Talks to cap race attendance for team personnel

Talks to cap race attendance for team personnel

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James Allison has revealed that talks with the FIA are underway to limit the amount of races that team personnel can attend.

This comes as teams prepare for the 2024 season, which, with 24 races, is the busiest in the sport’s history.

This year’s schedule of 22 races certainly affected the teams, especially the final triple-header and the subsequent back-to-back races in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, and some are already warning that next year’s schedule is not sustainable.

“Everybody up and down the paddock… I’ve got so many mechanics who are ill, people in the engineers’ office,” said Mercedes driver and GPDA director, George Russell recently.

“They have really struggled with the constant timezone shifts, the body not knowing where you are, eating at different times, staying in different hotels, different environments, different climates,” he added. “The body’s getting confused.

“I think there are talks for next year about personnel being regulated, 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, I think it is, to do 24 races a season, especially when you see how geographically it still doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.”

No surprise that the schedule is yet another aspect of the sport on which F1 and FIA president, Mohammed ben Sulayem do not agree.

“It’s the number that is required within the market,” insists F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali. “I would say it’s the right balance between that, the complexity of the logistics and of the people that are working.

“I would say this is the number which we should target to be stable for a long time.”

Meanwhile, the FIA president warns that 24 races will “cause a lot of fatigue”.

Mercedes technical director, James Allison has confirmed that talks are ongoing whereby team personnel would be limited to just 20 races a season, a move that would involve all staff, even team bosses, but not the drivers.

“When you consider there is also winter testing to be done, if you’re one of the travelling folk, then that is more than half the year spent on the road, and in a mode of working that is quite tiring, and quite demanding,” he tells the Performance People podcast.

“All the people back in the factory who give live support to that as well are having to take that burden on their shoulders,” adds the Briton. “So the sport has just started to address it because the cost cap means you can’t reasonably contemplate saying, ‘Well, it’s now a sufficiently large number of races that we need to double up on the roles that do the travelling to allow them to alternate races or anything like that’.

“The financial reality of that makes that prohibitive inside the cost cap, so to try to impose some relief on an otherwise very difficult-to-manage season, the sport has just started to debate internally about whether we should have rules.

“Let’s say in a 24-race season, it would mean that no individual, other than the drivers, would be allowed to do all 24 races, a cap would be imposed, maybe at 20 races, let’s say, just plucking a number from the air.

“It would mean that everyone previously going to have to do the full slog would only be able to do 20 of them, and the teams would have to find it in themselves to put alternative methods of coping with the absence of each member of that travelling community four times per year. That will be an interesting set of gymnastics to cope with.”

Allison is confident that no team would be at a disadvantage and that the ten teams “would all face that hurdle together”, while believing that “the ones that wiggle their way through it effectively could turn it into an advantage by organisationally managing that in a slick way.

“The net positive would be that at least for a small number of weekends per year, you could rest and recharge if you were otherwise committed to a travelling role,” he says.

“That will mean people like Toto, as team principal, would have to respect it as well. The race engineers, the ones who have the closest relationship with the drivers, Bono and Shov, a relationship that lots of people know about because they hear it on the radio, the drivers would have to hear a different voice four times a year.

“We’d have to figure out how to manage that in a good way.”

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