The Formula One drivers have all been enjoying their easter breaks differently and George Russell took the opportunity to take in some tennis. The young Mercedes’ star showed up to watch the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament in France this week to watch Novak Djokovic compete.
Russell a long time tennis fan watched as the world’s number one ranked player eased past Ivan Gakhov in straight sets on his way to the third round.
Russell chats with Djokovic
Following Djokovic’s post match round of interviews Russell met up with the Serbian tennis star and posed for photos whilst chatting.
Having not followed the F1 season opening races, Djokovic was clearly unsure as to where the championship race was up to.
“What’s the stage now? Where are you guys going for the next one?” asked Djokovic.
“We’ve got Azerbaijan next. We’ve just come back from Melbourne,” Russell replied.
Australian time difference “a killer”
The tennis ace then enquired as to how Russell’s recovery was going from the extreme time zone shifts between Australia and Europe.
“Melbourne’s a killer,” admitted Russell.
“I mean, it’s probably taken a week to come back.”
Russell then indicates a somewhat demeaning view of the opening races of the F1 season, dismissing them as a mere pre-cursor to the main event.
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Russell demeans opening races
“We were meant to go to China next week so we’ve actually got a couple of weeks off. Then Azerbaijan and then the season really kicks off. Then Miami.”
Djokovic appeared to criticise those in charge if the F1 calendar for failing to account for the drivers’ well being. Russell makes it clear their views have already been made clear to the sport’s top men.
“No, no, no, we’ve had a few conversations about this because we are left, right and centre,” Russell reveals.
F1’s supreme Stefano Domenicali revealed at the Grand Prix in Melbourne that changes were underway for next season’s Formula One schedule.
Schedule for 2024 affected by Ramadan
However, the switch around of the schedule is limited to the opening events of 2024 and has been driven by the fact the Islamic festival of Ramadan begins on March 10th and lasts for 30 days.
This means neither the Bahrain nor Saudi F1 races can be held during this period.
Regionalising the races has been discussed, though race promoters cling feverishly to their long standing slots on the calendar.
One proposal for the beginning of next year is bringing the Singapore Grand Prix forward to be included in the early flyaway races. However, the promoter of the Island state race was forthright in his opinion of such a suggestion.
Details of how Ramadan will change 2024 F1 calendar
Race promoter refuses to move their GP
“We’ve had the race in late September since 2008, this has created a routine for those who come and watch the race and if we change it we may lose some of our more regular ticket buyers, so I’ve told Stefano I don’t want that change to happen.”
Christian Horner has previously given his views on the regionalisation of the F1 calendar.
“I think if you look at the calendar, it makes sense to group some of the races together,” said the Red Bull boss in 2022.
“Whether it’s some of the American races, some of the Asian races, Europe, obviously. Some of the calendar this year when you look at the geographics of it, Azerbaijan to Montreal, going to Australia for a weekend, it’s about as expensive as you could make it.”
With the FIA’s net zero timescale for 2030 approaching fast, F1 will need to resolve these globe trotting vanity excursions.
For the next two events the teams will travel east to Baku, then West to Miami before completing a 14,000 mile journey back to Europe for just two race weekends.
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Dreaming of paradise during this break… 💭#F1 @yukitsunoda07 pic.twitter.com/7sfN9qpTnm
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 12, 2023
A more regionalized race calendar would be good, but wholly achieving this is challenging, given different climatic conditions, such as hot-weather, rainy, & cold phases for certain locations, etc.
As regionalized as practicable should be the minimum target over time, though.
The ongoing season has four separate North American trips, given LV GP occurs in November.
Lastly, Australian GP indeed should be paired with another event to minimize overall travel, but that wouldn’t necessarily have to be a Middle Eastern one, as the likes of China & Japan are also options.
I forgot to remove the last two paragraphs as the direct references aren’t in this article, but oh well, relevant matter-related anyway.