With the money offered by the likes of Bahrain and Abu Dhabi to claim the prestigious races that ‘book-end’ the Formula One World Championship, Australia has become a stand-alone event.
Though there is a week’s break before and after the Melbourne event, with the teams travelling out early to Australia in order to acclimatise themselves, the demands on personnel are every bit as tough as a double-header.
Consequently, drivers feel that moving forward the Australian race should be run as a back-to-back event.
“I think having Melbourne in-between races, especially as a standalone, is too tough for the teams and everybody,” said George Russell during today’s press conference.
“People came out on Saturday and Sunday to get acclimatised to the conditions and the time zone change and it’s just too much I think. I think it needs to be thought about more.”
Following the back-to-back in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia the teams travelled back to the European – mainly UK – bases, before making the arduous journey back to Australia. Russell believes that it would make more sense to run the Melbourne race as a back-to-back with one of the events in the Middle East.
“There’s no reason we can’t do it back-to-back with one of the Middle-Eastern races,” said the Mercedes star, who stopped short of calling for a triple-header start to the season.
“It feels like another double-header for all the teams with the amount of time they spend in this part of the world,” he added. “As the season is getting longer and longer we need to find a better balance.”
“It works well at the moment because we’re doing the winter testing in Bahrain so it makes sense to stay there for the season-opener,” said Sergio Perez, “but (Australia) really has to be back-to-back with one of those races. Just coming to Australia for a single race is quite painful for everyone.”
Meanwhile, as F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali suggests a calendar of up to 30 races, Max Verstappen believes the schedule should actually be around half that amount.
In a promotional video for Kayo Sports the world champion called for “15 to 18” races, though he believes Melbourne should be retained.
“Melbourne is included, don’t you worry,” he laughed. “But I think if you go over that, not only just for us, but the mechanics are travelling even more than us and they’re even more away from their families.
“It’s just not do-able, it’s not sustainable,” he added.
“I think we need should keep on a limit,” agreed Fernando Alonso, “because I think for the teams it’s quite demanding how the schedule is now, especially as we don’t have so many races in Europe anymore.”
Check out our Friday gallery from Melbourne, here.