Alain Prost admits that for even someone as immersed in F1 as he is, triple-headers can mean “losing a little bit of interest”.
The four-time former World Champion has been in and around Formula 1 for not far off two-thirds of his life, for he will turn 67 in February and began his racing career in the series way back in 1980 for McLaren.
In those days, a season only comprised 14 races, but over the intervening years the calendar has gradually been expanded and in 2022 there will be a record 23 grands prix to keep fans entertained.
However, Prost feels the schedule has reached saturation point – as a non-executive director with Renault who attends races regularly, he feels the triple-headers have become too much.
Although the pandemic has clearly been a factor in grands prix having to be squeezed in so close together, two triple-headers have still been rostered for 2022.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) January 1, 2022
“Twenty three races is a lot,” the Frenchman told the ‘In the Fast Lane’ podcast.
“Very difficult for the teams, very difficult for the people travelling, some of the mechanics, engineers, team principals that [are] running all the races, some not always in a good condition, if you can imagine that, and it has to be very, very difficult.
“And [F1] has to stay also exceptional. I remember, maybe not this year, but the first time we had three races in a row. And even for me, I was losing a little bit of interest in a way because it’s too close.
“It’s a compromise between the number of races, the number of fans and obviously the money you can generate.
“But if you have more success and you will bring more sponsors in, maybe we could have also a little bit less races. [But] it looks like it’s not the way we are going.”
Even in what constitutes an ideal scenario for 2022, before, and hopefully without, any cancellations, two triple-headers will take place in the second half of the campaign.
The first is the less taxing of Belgium-Netherlands-Italy straight after the summer break, but following only a one-week gap a trio of Russia-Singapore-Japan consecutively will be much more demanding.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has also expressed his opposition to triple-headers on multiple occasions, describing them as “pretty stressful” and admitting the gruelling schedule had made some members of his team staff consider switching to careers outside of F1.