As the Formula One circus set up camp in Las Vegas, drivers voiced concerns about the demanding race calendar and its effect on their biorhythms.
The unusual scheduling of the second practice session at 2.30am on Friday added a new level of complexity to their already demanding routines.
Team bosses play down jet lag problems
Despite the drivers’ complaints, team bosses such as Ferrari’s Frederic Vasseur and Williams’ James Vowles see no significant problem with the schedule.
Vasseur noted that Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had stayed in America to avoid jet lag, while Vowles expressed confidence in the drivers’ ability to adapt and return to peak performance quickly.
The real test for the drivers: The Abu Dhabi race
While Las Vegas may be manageable, the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Prix presents a more substantial challenge. The twelve-hour time difference between the venues presents a daunting task for the drivers, with World Champion Max Verstappen openly questioning the logic behind such a tight schedule.
Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff has little sympathy for the drivers’ complaints about jet lag, pointing out that team mechanics and other staff face tougher conditions without the support systems available to the drivers.
He emphasises the wider contributions required from everyone involved in the sport.
The extravagance of Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, the drivers not only have to deal with an unconventional schedule, but also a flurry of ceremonies, sponsor events and fan interactions. This is part of Liberty Media’s ambitious effort to turn the Las Vegas Grand Prix into a marquee event, even as it demands more from the drivers.
McLaren’s Zak Brown acknowledges the demands on the drivers, but sees it as a testament to the success and popularity of Formula One. As F1 continues to gain momentum, team principals like Vasseur and Vowles believe it’s imperative to strike a balance between partner obligations and on-track performance.
Embracing the “first world problem”
Despite the fatigue evident in media interactions, there’s a consensus among team principals that the current state of affairs is a “first world problem”. They argue that the current vitality of the sport and the excitement surrounding events such as the Las Vegas Grand Prix are reasons to embrace the challenges and enjoy the success.
As Formula One’s global footprint expands, so too does the complexity of the racing calendar. While jet lag and hectic schedules may seem trivial to some, they are part and parcel of the grand spectacle that is Formula One. The drivers’ ability to cope with these challenges, both on and off the track, is as much a part of their professional skillset as their racing prowess.
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Practice for the Las Vegas GP was already an unusual event, with sessions running into the early hours of the morning after a series of delays, including the…READ MORE ON THIS STORY