Verstappen: Over the limit 24-race F1 calendar ‘not sustainable’

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Reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen and several of his colleagues have reignited concerns about the sport's relentless expansion, with the upcoming 24-race season being branded "well over the limit" by some.

Since Liberty Media's takeover of Formula 1 in 2017, the sport has witnessed a surge in popularity, allowing the commercial right holder to explore new territories like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and destination races in the United States.

This expansion, however, has come at a cost, raising concerns about the sustainability of such a demanding schedule for drivers and teams.

Many drivers and team personnel believe the current 24-race agenda is already pushing the limit, questioning the long-term viability of the sport with further additions.

Their worries extend beyond personal fatigue to potential oversaturation of the market, fearing a decline in fan engagement due to an excessive number of races.

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“Well, I feel already that we’re way over the limit of races,” said Verstappen in Bahrain on Wednesday when queried on the topic.

“So for me personally, yeah, I know I’m of course still very young, but I also know that I’m not doing this for another 10 years.

“I think it’s about the quality over quantity that we have to look at as well. And yeah, 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 also outside of F1. But at one point you, you start looking into the quality of life and how much you are away for doing a sport that you love.

“But at one point I prefer probably to just be at home and focus on other projects. Because this is crazy, you know how much you have to do for it. And I love it.

“Now it’s not a problem. But I know that in a couple of years’ time, it’s very different,” the Dutchman added.

“We need to look into that. Because I think if you have to start rotating drivers it’s a bit crazy. But at the end of the day, of course, it’s up to Formula 1, you know what they want to do with their sport.

“But if you know people in the sport start shortening their careers because it’s too much. I think that’s a bit of a shame. So hopefully of course we can have a look at that for the future.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz is on the same page as his Red Bull rival.

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

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

“I think Formula 1 is risking becoming too constant, having one race every weekend and losing a bit the appetite of everyone switching on the TV to watch F1, and I think F1 needs to remain exclusive.

“It needs to remain a sport where everyone is looking forward for that race to switch on and not something that you can get used to just by switching on the TV like a regular [football] league match every weekend.

“If we’ve got to that point where we even need to rotate drivers, we’ve gone too far. And I think we are already pretty close to that limit.”

F1’s senior citizen, 42-year-old Fernando Alonso, began his career at the pinnacle of motorsport in 2001 with 17 races on the docket. The Spaniard agrees that the sport is now well over the limit and sees its expansion as detrimental to its future.

“I think we are well over the limit. I agree with all the comments,” said the Aston Martin driver.

“I started and we had [17] races. Then it was 18 at some point. And then I think when Liberty came, it was like a message that we had 2021 season and that was absolutely the limit, 20 races.

“And now we are in up to 24. And yeah, this is not sustainable for the future, I think for anyone, drivers, even the world champion thinks that this is a little bit long the season.

“Imagine for the rest of us, you know, that we go to the races in the second half for nothing because, I mean, there is no incentive to fight for anything.

“So I think, or someone understands this, so yeah, it’s going to be detrimental for the sport.”

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