Reacting on the soccer world cup, Formula One changed its summer schedule, resulting in its first ever triple header of races. The tight schedule presented a huge logistics challenge to the teams and was tough from the human side as well because most of the team personnel could not see their family members for almost three weeks.
The 2018 championship calendar consists of 21 races which equals the record from 2016. This high number of events and the soccer world cup meant the Commercial Rights’ Holder Liberty Media faced difficulties when finalizing this year’s calendar. To cram all the races into the summer and avoid clash with the final match of the soccer world cup, it was decided that the French, Austrian and British Grand Prix form the first ever triple-header of races in F1.
Despite accepting that there was no real better alternative, teams are pushing against the repeat of such an intense period of three consecutive weekends, arguing that organizing these events involved huge commitment from team members and also resulted in higher costs.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner revealed that the logistics side was the most challenging for his team. Instead of its stunning Energy Station, the Milton Keynes-based squad used a wooden building at the middle station of the triple header during the Austrian Grand Prix because the three back-to-back races made it impossible to transport and build up the huge motorhome in time.
“It’s certainly expensive, for moving cars, parts, people in such short succession. You’ll see here (Spielberg) we have a different hospitality facility. The usual Energy Station just simply wouldn’t have been possible for it to complete the triple headers, so, of course, there’s cost associated with that.”
“There’s a drain on resource because obviously an awful lot of components going backwards and forwards to the UK. We’re fortunate that the final race of the triple header for us is where the team is obviously based. Obviously harder for teams not based in the UK – but it’s certainly tough.”
Asked about the consequences of the triple-header, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost picked up another aspect. The holiday time leads to more intense traffic on motorways, meaning that transporting the equipment is even more stressful.
“That’s a real big challenge, because going from the South of France to Austria and then to England is a big challenge, especially from the logistics side, because as we know, we are now in holiday time. That means there is a lot of traffic out there and we have a lot of problems on the borders because of the checks which they make over there.“
It seems that Liberty Media will give up on the triple-header for 2019. Force India’s Otmar Szafnaur also confirmed that F1 will return to normal schedule next year.
"I was told there would not be a triple header" in 2019, Force India’s Otmar Szafnauer told RTL television at Silverstone.
Planning is already underway to make the calendar better for next year. The season opener in Australia, for instance, will take place a week earlier. Increasing the number of races has been long discussed, but there are signs that the calendars of the forthcoming seasons will still encompass the current number of races.
"My understanding is that we most likely won’t have a triple header again next year. The conversation around 22-23 races is, I think, a few years out. I think we’ll probably see 20, maybe 21 again next year," said McLaren’s Zak Brown.