Mika Hakkinen identifies the real problem with current F1 calendar

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen dominated the Brazilian Grand Prix, having led from the start. FIA

Max Verstappen leads the pack into the first corner at Interlagos.

Mika Hakkinen, the two-time World Champion, believes the sheer number of back-to-back races is the real problem with the current F1 calendar.

F1 staged his joint-longest season ever in 2023, with 22 races held between Bahrain on March 5 and Abu Dhabi on November 26.

The campaign concluded with a breathless streak of five races in six weeks – including a challenging double-header which saw the drivers race in Abu Dhabi just seven days after a 10pm start time in Las Vegas.

Mika Hakkinen concerned by F1 calendar expansion

The schedule will be expanded to a record-breaking 24 races in 2024, with the Chinese and Emilia Romagna grands prix set to return.

Hakkinen, the 1998/99 World Champion who initially took a sabbatical from F1 in 2002 before announcing his retirement nine months later, has expressed his sympathy with the drivers and team staff.

And he has claimed that he would raise serious concerns with his team if he were still competing in F1 today, arguing that the strain on staff could even have potential safety repercussions.

Speaking via the Unibet International YouTube channel, he said: “The 2023 season was record-breakingly long.

“Compared to my years in F1 – I think we had a maximum of 17 races – [there were] 22 races. I attended some of them [and] you could see in people’s faces how tough the end of the season was.

“Ultimately, 22 races as a number is not that high. The problem is constantly having back-to-back races. The transitions from A to B are hard.

“Once again, you have to find the racing attitude and focus. I think that’s the biggest challenge for many – not necessarily only the drivers, but the mechanics and the organisation. That was probably the biggest challenge.

“Going forward, there are even more races. It’s going to be a tough task. Very tough.

“Maybe the world calls for it. The fans call for it. They want more races. More racing. The task of F1 is to deliver and fill the calendar.

“If I still drove in F1 and saw the number of races, I would have stern negotiations with the team about the compensation.

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“And not only about that, but how it can be ensured that people’s endurance is at a required level to make sure that everyone can still work without errors.

“We’re talking about a sport with super high speeds. You don’t want to make mistakes.”

Despite concerns over the every-growing calendar, the 2024 season is set to conclude with a triple header with the Las Vegas, Qatar and Abu Dhabi races held on consecutive weekends.

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