There is growing support for a regional F1 schedule, but it could create a problem in the US
- There is growing support in F1 for a regional schedule to ease the travel burden in the sport.
- The current schedule forces teams to hop from continent to continent seemingly every race.
Some much-needed relief could be coming soon to Formula One teams forced to bounce back and forth all over the world throughout the 22-race season.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is the latest to support changing the schedule to group more races based on their region, thus minimizing the amount of travel required between races and saving the teams money.
"If you look at the calendar, it makes sense to group some of the races together, whether it is some of the American races, some of the Asian races, and Europe, obviously," Horner said, according to GP Fans. "Some of the calendar this year when you look at the geographics of it, Azerbaijan to Montreal doesn't [make sense]. Going to Australia for a weekend is about as expensive as you could make it."
In addition to the races mentioned by Horner, this season's schedule has a few other trips that make little sense geographically. One nine-week stretch saw the sport go from the Middle East (Saudi Arabia) to Australia, followed by Italy, the United States (Miami), and then back to Europe (Spain).
Williams driver Alex Albon also noted the wear and tear on the drivers.
"Twenty-three races is tough, and on top of 23 races, we do much more than that," Albon told Insider before the Miami Grand Prix. "I've spent about two and a half weeks at my house since the beginning of the year, in total. I'm living in a suitcase. If I could do it differently, I would probably structure it a bit better. You know, we go to Italy, we go to Miami, and then we go back to Europe again. It's a lot of jet lag, a lot of adjustments to be done."
The obvious solution creates a new problem for F1
While grouping races based on regions makes a lot of sense financially and for the health of the drivers and teams, it would introduce a new problem, especially in the US — the risk of oversaturation.
There are already concerns that F1 is pushing too hard, too soon in expanding the US market with new races in Miami this year and Las Vegas next year, joining the US Grand Prix in Austin. Any problems associated with the US expansion will be magnified if all three races are run back-to-back-to-back.
"It would be great to go Vegas, Miami, Austin, but obviously, I don't think that works because you want to get returning customers," Albon said. "I'm sure there's some hardcore fans here, but I'm sure they don't wanna do the triple trip one after the other. So there is a balance to understand, but it's getting tough. It's getting tough for the people involved in the sport."
One solution could be to group all five North American races and mix in Mexico City and Montreal to help spread out the American races. However, even if Brazil is included, three US races in a 6-round stretch might still be too much for an American fan base trying to find its way in the F1 world.
A better solution might be to split the six races in the Americas up into two trips. An early-season grouping of Miami, Mexico City, and Brazil would leave Austin and Vegas together later in the year with Montreal.
Either way, changes are coming, but the solution won't be as easy as it might appear.
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