Shorter Race Weekends Could Help Get the Formula 1 Season Back on Track
Compared to other major sports organizations, Formula 1 seemed hesitant to postpone its events. Part of that is likely because F1 isn’t (generally) a contact sport, but a bigger factor is probably the herculean logistics involved in a race. Other sports can pretty easily cram events back-to-back, but F1 has to overcome the great complexity of shipping cars, parts, garages, hospitality centers, and more worldwide, while also giving teams the time to repair and refine their cars.
It’s this that makes so-called “flyaway” races—those outside of Europe—hard to pull off in quick succession. In a normal year, it requires multiple “sea kits” shipped out long before races and a lot of chartered 747s to make everything work. But with the coronavirus outbreak suddenly postponing the first two months of races, F1 managing director Ross Brawn expects aggressive measures will be required to make the schedule work.
One possible measure is eliminating the August break, which is likely to be unpopular among teams that want time to close any speed gaps that emerge at the start of the season. But even that won’t be enough, which is why Brawn told Sky Sports that F1 is considering pivoting toward two-day weekends for the rest of 2020. Typically, a race weekend involves events on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Changing to a condensed schedule that left Friday free for transportation and tinkering would make back-to-back race weekends more manageable.
Brawn expects some pushback from the teams. He’s asking for flexibility, but teams are already often pressed for time on race weekends. Getting them to speed up that schedule and accommodate back-to-back races won’t be easy, but it may be the only way to salvage this year’s season.
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