Talks about introducing a race cap for all F1 personnel are currently underway, according to Mercedes Technical Director James Allison.
Mercedes has confirmed that talks between the FIA, Formula 1, and the teams about the possibility of setting a cap on the number of races that all personnel would be permitted to attend during the season are now underway.
The Formula 1 calendar will see a record 24 races in 2024, which is a huge development that will surely affect the teams and their staff.
Teams will need to constantly move and adjust to new regional time zones and work settings due to the huge number of races, which will result in increased travel time and logistical challenges.
This constant travel could interfere with sleep patterns and personal routines which could result in stress and exhaustion. Therefore, teams must put their staff’s health and wellbeing first in regard to such challenges.
Both Drivers and engineers experienced the repercussions of the calendar’s expansion in Abu Dhabi last month, raising questions as to whether it’s sustainable for all parties involved as well.
The implementation of effective travel plans, the scheduling of periodic breaks and the provision of mental health and stress management support solutions are critical steps aimed at alleviating the adverse impacts of the extended F1 calendar.
Although some teams have already discussed the idea of switching crews in order to shield them from excessive exhaustion, F1 outfits have limited flexibility when it comes to expanding the number of members on their race teams due to the sport’s budget limitations.
Mercedes Technical Director James Allison has stated that talks are still taking place between F1 and the body that oversees the sport to address the problem while operating inside the budgetary limits of the cost cap.
“When you consider there is also winter testing to be done, if you’re one of the travelling folk, then that is more than half the year spent on the road, and in a mode of working that is quite tiring, and quite demanding,” Allison told the Performance People podcast.
“All the people back in the factory who give live support to that as well are having to take that burden on their shoulders.
“So the sport has just started to address it because the cost cap means you can’t reasonably contemplate saying, ‘Well, it’s now a sufficiently large number of races that we need to double up on the roles that do the travelling to allow them to alternate races or anything like that’.
“The financial reality of that makes that prohibitive inside the cost cap, so to try to impose some relief on an otherwise very difficult-to-manage season, the sport has just started to debate internally about whether we should have rules.”
Allison suggests that imposing a cap of 20 races for all F1 employees (apart from the drivers) throughout a 24-race season might help address the problem of staff fatigue.
“Let’s say in a 24-race season, it would mean that no individual – other than the drivers – would be allowed to do all 24 races, a cap imposed, maybe at 20 races, let’s say, just plucking a number from the air.
“It would mean that everyone previously going to have to do the full slog would only be able to do 20 of them, and the teams would have to find it in themselves to put alternative methods of coping with the absence of each member of that travelling community four times per year.
“That will be an interesting set of gymnastics to cope with.”
According to Allison, no team would benefit from an unfair advantage simply because they would all have to overcome that obstacle collectively.
“But the ones that wiggle their way through it effectively could turn it into an advantage by organisationally managing that in a slick way,” he added. “But the net positive would be that at least for a small number of weekends per year, you could rest and recharge if you were otherwise committed to a travelling role.
“That will mean people like Toto, as team principal, would have to respect it as well, the race engineers, the ones who have the closest relationship with the drivers, Bono (Pete Bonington) and Shov (Andrew Shovlin).
“A relationship that lots of people know about because they hear it on the radio…the drivers would have to hear a different voice four times a year.
“We’d have to figure out how to manage that in a good way.”