F1 drivers and team bosses talk about the standalone Australian GP taking a toll on them, as they hope to have it clubbed with another race.

Due to COVID-19, the F1 calendar had to be shuffled around and since then Australia has lost its ‘Round 1’ tag for the time being. While 2020 saw a re-start in Europe, the 2021 and 2022 seasons had Bahrain as the first event with pre-season test at the same venue.

In fact, Australia only featured on the 2022 calendar and it is not clear where it would be positioned for 2023. But the F1 drivers and few team bosses reckon that the Oceania round is better as the first event and or clubbed with a Middle Eastern round.

Doing it as a standalone takes away a lot of traveling and incurs huge amount of logistics for things to be flown or shipped in and out. Even for personnel, they all have to adhere to the different timezone and adjust accordingly.

Here’s the F1 drivers’ on the topic:

Russell: “I think Melbourne as a season opener was really cool, because everybody came out here early. And it was a lot of excitement and anticipation, but I think having Melbourne in between races, especially as a standalone is too tough for the teams and everybody. People came out on Saturdays and Sundays to get acclimatised to the conditions, to the time zone change and it’s just too much I think. I think it needs to be thought about more. I think there’s no reason why we couldn’t do it back-to-back with all one of the Middle Eastern races. But yeah, it feels like another double header for all of the teams with the amount of time they spend in this part of the world. And as the season is getting longer and longer, we need to find a better balance.

“I think if it’s geographically correct, then there’s no reason why… We’re happy for the race to be at any point in the season. We obviously race very far east with Japan and Singapore, China, [which we] obviously don’t have this year, but I’m sure it will be on the calendar or it is on the calendar from next year onwards. I just think there’s a better compromise to be had, as it can be done. I know there’s a huge amount of limitation involved. But yeah, I think we need to come to Australia, we need to come to this part of the world, but as we said, as a standalone I think it’s just too much for everyone.”

Perez: “I fully agree with George. I think it works well at the moment because we are doing the winter testing in Bahrain, so it makes sense to stay there. But it really has to be back-to-back with one of those races because just coming to Australia, for a single race it’s quite painful for everyone. We definitely all want to come here. But I think there’s things we can improve that and in all fairness to F1, Australia hasn’t been in the calendar for the last for the last years, so I’m sure that going forward so they can have a look at it.”

Zhou: “For me, I think, it’s not about where to place Australia it’s more like to have a race that if we come to this part of the world, to have a race that is more close to here rather than going all the way back to Europe for the next race. So that’s what makes it for the team very difficult with all the travel and always the freight going through, out and back.”

Schumacher: “Yeah, I mean, I agree with the fact that teams have to move back and forwards quite a lot. I mean, we’re going basically from Australia now to Europe to then go to Miami, so It’s like we travel three continents in the next three races. So yeah, per se, otherwise, I enjoy coming here early and spending time here. But yeah, I understand that for the team, obviously it’s kind of difficult.”

Here’s selected F1 bosses:

Szafnauer: “Well, it’s always great to come here. And the fans make it a lot easier. I mean, for all of us, it’s on the opposite side of the world. We travel, I don’t know 12,000 miles to get here. However, it’s well worth it. And we enjoy coming. We do have to in the future, though, look at logistics and how to make it a bit easier on the teams as the races increase, the number of races increase. So next year I’m sure we’ll take that into consideration. And the last couple of years, the calendar was very COVID influenced as well. So we had to make some extraordinary decisions as to where we go, based on what the different countries allowed. So I think in the future, once we’re past the pandemic, we’ll have a smoother calendar.”

Vasseur: “Yeah, it’s true that with more and more races on the calendar one of the key aspects of our business will become the freight quite soon, not just for us, but I think it’s already the case in MotoGP or some other events. And we’ll have to take care about the circuits that we are doing and the way that we are the organising the race, because at one stage it will become tricky to be on time on every single event but to be first or second or third races in the championship, I’m not sure that it making a big difference because before race one we have testing and it’s even more challenging for us to do race one in Australia, because very often we are not ready for race one.

Wolff: “I’m sure that Stefano is going to streamline that for next year, to make it easier with logistics. At the end, we love coming here, but it puts strain on the people that isn’t yet felt so much because we’re just at race three in the calendar. But certainly it takes a toll on us, on our people. I think this is an idea we are all on. You know, the Middle East is on the way to Australia and on the way back and I think like it has been in the past.”

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