With the new race weekend structure seemingly only increasing the amount of commitments, Max Verstappen has advocated for a change in F1 drivers’ media activity.
In addition to the all-new technical rules for 2021, which required the vehicles to be completely overhauled, the race weekend was also reduced from four to three days, with the Thursday eliminated.
Track walks and media interviews were formerly held on Thursday, but these were rescheduled to Friday morning to give drivers an extra day away from the circuit.
On a Thursday, though, there is still a lot of media activity, both official and unofficial, which is excellent for F1 fans but not so good for the drivers.
The Red Bull driver has spoken out about it, expressing his dissatisfaction with being taken around the media enclosure by a Red Bull press staffer to speak to various TV companies…all of whom ask him the same questions.
“I think it’s more about how we are doing the press conferences and the media activities. I think it was better before,” said the Dutchman.
“Now our Thursday is very long, which officially is not really a day anymore. But actually for us it’s the same amount, or even more on a Thursday, and even more now on a Friday when you come in early.
“Coming in early isn’t a problem, but your whole day is longer. So going to more races, you would like to have a shorter weekend.
“But actually now, with more races, we are also having longer weekends, so at least mwore days we are actually at the track and doing stuff. So that definitely needs to change.”
Talking about the different TV interviews, Verstappen added: “We do this (press conference), then we go outside and have to speak to all the individual [television] media.”
“But they all ask the same question. And you basically are repeating yourself six or seven times. You try to keep it interesting to try and word it in a different way but at the end of the day you say the same thing, right?
“What you see in other sports, when they have a press conference, there are a lot of mics just brought together. And actually, instead of giving the broadcasters just two questions each, they all have six, eight or 10 questions just in one go and they can all broadcast it.
“So I think that’s also way more efficient and nicer for everyone, and you get a lot more out of the drivers.”
George Russell, director of the GPDA, said it was an issue on which the drivers were very united and needed a solution on.
“I’ve only been around for three years but between all of the drivers, we are incredibly united and we’ve got constant communication with F1 and the FIA to try to improve our sport in every single aspect,” said the Mercedes racer.
“It’s forever changing but there isn’t more to elaborate at the moment. But I think it’s important that between drivers, F1 and the FIA we are all on the same page and all pushing in the same direction.”