F1 CEO hits back at drivers’ schedule gripes

Thu, 25 April 2024, 11:00

Apr.25 (GMM) Stefano Domenicali is taking a hard-line stance against drivers griping about Formula 1’s ever-intensifying schedule.

Max Verstappen complained about the extra “stress” the sprint weekend format puts on the mechanics in particular, with Lando Norris agreeing: “It’s not healthy for them.

“It’s not sustainable,” the McLaren driver added.

These new complaints are on top of existing concerns about the unprecedentedly long calendars these days, with 24 races last year, 24 in 2024, and another 24 now on the table for next season.

“I talk to them,” F1 CEO Domenicali is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint, “and if you don’t want to drive in Formula 1, you are not obliged to do so.

“It’s a question of respect for the fans. They want to see them race and it’s a responsibility that we have towards all our fans, our partners, promoters, sponsors, broadcasters, everyone.

“We need heroes who enjoy what they do, but I’m sure they’re having fun.”

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko sees both sides of the debate, especially as the energy drink company is paying extra this year to host the sprint format for the Austrian GP.

“It is simply a bonus for the spectators and therefore for the organiser that the fans are offered qualifying on Friday and a race on Saturday,” he told Speed Week.

“On the sporting side, I’m more of a fan of the traditional process. So as an organiser yes. As a racing fan? No.”

Verstappen also said in China that he is opposed to rumoured moves to expand the number of sprint events per year from the current 6 to 12 in the near future.

“Why not?” Domenicali responded when asked if more sprint races are a possibility.

“They are great, because that way there is excitement every day. We have a duty to ensure that there is action on the track every day. Out of respect for the fans who come here,” said the Italian.

Finally, Marko indicated that he has no major gripe about the proposal to expand the points-paying positions to P12 for 2025, which will be debated at the F1 Commission on Thursday.

“It’s because a two-class society has developed,” he said. “If the drivers of the best five teams have no technical problems and Mr (Lance) Stroll has a normal day, the other five racing teams get no points.

“The cost cap has brought the field closer together, which leads to extremely exciting multi-way battles in the midfield. This should be rewarded in some way,” Marko added.

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