This is how Formula 1 planned its tough 24-race calendar for 2023

( – Formula 1’s 24-race calendar for 2023 bodes well for the current health of the series, but for many the schedule was a cause for concern. For those working in the paddock, it was the first indication of how many weekends will be spent away from home over the next year.

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There were jokes about the impending boom in the business of divorce lawyers in the Oxfordshire area, where most of the Formula 1 teams are based, and trepidation about the busy flights to follow next season.

The number of races is not the surprising thing about this calendar. This was known to be the case given the plans to add Qatar and Las Vegas, bring back China and keep both Spa and Monaco. The 24-run limit set by the Concorde agreement will always be reached.

Calendar 2023: No geographical grouping!

It is the composition of the races that has been a source of frustration for those working in Formula 1. Baku has been merged with Miami, while Montreal takes place a month later.

Qatar has not been placed anywhere near the other Middle East races, with Austin scheduled just a month before Las Vegas, with the latter forming a season-ending doubleheader with Abu Dhabi. At first glance, none of this makes much sense, especially after Formula 1 has declared its intention to group races geographically wherever possible.

And that’s before we consider the triple headers. Remember the first triple-header in 2018, where teams said they would never do it again and that their return in 2020 was out of necessity due to COVID-19.

Next year there will again be two groups of three: Emilia Romagna/Monaco/Spain and USA/Mexico/Brazil. Five races in six weeks to end the season may be exciting for fans, but it will push the paddock to its limits.

The reasons for the termination

It was not easy for Formula 1 to compile the 2023 racing calendar. Some of the pre-season planning was dependent on South Africa now not getting a race until 2024 at the earliest, which will affect other countries.

China was also delayed as Formula 1 evaluated its plans with or without South Africa. The early date now means that sooner rather than later there should be clarity on the possibility of returning to Shanghai.

The split between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia earlier this year may seem strange given their physical proximity, but there is some logic behind it. With testing in Bahrain taking place a week before the start of the season, a combination of the first two races would have resulted in another triple header. At least the gap gives the teams and staff a chance to go home after their stay in Bahrain.

Australia as a single race has been criticized this year, but realistically it could only be merged with either China – which obviously needs a longer distance to accommodate any entry restrictions – or Qatar, which takes place later as part of the Asian series along with Singapore and Japan.

But the prospect of 48 hours of travel time within a week to travel to and from Melbourne remains a major challenge for the fold.

Another planning difficulty was the return from Spa. The traditional date was no longer tenable as the events were fixed at the end of the year and after the summer break there was only room for two European events: Zandvoort and Monza.

The move from Spa to July meant that Imola had to give way, forming a trio with Monaco and Spain, which also affected the cancellation of Baku.

What happened to the plans to group races geographically?

This was one of the biggest criticisms leveled at Formula 1 when the calendar was released. For a racing series aiming to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2030, the amount of air travel – 133,570 km from one race to another without a trip home – seems like a big step backwards.

In May, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali informed team principals that from 2023 they wanted to group races by region as part of the sustainability commitment. While there is a loose grouping – Singapore/Japan/Qatar, USA/Mexico/Brazil/Las Vegas – it’s not the kind of schedule that many on that front would have hoped for.

Formula 1 has made an effort to group the races better. But for many events already under contract and with fixed dates, postponing the races just wasn’t possible.

Negotiations with the highest levels of government

In some cases, attempts to obtain a reprieve even reached the highest levels of government, only to be rebuffed. Event organizers must take into account the time of year, weather conditions and the potential impact on the fan experience in order to generate revenue to cover event fees. This is not the work of a moment.

The shift to a more clustered calendar is an area that Formula 1 will work on going forward, but it will be difficult. She will have to balance the challenge of moving dates against satisfying the organizers with their commitment to sustainability. For the sake of the planet, there can only be one winner here, but it will take time to achieve a proper calendar grouping.

The human cost of the calendar

In recent years, the teams have become increasingly aware that Formula 1’s increasingly busy schedule is taking its toll on the paddock staff. Most believe that staff rotation is not only desirable, but necessary to keep staff fresh and prevent burnout.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said last year that he himself believed this should be written into the rules to meet the pressures of the racing calendar, particularly when it comes to mental health.

But you can’t afford that for all employees. In some cases, the role is so specialized or so critical that it can only be performed by one person, think race engineers for example.

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It is rare to hear another voice on the other end of the radio talking to the drivers. While teams have protocols in place for other staff to step in when needed, the importance of this relationship with the drivers means regular rotation is not practical.

This is a challenge that teams must address to ensure that top talent not only has a good career in Formula 1, but also a long career that is not cut short by burnout.

In the future even 30 races per season?

Another fear of many in Formula 1 is that the 24-race calendar will not stop growing. Domenicali hinted last year that there was demand for up to 30 races, but Formula 1 made it clear that was not the plan.

The Concorde agreement sets the limit at 24 races, which must also be observed. This is not only to ensure that there is not an event saturation affecting not only those working to run the races, but also the interest of fans watching at home.

As tempting as the extra earnings from more races can be for teams in the form of prize money and for the growth of Formula 1 as a whole, a trade-off must be considered when next year’s calendar hits the limit.

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