What is going on with the 2022 Formula 1 calendar?

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A first draft for the 2022 Formula 1 calendar has just been released, and Stefano Domenicali is once again pushing to produce a record 23 race season. 

The season finale in Abu Dhabi will also be in mid-November, roughly three weeks before the season this year.

The result is 23 races in just 35 weeks, which is just tiring even to imagine, let alone participate in. The Chinese Grand Prix is also set to be dropped from next year’s schedule due to difficulties relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

And finally we will see the Miami Grand Prix make its debut at a new circuit built around the Hard Rock Stadium. But in my opinion, there has once again been a failure to address the massive flaws in the schedule.

As a fan, I have nothing against more races. The weekends always tend to be more boring when there is no F1 to watch and I am not particularly worried about more races diluting the value of a grand prix win.

More races means more entertainment but surely this will take its toll on the staff

More races mean that an unlucky weekend will hurt a driver less. For example, the remainder of the 2021 F1 season is effectively a 6-race mini-season as Hamilton and Verstappen are virtually neck and neck right now.

If one of them were to suffer an engine failure, or crash out through no fault of their own, it could well decide the Championship. However, one must think about the effect such a long season has on the F1 staff.

Next season will feature six races in seven weeks at one point, and constant travelling between countries and continents. There will be little time for members of the paddock to relax, return home to see their loved ones or simply have days off from their job, where they often have to work long hours.

Let’s not forget the staff who have to turn up days before the drivers in order to set up and take apart the facilities.

For triple headers, there is absolutely no respite. More races mean more entertainment but surely this will take its toll on the staff who already have to work incredibly hard to build and maintain race-winning teams.

It was also announced recently that the Chinese Grand Prix will probably not be part of the 2022 calendar, marking the third consecutive year that it has not featured in Formula 1.

This is disappointing for many reasons. F1 is pushing to grow its fan base in China, which is understandable given its large population. It is obvious that hosting a race in China would be a struggle amid Covid-19 but the race could easily be pencilled in for later in the year in the hope that the country-wide restrictions will be eased at that point.

The Shanghai International Circuit is a fantastic track with plenty of overtakes, world class facilities and arguably the most unique corner on the calendar. There is also a reasonable chance that we could see our first Chinese driver on the grid next year – Guanyu Zhou.

Zhou is the favourite for the second Alfa Romeo seat, due to both the talent he has shown in Formula 2 and the massive financial backing he receives. It would be tragic if he cannot race in front of his compatriots in his debut season, but whilst this is not ideal, it is hardly the end of the world.

It is clear that, in drawing up the calendar, the environmental impact has not been thought of at all

Formula 1 is often criticised for the impact it has on the environment. People forget that the cars themselves are much more efficient than your average road car, and the carbon footprint produced is mainly due to the travel between races.

Formula 1 is a global sport meaning travel across the world is inevitable, but it is clear that, in drawing up the calendar, the environmental impact has not been thought of at all.

Teams have to make the 8924km trip from Baku to Montreal in a week. There is a triple-header going from Sochi to Singapore to Japan. The new race in Miami has been added between races in Italy and Spain. Surely races in the USA and Canada should be next to each other in the calendar to minimise travel.

The Canadian Grand Prix is tricky to organise due to the fact that it has to be held in summer so that it is warm enough. I would assume that it is tricky to move the timing of the Miami Grand Prix as the venue will have to host NFL games as well, but why not move the Canadian Grand Prix to the week after?

Why is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June, when the warm climate makes it one of the more flexible race weekends? Wouldn’t it be better if it came after Sochi, or even around the Middle Eastern races? After all, there are plenty of those to choose from.

These decisions have really baffled me as it seems that these are avoidable problems and could really help F1 in its push to become carbon neutral. It would not even cost them that much of the money that they all love so much.

Image: Kroiz via Creative Commons

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