jetlag.
      Not sure what is the cause or the effect, but Gasly seems to be overperfomring him lately.

    3. @isthatglock21 You do realise that mechanics also have bodies, and Ocon said “we” didn’t see the sun for four days, thus he is quite aware that the mechanics and other people going to races have the same problem?

      1. You feel bad for anyone who works nights? I did for a few years. I certainly wasn’t getting paid millions, or even the thousands that the mechanics/others get paid. It was a choice, just like any job. Don’t like it, leave.

    4. I think the drivers hardly get any time off. If they are not training they are on the sim, doing promotional activities, etc. They also might want to spend a couple days a month with family and managing personal affairs. And they are doing all this with drastic time zone changes. And it’s not the same for mechanics or press officers or whatever. They can be swapped out for a trip and they are not under the same scrutiny and requirement to perform at the maximum level at all times.

  2. It must be like being trapped in a sportswashing machine.

    1. yeah, a lot of people look at all the glitz with envy, but I am pretty sure those guys could give a rats at the end of the season. Its not like these guys have more than 1 or 2 days a week to themselves and their own interests before they are pulled back in to media commitments and business related activities. Always under the gun for not behaving certain ways for the sake of the sponsors, and having to play the part in front of the camera. Eeesh. Most of them probably are not paid enough. Especially considering they are giving the best years of their life to the sport (the more successful ones). 16-18 races is probably better IMO. And don’t cheat the guys who show up to the races who bought tickets. That just makes it 10x worse.

  3. He really needs to improve his fitness if he thinks 24 is too much for the human body.

    1. @jerejj No other series tries anything like as ridiculous as schedule as F1 just has. The 22-race calender we’ve just had was clearly several races too long for most people in the paddock. Some series with much less travelling have many more races, but they’re not the ones trying to schedule back-to-back races at opposite ends of the clock straight after a triple-header that spanned two continents.

      The body might be designed for 24 NASCAR races the way NASCAR schedules them. It is emphatically not designed for 24 F1 races in the F1 style of scheduling.

      1. @alianora-la-canta @david-br
        Valid point, although I was sarcastic anyway.

  4. @jerejj Top athletes can suffer serious burnout too, especially compromised immune systems.

  5. They have reserve drivers for a reason. If he isn’t fit for 24 races. Sub him out.

  6. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    25th November 2023, 21:41

    Comments called him toxically masculine when he said he’d die before he retired from Qatar, today in the comments he’s a wuss from being burnt out.

    1. He’s not toxically masculine (a d*mb trope), but he is a toxic wuss.

  7. There’s 19 other drivers who aren’t sick, complaining it’s from the 24 races

  8. Not a week goes by or he is complaining about something. So from the mouth of chronic victim Ocon… nope, I don’t take it. Since he won a race he has the talk of a champion, but still drives in general mediocre.
    But Verstappen is also not a fan of more races. But yeah that’s also someone who likes to bitch around.
    I think they can add a couple of races, but then they need to drop the sprint format and drop weekends back-to-back where the time zone is completely different.

  9. some racing fan
    26th November 2023, 6:21

    It’s the incompetent way the schedule is organized. Why would you have 2 races 9,000 miles (14,400 km) away from each other over a period of 8 days? That’s crazy. If they knew what was good for them, they would have Miami first, then the Asian and Oceanic races, then the European races, then the Americas races, and then Abu Dhabi.

    1. some racing fan
      26th November 2023, 6:37

      1. Miami (4 February)
      2. Qatar (25 February)
      3. Bahrain (3 March)
      4. Saudi (9 March)
      5. Australia (24 March)
      6. Singapore (31 March)
      7. Japan (14 April)
      8. China (21 April)
      9. Vegas (5 May)
      10. Azerbaijan (19 May)
      11. Monaco (2 June)
      12. Imola (9 June)
      13. Spain (23 June)
      14. Austria (30 June)
      15. Holland (14 July)
      16. Britain (21 July)
      17. Hungary (18 August) (Earlier break because of Paris Olympics)
      18. Belgium (1 September)
      19. Italy (8 September)
      20. Canada (22 September)
      21. Brazil (6 October)
      22. USA (20 October)
      23. Mexico (27 October)
      24. Abu Dhabi (10 November)

      1. some racing fan
        26th November 2023, 6:40


        9. Vegas (5 May)
        10. Imola (May 19)
        11. Monaco (2 June)
        12. Spain (9 June)
        13. Azerbaijan (23 June)
        14. Austria (30 June)

        1. some racing fan
          26th November 2023, 6:46

          7. China (14 April)
          8. Japan (21 April)

          1. Your looking good #some racing fan .
            Without trying to start a F1 War one of the first things that jumped out at me from your easy to read list was the difficulties faced should the idea of every car being thoroughly scrutineered at the end of every race be seriously considered.
            I’ll go with adjusting the schedule like you suggest and compromise on the scrutineering.

Comments are closed.