Max Verstappen slams F1’s sustainability program

F1 crews travel across the globe between the Las Vegas GP and Abu Dhabi GP after a long season

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Max Verstappen has called out Formula 1’s sustainability agenda following the travel and distance between the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi GP.

A distance of 8203 miles (13200km) is between Las Vegas and the Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates with a commercial flight time ranging between 19 hours and 28 hours.

Nonetheless, F1 teams had to haul themselves across the globe in four days or less in order to keep to the calendar, increasing the fatigue they already feel after 21 races, a double-header and jet lag.

“I definitely think for the future [improving the calendar], of course for next year it’s not possible,” Verstappen said to media. “But it’s a little bit odd that we are on the other side of the world basically before getting here.

“Especially when you’re talking about sustainability. It’s probably not very sustainable, not only for the emissions, but also for the human body. Eventually we always deal with it, but I don’t think it’s great.

“We’ll just talk to F1 about that, if there’s something that we can do for the future to make it a little bit more of a normal end to the to the year.”

What would Verstappen change?

Verstappen would likely want to see fewer races based on his previous comments on the matter of schedule congestion and whilst he was grateful that the Abu Dhabi GP allowed him to catch up on sleep, he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to keep that long term.

His solution appears to be to schedule the calendar based on regional races. For example, to bunch Europe together, Asia together, the Americas together, which could drastically reduce the miles travelled and the logistical demand on teams.

“I don’t mind having a triple-header when it’s like the Middle East,” Verstappen said. “It’s the flight time to go from fully left [Las Vegas] to go here, it’s probably a bit much. Next year, we cannot change that but hopefully in the future, we can have a chat and see what’s possible for best for everyone.

“It’s already a lot of races, a lot of travelling, in the end like after the summer break, basically. We can do a little bit of a better job with placing the Grand Prix.”

The 2024 F1 calendar will be the longest in the sport’s history

Leclerc backs Verstappen’s call

Leclerc noted that whilst he was fatigued, drivers are quite privileged in the sense that they do not have to arrive extra early to build the cars, set up the motorhomes and various other tasks.

It’s his compassion for the mechanics and engineers that drives his desire to change the calendar, and it’s not an uncommon theme for mechanics to eventually walk away from F1 as they look for a better work-life balance relative to salaries.

“I was so tired that I slept like a baby the first night, so jetlag wasn’t a problem,” Leclerc said to media. “But obviously speaking around in the paddock, especially with the mechanics and engineers, everyone seemed to be really, really tired and really struggling with it.

“Next year I think will be even more difficult because we’ll have three races in a row which after that, I believe, that we might rethink a little bit the way we organise the last part of the season.”

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