As Formula 1 gears up for a record 23-race season, elder statesman and Formula 1 legend Alain Prost is concerned about the negative effects the marathon schedule, including triple-header Grand Prix weekends, might have on teams and fans.
The 2022 F1 season kicks off at the Bahrain Grand Prix on 18-20 March and is scheduled to end at the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 18-20 November… in an ideal world of course.
Which the Covid-19 pandemic has made far from ideal and could again play havoc with the schedule as it did last year when the races in China, Canada, Singapore, Japan and Australia were cancelled (but are back on the 2022 F1 calendar) while a host of new venues were fast-tracked to make help up the numbers, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
There were also two back-to-back races at Red Bull Ring under the guise of the Austrian Grand Prix and the Styrian Grand Prix. Portugal’s Autodromo do Algarve was brought in as the Round 3 substitute, while Zandvoort hosted the Dutch Grand Prix for the first time since 1985.
Only time will tell how many races actually happen amid the pandemic in 2022
Nevertheless, full credit to F1 bosses and their team for making the 22-race season happen last year, however it can be questioned if 23 races in a year are simply too much for the sport. Is there a risk of oversaturation? And burnout?
Prost, an advisor to the Alpine team, gave his views on the 2022 F1 Calendar in a recent In the Fast Lane podcast: “It’s very difficult for the teams, the people travelling, the mechanics, engineers and team principals.
“It also has to stay exceptional. I remember the first time we had three races in a row and even for me, I was losing a little bit of interest in a way because it’s too close. It’s a compromise between the number of races, number of fans and obviously the money that you can generate.
“But, if you have more success and you will bring more sponsors in, maybe we could also have fewer races. It looks like it’s not the way that we are going,” he added.
The Professor, a four-time F1 World Champion is also against the dumbing-down of the sport with gimmicks such as reverse order grids, even in Sprint races: “I am much more for the tradition and Formula 1 has to stay the way it is.
“We have more and more young fans, with the Netflix series, and we have attracted some young people, which is fantastic. They obviously like this kind of race that we have seen, the sprint race and Lewis’ race in Brazil, but F1 has to stay more traditional,” reckoned Prost, referring to Lewis Hamilton’s incredible weekend at Interlagos.
2022 F1 Calendar (Subject To Change)