Allison: F1 currently discussing a “cap” on the number of races an individual can do in 2024

Spread the love

The increase of race weekends in the 2024 calendar has brought discussions on the working conditions of team personnel during the course of the season. James Allison, Mercedes Technical Director, talked about this topic on the ‘Performance People’ podcast.

“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.

“All the people back in the factory who give live support to that as well are having to take that burden on their shoulders.”

The subject seems to be at the centre of conversations about how to dictate rules that allow the staff around the Circus to cope with a 24-race calendar, creating a routine that allows for changes and rests from travel for all those involved.

For Allison, one solution could be to impose a maximum of 20 races per person, excluding the drivers. It’s something they are currently discussing inside the sport.

“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 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.

“But the ones that wiggle their way through it effectively could turn it into an advantage by organisationally managing that in a slick way.”

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

With an increasingly long and demanding calendar, a rotating system has to be implemented, even at the expense of the absence of key personalities within the teams, which rarely miss a race weekend, such as team principals and engineers.

It would also give the teams a new challenge to bed in new race engineers during a season. For example, Lando Norris had Will Joseph and Jose Manuel López as his race engineer at McLaren during various stages of the 2023 campaign.

“But 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.

“That will mean people like Toto [Wolff], as team principal, would have to respect it as well.

“The race engineers, the ones who have the closest relationship with the drivers, Bono [Pete Bonington] and Shov [Andrew Shovlin], 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.”