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George Russell raises illness concern ahead of record-breaking F1 season

Next year’s calendar stretches to 24 races, from Bahrain in February to Abu Dhabi in December

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Wednesday 06 December 2023 16:27 GMT
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George Russell believes it’s not sustainable for team personnel to do every race next year in what is a record-breaking 24-race schedule.

F1 raced 22 times this year, due to the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola. However, with both those events back on the calendar in 2024, the sport will have a record 24 race meets.

The season starts in Bahrain on 29 February – though pre-season testing will be the week before – and ends on 8 December in Abu Dhabi.

Russell, who admitted to regularly coughing during the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he finished on the podium, revealed his concerns for team members given next year’s calendar and the questionable arrangement of races given time-zones and geography.

"Everybody up and down the paddock – I’ve got so many mechanics who are ill, people in the engineers’ office,” Russell said in Abu Dhabi.

"They have really struggled with the constant timezone shifts, the body not knowing where you are, eating at different times, staying in different hotels, different environments, different climates. The body’s getting confused.

"I think there are talks for next year about personnel being regulated, that they can’t do every single race. I think that would be a good thing.

“I don’t think it’s sustainable for 4,000 people, I think it is, to do 24 races a season, especially when you see how geographically it still doesn’t make a huge amount of sense."

George Russell has revealed his concerns ahead of next season’s 24-race calendar (Getty Images)

There was criticism as to how the 2023 season concluded, with the season-ending Abu Dhabi race following on immediately from the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, which is 12 hours behind.

In a routine familiar this year, the FIA and Formula 1 seemingly don’t agree on next year’s schedule too.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says that the number of races “cause a lot of fatigue”, while F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali insists 24 is the “right number.”

Domenicali added: "It’s the number that is required within the market. I would say it’s the right balance between that, the complexity of the logistics and of the people that are working.

“I would say this is the number which we should target to be stable for a long time."

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