Sergio Perez says Formula 1 must not put races on just for the sake of having races amid concern over the demands of next year’s record-breaking calendar.
Several drivers fell ill over the final rounds and many team staff have also been unwell or reported severe tiredness. F1’s calendar has grown consistently in recent years, and the 2023 schedule was the joint-longest ever.
Perez, who has competed in every F1 season since 2011, said the demands of travel have “definitely been more than other years.”
“I think this last part of the season has been super-intense with the travelling backwards and forwards. The amount of races is definitely at the limit, not just for the drivers but also for all the mechanics out there.”
While F1 has tried to group its events together in order to reduce the amount of travelling involved, Perez says it needs to go further.
“The schedule really has to be more efficient and try to look after everyone in this world a lot more,” he said. “My main concern is some of my mechanics, really.”
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The 2024 F1 calendar is another record-breaker, featuring a total of 24 events. These include the reinstated races at Shanghai International Circuit, which F1 hasn’t visited since the Covid-19 pandemic, and Imola, whose round was cancelled this year due to severe flooding in the Emilia Romagna region.
Perez said F1 must ensure each event it puts on the calendar deserves its place. “We just have to make sure that we keep delivering and we just don’t make a lot of races for the sake of doing them,” he said. “I think the quality level is still very important to have in the sport to make sure we keep this upward route.”
Drivers have raised concerns over the schedule, but Perez accepts it may not be possible to adjust the 2024 calendar, which F1 announced in July.
“Obviously, it’s something that we’re going to raise up to try and see what can be done,” he said. “Probably now is late for next year, but for the year after to really try to maximise it.
“I remember seeing people so exhausted in the last race so I think it’s something that we’ve got to be taking very seriously because it’s important for the sport, for the drivers to obviously keep having this long careers that we’ve seen from the staff, from the mechanics, we want them to have very long careers as well. So I think it’s something we’ve got to consider.”
Perez’s team principal Christian Horner agreed the schedule had been a “pretty brutal regime” and that improvements are needed for future seasons.
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“This is five races in six weeks. So for the mechanics in the garage, for the travelling staff, it is a brutal end to the season.
“Of course, that’s a little accentuated by the time difference. We were effectively working in the Japanese time zone in Vegas, and then a 12-hour swing to come here.
“So it’s something that’s been raised with Formula 1 and the FIA. Their personnel, they feel it as well, and I think solutions are being put in place to the future to take into account the toll that it does take on not just the staff, but all the travelling circus that is associated with Formula 1.”
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