Vasseur defends F1’s 24-race calendar, but admits “rotation” of staff between events will be needed

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Ferrari F1 team principal, Frederic Vasseur believes the sport should be “positive” about having an ever-expanding calendar which will feature 24 events in 2024 – but admits some sort of staff rotation will be necessary in order to maximise performance and reliability after what was a very long and exhausting season already in 2023.

Photo Credits: Scuderia Ferrari

After a gruelling 2023 season which featured 22 grand prix’s and should have been 24 – the Chinese GP got cancelled due to concerns with Covid-19, whilst the Emilia Romagna GP was abandoned after heavy flooding hit the region just days before the race weekend – many drivers and team principals have been vocal about the prospect of 2024 being even tougher, with 24 races on the cards again.

When asked about the effects of the calendar on his staff, Vasseur told selected media in a press conference at Maranello during Ferrari’s yearly Christmas lunch that he feels the cost cap is not an issue for the ever-expanding calendar, and instead pointed out that mechanics and staff can suffer from such a long season – which would in turn impact performance and even pit stop times – as was seen in the season finale in Abu Dhabi:

“Each race that we are adding to the calendar, we have an extra [allowance] on the budget cap,” he said. “Secondly, we need to have the best approach for the mechanics, because it’s part of the performance, it’s part of the reliability.

“It was not strange that there were more mistakes in the pit stops in Abu Dhabi than some [other races]. I think that everybody was exhausted.”

The Frenchman believes that there is “room for improvement” in order to better manage such a calendar, and proposes a system which rotates the workforce between races should suit the long calendar, avoiding mechanics and key staff from attending every single event:

“It means that we need to think about perhaps having a rotation in terms of the mechanics, or to keep [some] mechanics to do the races and to have another group of mechanics at home, taking care of the cars when they are back at the factory.

“I think we have room to do something, we have room to manage it in a better way.”

“I’m quite positive [about it], [but] I don’t want to be the new Franz Tost,” he jokingly said, referring to the former AlphaTauri F1 boss recent remarks about people “unhappy” with the expanding calendar should leave the sport entirely.

The Ferrari team boss pointed out the sport’s struggles to put a calendar together during the pandemic as a reminder of just how difficult it was to get to a position where there may even be too many nowadays, and said there is no need to “reduce” the number of races – but still stressed that there needs to be some way of rotating staff between events in order to avoid further issues with exhaustion:

“We have to keep in mind that a couple of years ago we were struggling to find tracks and to find events, and today we have a lot of proposals, that we have a situation [in which we are able] to do 24 events, and also to be probably a bit selective on the events, [but] we have to work on the calendar, for sure.

“Next year, we’ll have the first part of the season on the far east with Melbourne, Japan and China in a row, so we’ll allow some mechanics and drivers to sometimes stay in this side of the world, it will be helpful.

“Then we have to manage properly the team, to give them some rest, but I don’t think we have to reduce the number of events.”