Scuderia Ferrari voted for the 2021 Formula 1 revised calendar, while McLaren was the only team to vote against. On Tuesday, Formula 1 officially confirmed an updated schedule for the coming campaign, with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix postponed until mid-November due to the difficulties of staging the race in March given the quarantine restrictions in the country.
The switch of the Melbourne event has resulted in F1 compressing the calendar following the August break and led to a run of three triple-headers, the standalone race in Australia before concluding the campaign with a double-header in the Middle East – a total of 12 races in 16 weeks.
The concern for the teams is the impact such a schedule will have on the health and wellbeing of all involved in the F1 circus, notably as the Russia, Singapore and Japan triple-header, followed by the newly-created trio of back-to-back races in the US, Mexico and Brazil entail roundtrips of nearly 16,000 miles before the exhausting journey to Australia.
The vast array of time zones across a few weeks is likely to have a significant effect on mind and body. A 5,000-mile Monday flight out of São Paulo, for instance, will not land back in London until Tuesday afternoon, and then just five days later, staff will then have to make the 10,500-mile journey to Melbourne.
Despite comments of concern from numerous team principals with regard to the triple-headers that took place last season and their impact on staff, nine of the 10 teams still voted in favour of the revised calendar.
When contacted to confirm its position in the vote, a McLaren spokesperson declined to comment, citing confidentiality.
McLaren was alone in its opposition, citing the intensity of the schedule and concern for the welfare of its people. Speaking at last year’s Russian Grand Prix, McLaren claimed there were too many negatives associated with the staging of triple-headers.