George Russell admits ‘people are feeling the effects’ of elongated F1 calendar

Sam Cooper
George Russell getting kitted up before the race. Abu Dhabi November 2022

Mercedes driver George Russell getting kitted up before the race. Abu Dhabi November 2022

George Russell has said the demands of taking part in an elongated Formula 1 race calendar have begun to have an effect on the people involved in the sport.

Formula 1 will compete at 23 race tracks in 2023, down from 24 following the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, with the teams set for a brutal schedule that sees them flying to five different continents.

The rise to 23 is the latest in a growing trend to stuff more races into a calendar year. The current cap is set at 25 as per the Concorde Agreement but with that deal set to expire at the end of 2025, that ceiling could be pushed higher in years to come.

Even before the season has begun, there have already been signs of the physical and mental toll placed on not just the drivers but others involved in the sport.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he would skip some races while the Grand Prix Drivers Association chairman Alex Wurz told that the topic had been raised as a concern by the drivers.

Speaking following the unveiling of the W14, Russell admitted that “people are feeling the effects” of the elongated calendar.

“There’s nothing different I’m doing this year,” Russell replied to the question of if he would change his approach to deal with 23 races.

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“I think with the team I’ve got around me we’re really, really honoured with, let’s say, human performance and it’s something we’re trying to implement a bit more into the group around us.

“Because these timezone shifts are so brutal for some of the races and just the length of flights. It doesn’t matter how you fly, it really takes it out of you.

“It’s definitely getting to a point where people are feeling the effects. I think we’ve had some good conversations with Formula 1 about where the future is and perhaps making things a bit more sustainable, not just in terms of flying but for all of us on this rollercoaster together.

“But ultimately, you’re so energised and motivated from going out there and driving. Sometimes even if you didn’t have the best night’s sleep, once you’re in the car, you’re in your game.”

Formula 1 will travel to Las Vegas in 2023 for the first time since the 1980s and while that has brought a significant amount of excitement, it has meant an extra 6,744 miles for the teams to travel.

It also means the season will end with a double header that will see teams have to fly for more than 18 hours between Vegas and the finale in Abu Dhabi the following weekend, as well as a 12-hour time difference to adjust to.