Fernando Alonso admits he is somewhat bamboozled by the planning behind Formula 1’s current triple-header.
This thrilling season is concluding with six races in eight weeks, the first three of which are on the North and South American continents and then it is off to the Middle East for the concluding trio.
But rather than being separated evenly, the United States Grand Prix was a standalone race with a break before the triple-header which comprises Mexico, Brazil and Qatar.
A weekend off follows Qatar before the final double-header, the Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix on the first two Sundays in December.
For the second consecutive year, the ongoing pandemic has meant the calendar has had to be a work in progress for much of the season with scheduling difficult due to race cancellations.
But Alonso nevertheless finds it a head-scratcher the way the climax to the campaign has been mapped out.
“Obviously only [Max] Verstappen and [Lewis] Hamilton are fighting for the championship and it’s a very long season with these trips at the end,” the Alpine driver told reporters.
“This triple-header is not the most convenient. Each race is separated by 12 hours in a plane or so and it’s important the team and the mechanics are able to preserve their energy.
“They were packing everything away until late at night to catch a flight to go to Brazil, unpack everything again, set up the garage. It’s on the limit for them.
“We have to find better solutions for the calendar.
“Austin is only an hour and a half from Mexico City but that was two weeks ago. It’s strange that some races are separated by two weeks and other races on different continents follow one after the other.”
The equivalent phase of the 2022 campaign will at least be more to Alonso’s liking in that respect because Austin and Mexico are due to form a double-header on the last two weekends in October.
Then there will be a week’s gap before a double-header in Brazil and Abu Dhabi to round off a record 23-race season on November 20 – an earlier-than-usual finish which may or may not (unofficially) have anything to do with avoiding a clash with the football World Cup in Qatar.
Alonso’s main target over the remainder of this season will be to help Alpine finish fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, with AlphaTauri having drawn level with them on 106 points thanks to Pierre Gasly’s fourth-place finish in Mexico.
Planet F1 verdict