Banning F1 team staff from doing all 24 races “would be a good thing” – Russell

Formula 1

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George Russell ended the season on a high with a podium but was one of several drivers who struggled with their health over the final races.

The Mercedes racer, who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, expects changes to be made to reduce the strain on teams as a result of the longest-ever, 24-round 2024 F1 calendar.

Speaking after his podium finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Russell described how he’d been “really ill the last two weeks.” F1’s season finished with five races in six weeks, and the final two held on consecutive weekends with a punishing 12 hour time zone shift.

“Firstly, in Vegas with a big fever, I couldn’t sleep and just felt awful,” explained Russell. “And then I’ve had a horrendous cough that stayed with me all weekend in the car.

“I was coughing every single lap, but when you’re strapped into the car, you can’t breathe. You can’t take a deep breath in to get the cough out. So, it was just constantly with me. It was pretty, pretty miserable. So I was pleased to bring it home when I saw that chequered flag.”

F1 held 22 rounds in little over 38 weeks this year. Next season’s 24 rounds will take place in the space of 40 weeks.

Russell said he was more concerned for the wellbeing of team members than drivers. “We have it best from every single person in this paddock, the way we travel,” he said. “We’re in a very fortunate position.

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“But everybody up and down the paddock – I’ve got so many mechanics who are ill, people in the engineers’ office just really struggling with the constant timezone shifts, the body not knowing where you are, eating at different times, staying in different hotels, different environments, different climates. The body’s getting confused.”

He is in favour of rules change to ease the burden on staff. “I think there are talks for next year about personnel being regulated that they can’t do every single race. I think that would be a good thing.

“I don’t think it’s sustainable to 4,000 people, I think to do 24 races a season, especially when you see how geographically [spread out back-to-back events can be], it still doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.”

Other drivers have expressed similar concerns to Russell. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said it was “not very sustainable” for F1 to end with year with races in two different continents back-to-back. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who like Russell raced while feeling unwell in Abu Dhabi, said “the body is not designed” for the scheduling and time shifts that F1 used for its final two rounds.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said he is ready to take “extreme measures” to address the impact the long calendar is having on F1 personnel.

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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15 comments on “Banning F1 team staff from doing all 24 races “would be a good thing” – Russell”

  1. His suggestion would indeed be good, although teams can only do so much rotation, inevitably limiting flexibility.
    While the race calendar already received some decent changes for next season as part of F1’s long-term regionalization plan, meaning more improvements are on the way, but if only they stopped caring about such trivialities as when or roughly which date range certain events occur as that would give more flexibility for a better late-season formation, not to mention, eliminate unnecessarily lengthy intervals & triple-headers.
    However, the Montmelo-Red Bull Ring-Silverstone one would still exist, but the post-Singapore phase could be something like the following:
    Interlagos 6.10
    COTA 20.10
    Mexico City 27.10
    LV 9.11
    Losail 24.11
    Abu Dhabi 1.12
    Although the Sao Paulo GP could still fill the unnecessarily lengthy Singapore-COTA gap, in which case LV GP a week earlier to have only a gap of two consecutive non-race weekends, etc., but hopefully more thoroughly thought in the long-term.

    1. The problem I see is that F1 teams bring around 100 personnel to each GP. That is a ridiculous number and should be cut in half. It would most importantly lessen the carbon footprint of the F1 circus.

      1. the only really change on the carbon footprint would be to stop allowing visitors to travel to the races asd. But since that defeats the purpose of having the races all over the world in the fist place, yeah limiting teams further in how many people they (can / have to) take to the races would certainly help alleviate both the stress on the people as well as on CO2 emissions from their travels.

      2. It would most importantly lessen the carbon footprint of the F1 circus.

        How would it? Most of the support staff share as few flights as possible and they’re often flying anyway. The carbon fibre footprint comes from the air freight, not the team members.

        1. @optimaximal
          All of those surplus 20×50 = 1000 people eat, poop, use electric energy and require heavier loads being shipped to grand prixs to accommodate them and their work. It also involves hotels, catering, cars, trucks etc.

          Anyway, that wasn’t really my main point. My point was that F1 teams are way too big operations.

      3. I’d like to see less support staff, though for different reasons. Does it really need a dozen people at a pitstop? Pitstops are so fast these days that it negates much of the advantage of trying a different tyre strategy, going for one stop instead of two. If they were only allowed six people in the pit lane, it would force them to think differently. They also have an army of strategists, and another 100 back at base, all watching sensors, running programs to advise the driver, telling them to cool brakes or adjust balance or the pace needed to optimise tyres. NASA used less people than the average F1 team to fly rockets to the moon. I really want drivers to drive the car alone and unassisted. If the cars are too complicated to drive without this myriad of people telling them which switches to press then simpler cars with better designed consoles and more ergonomic controls will do better, and drivers who are better at understanding their cars will do better.

  2. The level of incompetence in F1 never ceases to amaze – almost as much as the astronomical levels of greed and ego.
    Surely one of the most basic life lessons learnt early on is: If you are tired – rest.
    But F1-people are too smart for that…. Or so they think.

    There could be 50 events on the calendar, and they’d still be missing the bleeding obvious.
    How can teams of 700+ people not have enough HR management to have a few spares ready to go at all times, and actually use them? Rotation shouldn’t need to be mandated – it’s just common sense. Although, common sense isn’t very common anymore.

    Nobody is irreplaceable – not even the drivers.

  3. The 4.000 people Russell references are what? The team personnel and the FIA staff? That seems like a very big number. Does F1 really need about 300-350 people per team at each event?

    1. I actually think he is probably correct about that number yeah. It includes 10 teams and another maybe hundred for the FIA.

      1. Oh I’m sure he’s correct, just wondering how it breaks down.

        Aside from the teams and FIA, Pirelli is there as well with a sizeable staff, FOM with their tv crew etc.

        It’s quite the traveling circus!

  4. Ordinarily more is better but this season proved that wrong. Less is more for F1 in its current form.

  5. They could revert back to 19 races and i would even notice.
    Apart from the financial aspect, that have nothing to do with me or the general audience, i see nothing good of having so many races. It only devaluates the importance of a single event.

    But they’re not leaving Singapore, Bahrein and Abu Dhabi so soon, and i accepted that already.

    These crappy new US rounds on the other hand, i doubt it will last 10 years.

    1. Singapore isn’t among the most lucrative, i.e., highest-paying events alongside the Middle East ones, though, but as a street circuit event with glamour, definitely not under threat for the time being.

  6. 24 races is just ridiculous

  7. F1 in all roles takes dedication well above normal levels. I see no issue. Just read about a driver complaining about driving with a cough. If people cannot take it they can do other jobs.

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