Formula 1 has been on an expansion kick in the last few years. The pinnacle of motorsport has been adding events and is pursuing a 24-race calendar for 2024. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has called for the growth to halt, however, stating that the season is already long enough.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Leclerc noted his opposition to any further expansion of the F1 calendar. "Not more," said the Ferrari driver when asked his opinion on the 24-race calendar for the 2024 season. Leclerc expressed an understanding behind the expansion, noting that F1 was experiencing a boom period. "At the same time, I feel like at one point, it just gets too much," said Leclerc.
The ever-longer F1 calendar has been the source of some ire in the paddock, particularly amongst team mechanics and crew members. "I think the drivers that are complaining probably don't realize that the mechanics, the engineers, the guys on the logistics are here three days before us and leave two days after," said Leclerc, adding "I think for them, it starts to be quite a bit."
Previously, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen noted that the additional commitment could be frustrating for drivers. "I feel like I have to do too much and skip other things, so I sometimes think, 'Is still worth it?'" Verstappen told Motorsport.com.
Next year's calendar promises to put teams through some brutal stretches on the road. The series will feature three triple headers. The middle of the season will see a triple header followed by two double headers, while the following triple headers are lined up for the last six races of the season The stage is set for an utterly draining slog to the line.
It bears noting that F1 has been trying for a 24-race season for some time. Both the 2022 and 2023 seasons were intended to hit this mark, but the cancellation of the 2022 Russian Grand Prix and the 2022 and 2023 Chinese Grand Prix has prevented that thus far.
For now, rules limit F1 to a maximum of 24 races in any one year. However, that could change when the Concorde Agreement comes up for revision in 2026. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has previously talked of the potential of expanding the season up to 30 races, a huge leap over the current calendar. Meanwhile, there has also been talk of expanding into a race in Africa, which would expand the current roster if another race did not make way for the new event.
Leclerc notes that such an extension poses the risk of diluting the value of a Grand Prix, likening it to if the Olympics ran every year. "I feel like if you always have a grand prix every weekend, then you probably will lose a little bit of that special feeling you get whenever you get to a race," said the Ferrari driver.
While the sport is currently prospering thanks to its newfound popularity via Netflix, F1 would be well-advised not to over-commit. Adding a bunch of extra races costs serious money, particularly for the teams. If the attention and the dollars suddenly dried up, things could rapidly come crashing down in a big way.
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