At the end of a long season, Formula 1 had to make the mammoth transfer from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi for the season finale. The drivers are not happy about it.
Max Verstappen would have been happy to forego the addition to his already fat mileage account. Over 13,000 kilometers as the crow flies, a time difference of twelve hours – after the tiring night shifts in Las Vegas, Formula 1 forces the drivers, mechanics and supervisors to make one last, grueling, mammoth transfer to the United Arab Emirates.
The season finale in Abu Dhabi (Sunday, 2:00 p.m. CET/Sky) is coming up – and it will cost everyone involved the last reserves of strength.
“I’ll be completely lost,” even the travel-experienced world champion Verstappen groaned before leaving for the next night race on the other side of the world, “it’s such a big time difference that, especially at the end of the season, when everyone is a bit tired “It’s a bit much.”
The Red Bull star doesn’t have a choice. Jet lag is inevitable, the stress test for your biorhythm is inevitable. The packed calendar of the global Formula 1 circus wants it that way. “I’ll try to sleep on the flight,” said Verstappen. He wanted to do a bit of exercise after landing and take things slowly before the last sessions on the race track were due for him this year.
Formula 1 is used to long transfers, even at the end of the season. Since 2014, the grand finale has taken place in Abu Dhabi. For years, there were two weeks between what was once the penultimate race in Brazil and the trip to the desert. More and more races have led to a tighter schedule – and the return to Las Vegas added to the strain.
Formula 1 in Las Vegas “a bit at the limit”
Unusually late start times, plus the unplanned night shift due to the farce in the first training session – some pilots became thoughtful. “I don’t know what the reason is why we drove so late,” said Ferrari star Charles Leclerc, “but I had the feeling that it was a bit at the limit.”
Verstappen also struggled with the timing. He wanted changes. “Perhaps the journey to Abu Dhabi could be made a little better,” said the Dutchman and suggested an “American tour” for the future: “Of course I know that that might not be ideal for ticket sales. Maybe we can do one Find solution.”
Formula 1 is working on one. In 2024, the record calendar will be busier than ever with 24 races. Greater regionalization should at least reduce the logistical effort and make the season more sustainable. Japan in April, Azerbaijan in September – and the premier class also came up with something for the final in Abu Dhabi.
The penultimate race of the coming season will take place in Doha/Qatar and therefore in close proximity to Abu Dhabi, but again a week after the race in Las Vegas. So Formula 1 saves its drivers 300 kilometers as the crow flies. It is doubtful whether Verstappen and Co. will see this as a relief.