Norris says 24-race season ‘not sustainable – Domenicali hits back

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McLaren driver Lando Norris believes that a 24-race calendar in F1 is both unsustainable and “not healthy”, especially for team personnel who bear the brunt of the sport’s demanding schedule.

F1 has witnessed over time a steady growth in its number of races, culminating in the current record-breaking 24-race calendar.

The addition of six sprint events further intensifies the workload, pushing the total number of races to 30.

This grueling schedule, according to Norris, takes a toll on team members who are constantly on the move, with barely any breaks between races, while sprint events add an unnecessary layer of strain to the mix.

“I’d always prefer the old, original race format,” said Norris in China last weekend, quoted by RaceFans. “This is what I’ve grown up watching, it’s what I’ve always liked the most.

“I do like just going in and having the pressure straightaway. So the fact of having one practice straight into qualifying, I do like it.

“I think it gives people less chance to just get the car perfect, so I do think it works from that perspective.

“But the main point is just the toll it has on mechanics and engineers. I don’t think it’s too bad for us as drivers, honestly. I don’t think we can be the ones to complain at all.


“It’s the hundreds of mechanics and engineers that we have here that have to travel so much. It’s not healthy for them. It is not sustainable.

“The problem is not with us so it’s not something you should be asking us. It’s something that people should look out more for the rest of the team.

"And I think that’s a limiting factor, not the fact of can we go in the car every day, because I think we can but not doing too much for them I think is the priority.”

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen feels that F1’s revised Sprint format is an improvement. But the Red Bull charger also believes that the sport is now maxed out in terms of its number of races.

“The sprint format was better, I think. A bit more straightforward, I would say. But, let’s not overdo it as well,” said Verstappen.

“We are already doing 24 races a year, six of these sprint events as well. I get it, I guess, it sells better and better numbers on TV. But it’s also more stress on the mechanics and everything, to get everything every time tip-top.

“So we take it, you have to deal with it, but let’s not think that now we need 12 of those because it will take its toll on people as well.”

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso echoed his colleagues’ views, stating that a 24-race agenda is “well over the limit”.

But Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali begs to differ, and insists 24 is the perfect number.

“I think 24 is an optimal number with the events we have so far,” Domenicali told Sky F1.

“The good news this year, I took it as a responsibility from the teams and to the promoter to announce the calendar much earlier than we normally do in order for everyone to be ready.

“That’s been another step in the direction of trying to regionalise the calendar.

“We cannot do it completely but I think that we did the right step, so [I'm] very happy with that.”

Domenicali also dismisses the drivers’ criticism, insisting more is better and suggesting rather disingenuously that drivers have a choice to leave F1 if they can't handle the schedule.

“I think that 24 is better than 12,” he said. “I speak with them - if you want to drive, you can drive every day, if you don't want to drive in Formula 1, it’s not compulsory.

“It’s a matter of respect for the fans. They want to see them racing. It's something that we have, the responsibility of all our fans, our partners, our promoters, our sponsors, our broadcasters - everyone.

“The magic of the sport we live in is because we need heroes that need to enjoy what they're doing. And I'm sure that they are enjoying it.”

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