Russell hopeful F1 will address calendar concerns

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 02.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Mercedes driver George Russell has said he is hopeful that Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali will be responsive to suggestions of making changes to next year's race calendar in light of GPDA concerns.

The F1 drivers' association has raised issues with this year's calendar which include more back-to-back and triple-header races as a result of the number of events rising to an expected 24 in 2024.

Russell - who is a director of the GPDA - is also unhappy that Australia has lost its traditional place on the schedule as the season opener, with Bahrain kicking things off this year.

With testing now also taking place in Bahrain the week before the first race, and followed by Saudi Arabia two weeks later, it meant that F1 was based in the same region for a full month before heading to Australia.

That should have been followed by a race in Shanghai, but the Chinese GP was cancelled due to ongoing COVID concern and the next race now won't be until the end of April when F1 rolls into Baku.

After that it's off to Miami before bounding back to Europe, but with flyaway the Canadian GP inserted into the schedule between Spain and Austria.

September sees the air miles logged, before F1 hits North and South America in October and November - which is then capped by an abrupt return to Abu Dhabi for the season finale on November 26.

Russell said he was confident that Domenicali was listening to drivers concerns about F1's logistical issues. "Stefano is incredibly open to hear our views and have conversations," he told the media earlier this month.

"I think collectively, we have a really strong input," he continued, explaining that the biggest concern of all of those in F1 was the way they bounced back and forth around the globe.

"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," he said.

"I think Australia needs to be back-to-back with a Middle-Eastern race, because almost all of us flew out [a week before the race]," he pointed out. "All of the mechanics and engineers were likewise.

"You're already losing those additional three or four days, so it makes sense to be back-to-back with a Middle-Eastern race.

"For a lot of the fans it doesn't make a lot of sense," he added. "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.

"I think in years to come, that will be improved," he said.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. 30.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Preparation Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Russell also believes that for a 24-race calendar to be sustainable, F1 needs to cut down the length of time that teams have to spend at each venue.

"For the benefit of the 2,000 or 3,000 people travelling around the world, [we should have] the first session on a Friday afternoon/evening so there's less pressure for teams to arrive, let’s say, on a Wednesday."

"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," he said.

"If we push that back to allow teams to fly on a Thursday morning, you add that up [and it is] over 24 races in a year. You’re getting on for almost a month extra at home or sleeping in your own bed.

"That's huge for everybody in this circus."

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