George Russell puts forward his solutions for F1’s calendar complaints

Michelle Foster
George Russell in the paddock. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

George Russell in the paddock. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

George Russell believes twinning the Australian Grand Prix with one of the Middle East races would go a long way towards relieving some of the strain of the Formula 1 calendar.

However, dropping down to just one practice session late on the Friday afternoon would be even more beneficial, especially with Formula 1 plotting a 24-race season for next year’s championship.

Last season F1 chief Stefano Domenicali reportedly spoke about grouping the Formula 1 calendar into continents to allow for less travelling time, plus it would go a long way towards the sport achieving it’s net zero carbon ambitions.

Instead F1 put out on a calendar that bounces around the globe from the Middle East to Australia to Baku, America, Europe, Canada, Europe again, Asia, the Middle East, America and finally it finishes with race number 23 in Abu Dhabi.

It’s a strain on the drivers but even more so on the team personnel who arrive earlier and leave later, and that’s something Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director Russell says F1 needs to talk about.

“I think collectively we have a really strong input and I think Stefano is incredibly open to hear our views and have conversations,” Russell said.

“There’s obviously been a lot of talk about how sustainable the calendar is, jumping from the Middle East to America and back to Europe and I think in years to come that will be improved. I think for a lot of the fans it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Russell recently spoke with tennis legend Novak Djokovic about the F1 schedule, the Briton calling it a “killer” as it “probably taken a week to come back”.

He’d like to see Australia made a back-to-back race with one of the Middle East grands prix.

“There are a lot of limitations with the climate; we race at certain events and limitations of street circuits, of when they can open them,” he added.

“But definitely I think Australia needs to be back-to-back with a Middle Eastern race, because I think almost all of us flew out here on a Saturday or Sunday last week.

“All of the mechanics, the engineers likewise so you’re already losing those additional three or four days. So yeah, it makes sense to be back-to-back with a Middle Eastern race.” recommends

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Last season Formula 1 visited 22 venues while this season the calendar is up to 23, and next year it will be 24.

Russell has put forward the suggestion of having only one Friday practice late in the day in order to alleviate some of the strain as team personnel would only have to arrive on the Thursday.

“For the benefit of the 2,000 or 3,000 people travelling around the world, having the first session on a Friday afternoon, evening so there’s less pressure for teams to arrive, let’s say, on a Wednesday,” he said.

“If you have your first session on Friday morning you need to be here on a Thursday, which for a lot of the races requires flying on a Wednesday.

“If we can push that back to allow teams to fly on a Thursday morning; you add that up over 24 races in a year, you’re getting on for almost a month extra at home or sleeping in your own bed, which is huge for everybody in this circus.”