Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Vettel says 20 races per year is near teams’ limit

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2011Sebastian Vettel doubts the F1 calendar could expand much further beyond the current 20 races per season.

The world champion told Servus TV this year’s 20-race schedule is near the limit of what teams can cope with:

“I think 20 is a good number but it’s a big number,” said Vettel. “Not just for us, the drivers, I think for the whole team, for the whole paddock.

“To move around sometimes have races back-to-back one weekend straight after the other is not easy, I think that you need to be aware of that.

“We have the races more and more spread out around the globe so these things don’t make it easy. So I think we just get away with 20 races.”

This year’s calendar is the longest ever with 20 races, and it is set to expand next year with the planned addition of a second race in the USA.

Vettel won the latest addition to the calendar, the Indian Grand Prix, last year. The United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas joined the calendar this year.

Asked which of the current races he enjoys most Vettel said: “I really love to go to Japan. First of all the track is amazing.

“The atmosphere there is completely different. The people there are very friendly and very crazy, in a positive way, about motorsport, about racing, about Formula One.

“That’s something very nice to see and makes you feel very special when you get there and you see that there’s so big support for Formula One and for the drivers.”

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60 comments on “Vettel says 20 races per year is near teams’ limit”

  1. Awesome.
    I never saw Vettel as a Japan fan, but that’s quite cool.

    Agree that 20 is at the limit. I don’t physically think the mechanics and that can take much more than the workload they already have.
    It’s intense.

    1. Maybe the teams could hire more mechanics/engineers etc. The newest additions to the calendar are having to pay more for their places, so the teams will benefit with a bit more cash. I think it could work depending on how much cash each team gets from each new track

    2. I think physically they should not complaint, once they’re paid enough money to handle that, just like Messi or an NBA player.

      I admit it’s a big operational and financial challenge for the teams.

      1. Are you seriously comparing an F1 mechanic’s pay to Messi’s?

        1. Vettel’s.

    3. In fact, Vettel has always named Suzuka as his favourite track. And I couldn’t agree more, that track has an amazing variety of high speed corners and long straights. For me it’s the best F1 track. I’m not sure if it’s the best track for overtaking but i think most the drivers enjoy Suzuka so much!

  2. I pretty much agree with this, 19-20 races should be the limit.

    1. I fully agree, as it is its stretching the attention span. More and most fans would start picking which races to watch and which to just look up on afterwards.

      1. Twenty is Plenty!

        As someone who is bordering on obsessed with F1 and who is also married, I fear my wife would divorce me if I were to devote any more of my time to this sport. LOL! I’ve become so aware of it this year that I’ve started to get annoyed with F1 because its making my life difficult.

        Also, the lack of downtime between seasons along with testing restrictions means teams arrive at the first race of the season with a car they don’t understand. Good? Bad? depends on your point of view.

        The more F1 expands the more expensive it gets and therefore the more those costs are passed on to us the viewers/racegoers. Do we really want to pay any more for this spectacle?

        The proliferation of characterless Tilke designed F1 Cathedrals makes F1 look all nice and posh on the telly but the tracks are crap for racing and lack charachter. Any further expansion of the F1 calendar will simply be an expansion of the Tilke snorefest portfolio.

        The optimum level is just below saturation point which is where we currently are. Lets not forget the real fans need time between races to digest all the car developments etc and we also have lives/jobs/families etc.

        I am not someone who could watch the odd race and read up on the rest so further expansion would probably mean me going cold turkey and forgetting F1 altogether.

  3. I like 20 races per season. Perhaps because it’s a long season and an even number.

  4. Hmm. I know all the teams and drivers think 20 is the limit, but heck, as a fan I would love to see more. It kills me waiting 2 or 3 weeks, and don’t even get me started on the off-season!!

    But I guess if they can’t cope with more/don’t want to do more, we viewers will just have to accept the 20 races per season.

    1. I want 30 races a year. I love to watch every weekend! :)

  5. Twenty races with a weekend in between them each would take up 39 weeks. The 2012 calendar covers 37 weeks from 16 March to 23 November. The three back-to-back race weekends allow for the mid summer break.
    Are they *really* going to increase the calendar to 21 race weekends? With the same number of back-to-backs, the 2013 season would last 39 weeks. With a weekend break between each race and no summer break, it would last 41 weeks. Maybe they will leave out the mid-season testing to try and take some of the pressure off.

  6. 16 was considered the limit just ten years ago, now it’s 20, and I’ll be surprised if Bernie doesn’t manage to lift this number up to 25 (with two new races in the US and Russia joining in the next few years).

    As someone who started following F1 in the 90s, 16 or so races per season would be the optimum. For the past few seasons, at times following F1 has been quite the job; instead of “YES! It’s F1 weekend” it’s “Oh no, not again!”

    1. Oh no, not again!

      That’s quite sad.

    2. F1fanNL (@)
      17th May 2012, 11:01

      It’s gonna take a lot of races per season for me to say “Oh no, not again!”

      1. I agree ,I get withdrawal symptoms when there’s no F1 on TV

  7. Anyone know how NASCAR handles their 36 race season?
    I know I know, all events take place on one continent, but they still average in traveling around 2000km between weekends.

    1. In NASCAR the teams have 2 parallel racing teams to enable for all the travel and a couple of days of rest period in between @spankyspeed

      1. Thanks for the info. So maybe that’s then the future of F1 then?

        I just now had a look at how big the NASCAR teams are, I was surprised that the larger teams employ up to 400 people, similar to F1 teams.

        1. IMO the costs of running an F1 team make this 100% impossible

    2. 36? Damn, it’s like an European football league with 38 rounds! That’s impressive. Actually it makes me feel less impressed with 20 races Formula 1 season :)

  8. They need to get rid of more of the European races to make way for more global events.

    1. I don’t think most teams will appreciate this.
      They seem more “at home” in Europe, as this is the location of most of their factories etc… Making it easier for them to be comfortable.

  9. Seeing the week gaps, I think you could fit more than 20 races in one season.

    As for Vettel, he would say that, as he knows that the more races, the more effort he would have to put in to win the championship ;) After Turkey 2009, in the press conference, he was effectively saying “I would rather race on my own so I know I can win.”

    1. To be fair to Vettel, he does remember to mention his mechanics and not just himself. I agree with him, 20 is enough. Any more and they start to lose their appeal, sometimes a 3 week gap gets you more excited for the next one. You can have too much of a good thing.

      1. How many awfully paid miners would like to swap places with F1 mechanics for their work load and paycheck? Maybe I’m being harsh, but I don’t think they have the most physically demanding job out there, just saying.

    2. As for Vettel, he would say that, as he knows that the more races, the more effort he would have to put in to win the championship

      Considering that 2010 and 2011 were the only seasons prior this one where the champion took part in 19 races, I believe Vettel isn’t at all fazed by having to do more races to win the title.

      SV mentioned the team, and the strain it would put on them to have even more races than now. F1 cannot have a race every week like NASCAR, since the races are almost all in different countries and continents, so they can’t just have a (relatively) short roadtrip between states. You’ll never for instance, get a double header between Monaco and Canada, or Japan and the United States.

      1. they can’t just have a (relatively) short roadtrip between states.

        Sure they racing in a single country but one as big as continental Europe (excluding Russia). European countries are (relatively) small and intercontinental trips are very short indeed. For example, you take more time to travel from Boston to SF than you would take from London to Madrid, actually Texas state alone is bigger than most European countries.

        1. What do you mean by “intercontinental trips are very short indeed”? How is Monza, Italy to Singapore in September “very short indeed”?
          Did you mean ‘international’ instead of ‘intercontinental’?

          1. I mean INTERCONTINENTAL. Why? Because @david-a assumed that Nascar can have 36 races because it’s held in a single country unlike F1. Then, I just tried to point out that the US is very big and some interstate trips are just as long as intercontinental trips in Europe.

            I mentioned African countries to show how big former colonies are compared to former colonial powers, if you feel more confortable with an F1 hosting nation you can take Brazil which is roughly twice the size of the EU.

            On flight time,’s estimation would help. I did not say in any moment that it was easy to move around hundreds of people and equipment of an F1 team, I just think, despite it’s global presence, 36 races inside the US with a Nascar team is at least, as much as difficult. The space between races in Formula 1 is tough but far from unbearable, unless your finances are too tight, in this case one can question team’s ability to be in the circus after all.

            Moving from UK to Sydney must be tough, I took almost 30 hours from Lisbon to Sydney with two stops and I know how hard it is.

          2. “are just as long as intercontinental trips in Europe”
            You can’t have an INTERCONTINENTAL trip in Europe. INTERCONTINENTAL means between continents. Europe is one continent. Do you mean ‘intracontinental’?
            What has the size comparison of colonial powers and former colonies go to do with racing?

        2. F1fanNL (@)
          17th May 2012, 11:09

          But from China to Bahrein and from Bahrein to Spain takes a lot more time.

          Also, F1 teams have to deal with customs and other logistical hurdles when traveling across the globe.

          1. @f1fannl If you call two more hours “a lot of time” then so they do. But my point is his view on inter-state trips in America. I understand some people in Europe don’t realize how big “new nations” are once European countries are way more compact. For example Angola is bigger than France, Spain and Netherlands combined and neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo can accommodate France, Spain, Germany, Italy, UK, Switzerland, Portugal and Benelux all inside it.

            By no means I intended to say it’s easy to move around for an F1 team and I don’t it is either for a Nascar team either. My point was solely “geographic”. As I said above, it’s a hell of a logistical challenge.

          2. @JCost. Google tells me that Bahrain to Spain is more than 4,000 miles, and China to Bahrain is over 6,000 miles. How is that “two more hours”?
            Your comparison of Angola or DRC to Europe is irrelevant as neither host Grand Prix.

        3. Yesterday I calculated that NASCAR is doing on average 2000km between weekends. Sure that’s a bit less than what F1 does.
          Anyhow I thought we concluded that NASCAR can handle their 36 race season because the teams have two parallel working race teams.

  10. 20 races is just about right. I think that more than the engineers and mechanics, it must be so demanding on a racer to have to endure so much stress on your body. 20 races mean 60 days of racing for sure. On top you have about 15 days of testing. It must be grueling to say the least to even stay fit. Add to that racing in places like Malaysia where the environment is so tough for them. And if that was not enough you have sponsorship commitments, demonstrations etc etc…

    Anything between 18-22 races sounds enough for me. Any less and the season would feel too spread out and any more would be a brutal overdose of F1 for me. Although not many people would complain that the calender was too long if they were as interesting as the ones we’ve had so far this year.

  11. I’m loving the sense of occasion in the weeks before the Indy 500, and there’ll be similar anticipation for Le Mans when testing gets underway. But the other event in the racing “Grand Slam”, the Monaco Grand Prix, doesn’t have the same build-up. It’s crammed into a packed calendar and presented as just another F1 event that begins with the same old team press releases full of words like “aggressive”, “programme” and “challenge”… seems a shame to me.

    Is there a safety issue here too? Too early to speculate what caused the Williams fire – but there’s this mad rush after the race, when everything’s taken down and moved on to the next venue, or back to base in time for a quick turnaround. Maybe fewer races, or alternating crews, or Monday tests after some races, would let all these heroic and hard-working people spend a few more days at home…

  12. If Bernie wants to increase the calender to more than 20 then he has got to look at ways to make it easier for the teams. I understand the teams not wanting to, it seems unfair for a person to spend half a year away from his family. This is where Bernie needs to have a rethink and allow more team members, almost a second set of mechanics for the teams, this way the engineers don’t spend ridiculas amounts of time away from home. Either that and trim the fat off the calender so we only see tracks that we want to see. I don’t mean like Spa and Monza everyweek, but if there’s no money coming from Hungary lets say, then remove it. If the viewing figures are low then remove it. This sort of thing is unfair to the people who love F1 in that conutry for sure, but that way the calender stays at a normal size. For me, I wouldn’t mind seeing a GP2 style format going on with 3 races every weekend but hey ho, not everyones cup of tea.

  13. By the way, Red Bull posted the video of that interview with Vettel on twitvid. A really nice line is “the first one you would start to cheat on is yourself” – he really did learn a lot from being close enough to Schumi to see how the man works.

  14. If we get more than 20 races I`ll get divorced!

  15. 20 is fine. A part of me thinks that more Formula 1 would be great – especially as it continues to be as unpredictable as it has been so far this season – but on the other hand, I remember how disengaged with the sport I became towards the end of last season, when it had already been clear for months that Vettel was going to walk the championship. I’m not sure I’ve entirely shaken off that feeling, as exciting as 2012 has been, like I said. There are many other contributing factors, like DRS, which I am strongly against, but I think having any more races in the season would tempt me to skip the less interesting ones.

  16. I’m (barely) old enough to remember when there were only a dozen Grands Prix, and 12 “good” races would still be enough for me. Or, Bernie could expand the calendar at will and have regional Formula One championships, with only certain events counting toward the “World Championship”.

  17. One thing I liked from that interview was when he was asked about what he would do if he had a day to himself and could do anything at all he wanted that wasn’t “jumping in a car and screeching around a track.” He said what he’d really want to do on any day, given the choice, is drive his F1 car. They don’t get very much time in the cars, now that testing is so limited, so that would always be his first choice. “I would always go for the car, to be honest, I think…it’s a very special feeling. It’s difficult to explain and to describe how it feels – but that’s, I think, what makes it so special.”

    It made me wonder, how many people in the world, when asked, “If you could do anything you wanted for one day, what would it be?” would be able to answer, “My job!”

    1. Buy a semi-competitive kart(Not to waste too much money on soft tyres). Should be around 7-10k. To drive on an open track on weekends or after work. You will be amazed how much fun it is.

      1. I have no doubt! I’d be pathetic at it, but I’d love to try it sometime.

  18. 20 isn’t even close to being near the limit. NASCAR does 36 and some exhibition events, after all. Of course, travel times for the drivers are a bit more intense in F1, which would reduce the number somewhat. Even then, it’s still way higher than 20.

    The only thing stopping the teams from cutting some of their more frivolous costs in order to afford more cars and personnel is a lack of willpower.

    I don’t expect to see too many more races than we currently have, but it’s laughable to think that there’s some magic number of races that cannot be expanded upon.

    1. I absolutely agree that the teams could gear up for more races if they wanted (certainly the big teams).
      They already wanted to go testing again this year.
      I think the downsides are more that the small teams would probably not receive much more money so would find it difficult to finance more races, and would fans really watch many more…

    2. @kanil I’m a huge F1 fan but you won’t catch me giving up half of my life to follow the F1 circus around the world on TV. I have a life to lead!

      1. 20 hours a year would really be half your life just to watch 10 more races?


        F1 is already the least demanding of all the sports I personally watch, but I suppose if you can’t actually watch 30 races, then having 10 more would at least give you 10 races you might like better than Hungary or Abu Dhabi…

  19. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    17th May 2012, 8:50

    Were there’s a will (or a profit opportunity) there’s a way.

    More than 20 races a year means packing them closer together. Back to back weekends and/or mid week night time races. One way to achieve this is to shorten the programme by one day. I say get rid of Fridays. They add nothing to the show. Certainly not to the armchair viewer anyway.

    Just a thought

    1. Get rid of Friday?! So when do you propose the teams fit in the their practice sessions so they can dial into the circuit? How about future driver development?

      Madness! @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk

      1. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        18th May 2012, 9:22

        As I said it’s just a thought. It’s amazing how change is resisted. The total on track time from the current three day programme could easily be fit into two days. I don’t have a well formed plan how this could be acheived because I don’t know the logistics but someone must know and we might get an informed response rather than it just “madness”.

        It might be a good subject for an article. Any takers? Keith?

        1. You are just looking at track time?
          What about the night the mechanics need between the practice sessions and the Qualifying? Do you suggest we have the Qualifying directly before the race? That will cut deeply into admission and advertisement income.

          1. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            18th May 2012, 14:52

            True enough Qualifying would be best left to the day before the race but don’t forget the premise is to have more race weekends which would mean a lot more money coming into the sport. As I’ve said I don’t have a suggested race/qualifying/practice timetable but I think I could come up with one. Remember Force India in Bahrain? They missed Friday with little effect on their qualy and race. I hear your point about the off track time for the mechanics and I already had thought about that hence my reference to logistics but potential financial gain for having more races should get some clever minds focussed on resolving those issues.
            At the end of the day I’m not arguing in favour of scrapping Fridays, I’m in favour of us exploring the option. If we are emotionally attached to the three day program then so be it, but I’m not.

  20. I’m happy with 20. There’s more than enough motorsport to accommodate F1 off-weekends!

    I love this sport as many of you do and the last thing I want is to think that people are being dragged away from their nearest and dearest more and more. It’s already a tough lifestyle for many of them, which yes, they do choose, but there has to be a limit.

    1. I’m happy with 20. There’s more than enough motorsport to accommodate F1 off-weekends!

      Exactly. This weekend it’s the Nürburgring 24h and DTM for me. Next weekend it’s already overkill with the Monaco GP, Indy 500, GT1, Int. GT Open, Porsche Supercup.

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