F1 drivers unite on ‘way over the limit’ calendar as 24-race season begins

Sam Cooper
F1 drivers answer questions during a press conference

Some of the sport’s most experienced drivers agreed the calendar is too long.

Drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have agreed that the 24-race calendar is “way over the limit” as the new season approaches.

This weekend’s race in Bahrain will be the first of 24 for the drivers and teams to cope with as the record-breaking season gets underway and while fans may enjoy the spectacle, those inside the sport find it is taking its toll.

Asked ahead of Bahrain their thoughts on the season, a good portion of the current grid said it was too much for a single year.

F1 drivers hit back against record-breaking season

The first person to reach for the mic during the press conference was Carlos Sainz who said the sport has got to the point where it is “at the limit” of what it can expect from the drivers and staff involved.

“In my opinion, I think we’re already at the limit of the number of races that personnel, drivers, F1 people, F1 journalists etc can take during the year if you want to have a family back home to go and see and and to keep in touch with your home,” he told media including PlanetF1.com.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s family, if it’s your dog, whatever, I think it’s just on the limit of being a bit too much and I really hope it doesn’t get much higher than 24 because if not, I think it’s going to be very tricky for everyone.

“And from my driving point of view, when I look at football, I really like the Champions League because the Champions League you don’t get it that often, the highlight of having a Champions League match, and that connects people for that day.

“I think Formula 1 is risking becoming too used to constantly having one race every weekend and losing a bit the appetite of everyone watching on the TV to watch.

“I think Formula 1 needs to remain exclusive. It needs to remain a sport where everyone is looking forward to that race to switch on and not something that you can get used to just by switching on the TV like a regular league match every weekend.”

Hamilton was next to speak and agreed with Sainz that the sport is close to the limit.

“I think similar in the sense that we are on the limit already, maybe already over it, but I think we just have to be conscious of quality versus quantity,” he said.

“We also have to think about the impact that we have on the world. The more races that we put on this whole circus is travelling everywhere so sustainability has to be at the heart of the decisions that they’re making.”

But one person who was convinced the sport was already over the limit is Verstappen, who has previously stated the saturated calendar will cause him to retire early.

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“I feel already that we’re way over the limit of races so for me personally, I know of course I’m still young but I also know that I’m not doing this for another 10 years doing 24 races,” he said.

“So I think for sure like also Lewis said I think it’s about the quality over quantity that we have to look at as well.

“From my side, I know and I’ve said it before, this is not sustainable. I love racing a lot and I do it a lot and also outside of Formula 1 but at one point you start looking into the quality of life and how much you are away for doing the sport that you love, but at one point I prefer probably to just be at home and focus on on other projects because this is crazy.”

One man who agreed with Verstappen was Alonso who, having raced more times than anyone else, said it has been increasingly constant while he has been in the sport.

“I think we are well over the limit,” he said. “I agree with all the comments. I started and we had 16 races then it was 18 at some point and then I think when Liberty came you have like a message that you know we had 20 one season and that was absolutely the limit, 20 races and and now we are up to 24.

“This is not sustainable for the future. I think for anyone. We just heard even the World Champion thinks that is a little bit the wrong decision, imagine for the rest of us that we go to the races in the second half for nothing, because I mean there is no incentive to fight for anything.”

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