The FIA and Formula 1 announced on Tuesday a historic calendar for the 2023 season, since it will consist of 24 Grands Prix. A new record, which now makes the symbolic bar of 25 races per year almost reached. An objective that has always been targeted by Liberty Media since its takeover of Formula 1 in early 2017. Over the years, and despite a Covid pandemic which upset many plans in 2020, the owners of F1 have approached their goal: to offer a Grand Prix almost every other week in a year. And if we remove the off-season as well as the summer break, the pace inevitably becomes hellish.
When this ambition of a 25-round championship began to be seriously discussed a few years ago, there was no shortage of reactions. At the time, three World Champions, whose word carries naturally more than others, expressed a strong skepticism. Two of them will still be there in 2023, faced with their contradictions.
The most adamant of the three, in 2017, was Fernando Alonso. As the Spanish driver began to taste other disciplines, skipping the Monaco Grand Prix for the Indianapolis 500 Miles, he assured that he could not imagine for a single moment competing in such a busy season in the future. « I read that they wanted to make a 25-race championship. When I started in F1 there were 16, now there are 20. If they tell me there will be 25, I will retire »promised the double World Champion.
threat that has not been carried out. On the contrary, despite the trend towards an ever denser calendar, Fernando Alonso returned to Formula 1 last year… and this summer signed a minimum two-year contract with Aston Martin. Suffice to say that, despite his 41 years, the native of Oviedo could know in his career this famous season with 25 Grands Prix, for example in 2024.
In 2018 – and on several occasions thereafter – Lewis Hamilton was also very reluctant in the face of the announced pace. And the Briton did not imagine, either, that he would one day have to line up at the start of such a gargantuan championship. The tone was less threatening, but the substance quite close to that expressed by Fernando Alonso.
“The seasons are getting longer and longer, and the off-season is getting shorter and shorter”he noted then. « As a competitor, I can only speak for myself, but it’s so short between two seasons. You start preparing for the next one as soon as the current one is over. It’s very, very difficult. Then you have to find a way to disconnect and recover at the same time, so it’s very likely that I won’t be there when there are 25 [GP]that’s for sure. »
It is not a question here of giving wrong to Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, even less to make them any lawsuit, the more so as if one wants to be with the figures, the bar of the 25 Grands Prix does not is not yet reached. Perhaps they have also, and it is their right, simply changed their minds. On the other hand, the opinion that they had expressed deserved to be recalled, in a universe where declarations follow one another at such a speed that they often erase the preceding ones very quickly.
Five years ago, Sebastian Vettel expressed exactly the same doubts as his counterparts. « I think 25 is too much, 20 is enough »he assured. « We don’t need more Grands Prix. I think between 16 and 20 is the right number when you think about the effort put in from a team perspective. » The German will not have to face contradiction, he who will hang up the helmet at the end of the season!