Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2023

F1 needs quality events, not “races for the sake of doing them” – Perez

Formula 1

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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.

Many drivers and staff members complained of the demands placed on them by the end of this year’s calendar, which featured five races within six weeks on three different continents. The championship ended with back-to-back races in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, where the strains of a 12-hour time zone shift were exacerbated by the American race starting at 10pm and one practice session not finishing until 4am.

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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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...
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10 comments on “F1 needs quality events, not “races for the sake of doing them” – Perez”

  1. Agree with Perez on the impact of an overcrowded season on the teams. On top of that, from a spectators perspective I also feel this many events is not a good thing. A Grand Prix should be something special with a lot of anticipation building up to it. It should be an extraordinary achievement to win one. If every weekend produces a winner it is simply of less value. Now it is simply not special anymore and in a Sprint weekend even two winners are produced. The relentless race for generating more revenue from sport events is destroying the essence of the sport.

    1. Well, as things went this year, winning a race not in a red bull had A LOT of value.

  2. Completely agree with him. Additionally, F1 also needs quality drivers. Not anyone just for the sake of driving it.

  3. Coventry Climax
    4th December 2023, 11:39

    Used to be athletes in the car and clever minds outside of it.
    Now, all entire teams are supposed to be super fit athletes.
    Gives new meaning to the constructors championship, but alas for all the wrong reasons.

    The special buzz and anticipation I used to have before a GrandPrix is long gone, specially with the arrival of smallprix weekends. I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll trow the towell after 50 years, but I will certainly be skipping the smallprix next season. Might decide on making a selection of GrandPrix, as keeping up with the full championship isn’t all that interesting anymore anyway, with so much of development being restricted and frozen.
    So for me, F1 has shot themselves in the foot.

  4. the whole show is all about quantity over quality now.

  5. 100% agree with Checo on this one, way too many events in a season. The calendar was fine when it was around 18 races. Most of the records such as points records and win records are becoming a bit pointless with so many events.
    I’ve been a mega fan for more than 30 years now since Mansell mania but the interest is waning I have to say.

  6. Well, how else is the FIA going to drive up their points-based entry fees, unless they cram as many races on the calendar as possible, and raise the points allocation for sprint races that no one wants?

    1. I by far prefer sprints to practice sessions, some people say they are sort of spoilers for the main gp and that’s a good point, they could probably change something between sprint and race, for example in 2020 we had 2 races at silverstone and one of them was with softer tyre compounds than the other and gave a bit different performance levels.

  7. The efforts to rationalise the calendar were completely undermined by scheduling a double-header on *literally* opposite sides of the world to close out the season. It was deeply irresponsible and we’re lucky that the widespread fatigue up and down the pit lane didn’t result in a serious incident.

    I’m relaxed about the overall number of events but the venues need to be chosen more carefully, rather than just plonking down another street circuit in whatever head-chopping petrostate decides it wants a race this week.

  8. Martin Brundle commentates at 16 grands prix each year – a satisfying number for fans of a certain age.
    I’d like to see some drivers have the balls to sit out a Qatarstrophe or other race-too-far. Every team’s got a reserve earphone driver eager to step in, even if the venue’s terrible or stupidly hot.

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