Formula 1 keep taking steps in the wrong direction and the increasing number of races is a repeated sign that the focus is making money and building a show, not the desire of fans or sporting values. If this trend continues, we will have drivers winning the world championship with six races to go and the value of prestigious records, such as ‘most poles per season’ or most race wins per season’ vanished.
The end of the 20th century had 16 as the set number of races, with few exceptions along the way. Since 2010, however, Formula 1 saw at least 19 races per year, except for the covid-troubled 2020 season. CEO Stefano Domenicali said the direction is to go beyond the number of 24 races set in 2023. He said Formula 1 should aim to 30.Embed from Getty Images
What this does is remove the prestige of the single race, to the contribution of a long championship, which removes unpredictability and only favours the fastest car.
Whilst it’s somewhat fair that people with better resources have more time to make up ground if they encounter problems, this makes the outcome of the season very predictable. How can we see underdog stories, if we give so many opportunities to catch up? The result is a season in which the winner runs away with the title and the competition is virtually over by the halfway stage. The title was decided with two or more races to go in seven of the last 10 season, with margins of over three race wins which could at least be prevented if the season is shorter.
What this would create is a decreased likelihood of having a big margin to play with, and every error will count. There is simply less time to make up the ground lost. Reliability and driver errors will return to being a key factor. Lewis Hamilton’s errors at Imola, Baku and Budapest in 2021 would prove costly and not be overseen. The fact he had the fastest car allowed him to make up ground and have a season finale with Max Verstappen, dominating the last four races and losing the title to a strategic error.Embed from Getty Images
And shall we talk about the stress put on staff?
We should not forget that people that work in Formula 1 are humans, not robots. They need time to recover from the intensity of races, and it’s not like some people might think, that off the races they are sitting at home doing nothing. They work, analyse performance and develop the team. If they race every week, when can they find the time to do this? Again, teams with a larger workforce, namely Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari (what a coincidence, the highest teams in the standings), will have an easier time.
All this will do is decrease the quality of performance and overly stress the people involved. Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel, often a loud voice when it comes to well-being and sustainability, said: “It’s a job that you’re busy all weekdays and nearly every weekend, so you have no time for yourself.” Why does nobody listen to this?Embed from Getty Images
Well, the reason is simple. MONEY.
If we look at the last seven tracks to have entered the Formula 1 World Championship, the trend is quite clear. In 2014, Russia hosted their first race. At least, Formula 1 took appropriate action at distancing itself from the war, by scrapping the plans to race there in 2022, but it’s a nation that often entered the news for the wrong reasons.
Recent additions were Qatar, already in the spotlights following its World Cup hosting bid in 2022 due to the human rights, and Saudi Arabia, where a missile landed trackside during Free Practice earlier this year. A missile! Not only the workers are under serious stress, but their safety is at danger, now. And then there was Miami, in what looked like a street show to attract VIPs who don’t even know how many wheels a Formula 1 car has.
In this list feature popular, historic tracks like Mugello and Portimao, who had great reception among the fans, but haven’t survived due to lack of funds and have been removed.
This is no longer the championship of prestige and competition, but the championship where money has by now destroyed the hopes of the fans to see a competitive season.