George Russell believes that the fatigue and illnesses plaguing F1 team members towards the end of this year’s grueling season should serve as stark evidence of the unsustainable nature of next year's 24-race calendar.
Grand Prix racing’s arduous 2023 campaign, which culminated in the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix followed immediately by the Abu Dhabi season finale, subjected the F1 paddock to a drastic 12-hour time shift within just three days, leading to widespread fatigue and sickness at Yas Marina.
Next year, the sport’s agenda will expand to 24 races and conclude once again with a brutal triple header that will take the F1 community from Las Vegas to Qatar and then to Abu Dhabi.
But considering the severe fatigue experienced this year by the paddock, there is growing pressure on F1 to insert some much-needed breathing space between Las Vegas and the final rounds of what will be the longest season in the sport’s history.
Russell believes that the current schedule of 24 races in 2024 is unsustainable and that personnel should not be expected to attend every race.
The Mercedes driver suggests that regulating personnel participation in races would be a positive step towards ensuring their health and well-being, although teams could be challenged to implement such a process due to F1’s cost cap which has led to a reduction in personnel.
“The drivers, we have it best from every single person in this paddock," he said. "The way we travel, we're in a very fortunate position.
"But everybody up and down the paddock, I've got so many mechanics who are ill, people in the engineers' office, just really struggling with the constant time zone shifts, the body not knowing where you are, eating at different times, staying in different hotels, different environments, different climates.
"The body's getting confused. There are talks for next year about personnel being regulated so that they can't do every single race. I think that would be a good thing.
"I don't think it's sustainable for 4,000 people to do 24 races a season, especially when you see how geographically it still doesn't make a huge amount of sense."
Russell’s comments came in the wake of a physically “miserable” race weekend during which the Briton battled a “horrendous cough” on his way to finishing third at Yas Marina.
"I was probably coughing four times a lap then, so it was pretty miserable out there,” he explained.
"I've been really ill the last two weeks. Firstly in Vegas with a big fever - I couldn't sleep and just felt awful. And then I've had a horrendous cough that stayed with me all week and in the car.
"I was coughing every single lap but when you're strapped into the car, you can't breathe. You can't take a deep breath in to get the cough out. So, it was just constantly with me."