Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

F1 announce new calendar for 2022 season

Posted on 28 October 2021 by Will Rogan

Formula 1 have announced their calendar for the 2022 season. It is the competition’s most expansive to date, with 23 races planned from 20th March in Bahrain to the 20th November in Abu Dhabi.

 

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The new calendar completely contradicts environmental goals laid out earlier this month in a press release regarding the use of a new ‘drop-in’ fuel.

F1 announced the fuel two weeks ago as part of their to become Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

With the world learning to live with the pandemic and nations more inclined to opening borders to foreigners, traditional races are returning to the roster.

Daniel Ricciardo will return to his home Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia for the first time since 2019. Yuki Tsunoda will race in Japan for the first time in an F1 car following Suzuka’s inclusion.

The expansion outlined in the new calendar is ambitious but will require a gluttonous use of natural resources in a time when environmental conscience is at the forefront of the public psyche.

The environmental cost of this enterprise is totally contradictory to the Net Zero Carbon objectives that the sport claims to be strongly committed to.

According to Google Earth, each team will travel approximately 72,000 miles/116,117 km over the course of the season, if the direct distance between each venue is added together.

The 10 teams will complete two and a half trips to Earth’s moon and back, just between races in 2022.

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This figure does not include all the logistics involved, trips home for the drivers and staff, trips back to headquarters to work on cars and equipment. It is an astounding festival of hypocrisy for one of the world’s most elitist sports.

Human rights abusing countries remain on the calendar despite significant pressure elsewhere in the sporting world regarding the prominence of cruel regimes in major sporting institutions. Newcastle United’s takeover by the Saudi Public Investment Fund is just one example.

 

How seriously can we take the environmental commitment?

If the sport continues down this route it could race itself into oblivion. The world is finally taking climate change seriously and soon there may be no place for internal combustion racing in a world that desperately needs to go green.

The COP26 global climate conference is due to start in Glasgow on Sunday 31st October.

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F1 will be celebrating internal combustion racing in Mexico City whilst the rest of the world focuses on the importance of confronting the climate crisis.

According to the COP26 website, some of the focuses will be a faster switch to electric vehicles and more investment in renewable energy.

With the announcement of their expansive new calendar, it is difficult to see how F1 in its current state can consolidate and attempt to conform with these targets.

 

What does the calendar mean for sporting integrity?

Quite apart from the rampant hypocrisy on display here, an extended calendar can be to the detriment of the sport.

Having a Grand Prix nearly every other week detracts from the mystique of Formula 1 that makes it so attractive.

Having announced the calendar, it is clear that more races reduces the glamour that characterises this sport.

Then there is the wellbeing of those working on the races.

There will be a stint of six races in seven weeks from the Belgian Grand Prix on 26th-28th October until the Japanese Grand Prix on the weekend of 7th-9th October.

Travelling between races and then working non-stop for the weekends in high-pressure situations is exhausting for mechanics, crews and drivers, but the intensity of the calendar suggests that their welfare is not high on F1’s priority list.

Without the teams and drivers, F1 have no product, so it should be in their interest to prioritise their wellbeing above all else.

However, the expanded calendar works in the context of the dopamine generation. Today, content is king and remaining relevant depends on consistently producing material that generates clicks.

Moreover, having fewer race weekends places more pressure on the drivers and makes for a more exciting season if every race counts for more in the wider scope of the season.

Now we are at the business end of the 2021 season, with five races left, every point counts.

Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Max Verstappen can afford any more slip-ups. Wouldn’t it be great to have this kind of pressure every single race in a reduced calendar?

F1 seems to be going the way of other sports, seeking near-constant streams of content for both an established fanbase and wider audience, to the detriment of both the planet and sporting integrity.

Time will tell if this expanded approach works for Formula 1. Unless it streamlines, the sport could be in its twilight hours.

 

 

You can read up on the fuel announcement at the following link:https://sportsgazette.co.uk/formula-1-give-green-light-to-drop-in-fuel/

The full calendar announcement is on F1’s website: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.formula-1-announces-23-race-calendar-for-2022.2HcIP34fK3Zznx7YZfWL6P.html