Why triple-headers should not become "the new standard" in F1
Formula 1 has been forced to adapt to a very different world in 2020, notably with a series of triple-headers lined up to start this season.
Voices in the paddock, however, are warning this cannot continue into next year.
The global Covid-19 pandemic naturally forced F1 to delay the start of the season by 112 days, and although only 10 races have so far been officially confirmed on the calendar, it already contains three triple-headers.
Following the back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring, a trip to Hungary now follows to complete the first; a Silverstone double and the Spanish Grand Prix comprise the second; while Spa Francorchamps, Monza and Mugello make up the third.
This may be acceptable in the short term, but as a long-term strategy for the sport and with CEO Chase Carey open in his ambition for a 25-race calendar in future years, it seems an avenue few are keen to repeat on a regular basis.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, speaking as someone who has to consider the wellbeing of his staff, advised this pattern should not become "the new standard".
"I think after we have done the third one [race], nobody has a problem to go home again for a week at least," said Seidl.
"It makes sense to do three, which is already a big ask to our people, to our guys. But at the same time, we all understand that we have special circumstances this year.
"It's important to get as many races under the belt as possible, and therefore I think everyone in the team understands, in the paddock also, that we have to make this commitment.
"Also looking forward, once we get back to normality, it's also clear that this shouldn't be the new standard."
The first F1 triple-header was held in 2018, with races shuffled around to avoid a clash with the FIFA World Cup final.
Even at that point, there was talk that mechanics would burn out and a second crew may be required for an event.
The drivers, who freely admit they would race every day if they could, recognise the stress consecutive events puts on the team.
Lewis Hamilton expressed his feeling on the subject when he said: "Me, as a driver, I feel that we can do a lot of back-to-back races, the three days in between are definitely enough.
"So, in this kind of season I think it’s fine, but it’s not just about me, it’s about a large group of people who are on the road constantly and are going to be away from their families even longer.
"I think it’s really going to be heavy for our team members. I know they love racing, but they do have families they would love to see, so I really hope things in the world get a bit better for us."
Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was of a similar viewpoint. He said: "From a drivers’ point of view we are really committed to this sport, like any team member is, and we just love racing, so it’s hard to put a hard limit from a driver’s point of view.
"At least we are in Europe so travelling distances are pretty easy so that makes things easier, so triple-headers I don’t really see them as an issue, even if there will be many of them.
"But, for sure, there are many team members who have families, small kids at home, and it’s not fair to be such a long time away from their family."
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was also asked for his opinion on triple-headers following his podium finish in the Styrian Grand Prix. As the Dutchman pointed out, F1 is not the be-all and end-all of life.
Verstappen added: "I do think that after here or four weeks it’s good to go home and have a bit of time off, not only for the driver but especially for the mechanics, you know, with a family.
"Otherwise they could file for divorce and you don’t want that to happen! It’s good to visit family and friends and that it’s not only F1 in your head.
"Sometimes you need to relax and think about other stuff because F1 is not everything. It’s part of your life but there are also other things you have to do."
While F1 is a business and Carey's ambition may yet be realised, he would be wise to take into consideration the views of those at the sharp end.
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