F1 Boss Warns Drivers Are Replaceable Amid Criticism of Expanding Race Calendar

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali defends expanding race calendar, dismissing drivers' concerns over workload. Debate highlights tension between commercial interests and well-being of teams.

Salman Khan
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F1 Boss Warns Drivers Are Replaceable Amid Criticism of Expanding Race Calendar

F1 Boss Warns Drivers Are Replaceable Amid Criticism of Expanding Race Calendar

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has taken a firm stance against drivers complaining about the sport's expanding race calendar. Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso have criticized the increasing quantity of races, with Verstappen opposing plans to expand the number of sprint events from 6 to 12. Domenicali warned that drivers are replaceable if they are unwilling to race, stating that it is a responsibility to the fans.

Verstappen, the three-time defending champion, won the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, his fourth victory in five races this season. However, he expressed concerns about the increasing number of races, stating that the updated sprint format is better but that it should not be overdone as it puts more stress on the mechanics. Lando Norris and Sergio Perez also echoed Verstappen's concerns, saying that the toll on mechanics and engineers is not healthy and "not sustainable."

Despite the pushback, F1 is committed to maintaining the 24-race calendar, signaling its intent to expand the global reach and appeal of the sport. Domenicali dismissed disapproval from Verstappen about the 24-race calendar for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, saying that 24 races were optimal for the sport's growth and popularity globally, and that they have tried to regionalize the races to make the sport more sustainable.

Why this matters: The debate over the expanding F1 race calendar highlights the tension between the sport's commercial interests and the well-being of its drivers and teams. As F1 continues to grow in popularity and expand into new markets, finding a balance that satisfies all stakeholders will be crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of the sport.

Red Bull's Helmut Marko acknowledged both the benefits and drawbacks of the sprint format, while also supporting a proposal to expand the points-paying positions to 12th place to reward the midfield teams. Domenicali emphasized the importance of providing excitement for the fans every day, indicating that more sprint races are a possibility. "I would like to see the cars on the track every day to respect the fans," Domenicali stated, hinting at the possibility of more sprint weekends in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • F1 CEO Domenicali defends expanding 24-race calendar, says drivers are replaceable.
  • Verstappen, Alonso, Norris, Perez criticize increasing races, say it's unsustainable.
  • F1 committed to 24-race calendar, aims to expand global reach and appeal.
  • Debate highlights tension between F1's commercial interests and driver/team well-being.
  • Domenicali hints at possibility of more sprint races to provide excitement for fans.