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F1 Returns to China Amid Concerns Over Mechanic Burnout

F1 Drivers Already Worry About Mechanics’ Burnout

23/04/2024

Formula 1’s return to China highlights both the excitement of racing and growing concerns about the intensive schedule’s impact on team mechanics.

After a five-year hiatus, F1 has returned to China last weekend. While the show was decent but not exceptional, it was primarily the Chinese fans who stood out by giving Guanyu Zhou an emotional welcome.

How did the drivers judge the Shanghai track after a five-year absence? Were the memories better than the reality?

“This circuit has always been nice,” reacted Max Verstappen for Red Bull, obviously pleased after another flawless weekend.

“I’ve always enjoyed driving here. It’s quite technical, with degradation also playing a role. It makes for a special Grand Prix, a fun Grand Prix. The fans are great, there are big stands, and the atmosphere is excellent. So, it’s always very enjoyable to be here.”

Lando Norris experienced the finish of a Chinese Grand Prix for the first time in his career, as he pointed out…

“This is the first time I’ve finished a race here, so that feels good.”

However, the McLaren F1 driver didn’t see many fans supporting him…

“There were a few.”

Which made Max Verstappen smile beside him in the press conference…

“A lot of girls were really supporting Lando, you know. Lando! Lando!”

F1 Returns to China Amid Concerns Over Mechanic Burnout

“I’m not surprised,” blushed Lando Norris. “I hadn’t noticed that to be honest with you, so you have a good eye, Max. I was watching the track! The fans are always good here. They are passionate. There are many, obviously. The support Zhou receives here is beautiful to see at the same time. So yes, I hope after this year, I’ll have some more and it’s only my second time here, so next year, maybe I’ll have even more fans.”

Max Verstappen is somewhat more satisfied with the new sprint format.

There was also a breath of fresh air this weekend as the new sprint format took effect, adhering to the chronological order of the sessions.

Max Verstappen, who has never been a big fan of these innovations (and that’s an understatement), finds it slightly better but is primarily concerned about the increasing number of events on the calendar.

“The Sprint format was better, I think. A bit more straightforward, I would say.”

“But yes, we shouldn’t overdo it either, because we’re already doing 24 races a year, including six of these Sprint events. I understand. I guess it sells more and the TV numbers are better, but it also means more stress for the mechanics and everyone else, to be at their best each time. So yes, you have to deal with it, but let’s not think that now we need 12 of these sprint races… because that’s going to take a toll on people too.”

F1 Returns to China Amid Concerns Over Mechanic Burnout

“I agree with Max,” adds Lando Norris.

“To be honest, I would always prefer the old race format [the traditional format]. That’s what I’ve always liked the most.”

“I like getting into the race and feeling the pressure right away. So having a free practice session before qualifying appeals to me. I think it gives less chance for teams to perfect their cars and prevents the hierarchy from being too dependent on the F1 cars. It works from that perspective.”

“But the main point is the impact on the mechanics and engineers. Honestly, I don’t think it’s too severe for us, the drivers. I don’t think we can complain. It’s the hundreds of mechanics and engineers we have here who have to travel so much. It’s not healthy for them. It’s not sustainable. So yes, the problem is not with us. So it’s not us you should be asking. People should rather look after the rest of the team. And that’s a limiting factor. Not whether we can get in the car every day, because I think we can, but I think the priority is to not overdo it for them, the mechanics.”

Like his peers, Sergio Pérez is also concerned about the risk of burnout in the paddock, with these new, more stressful formats.

“We really need to be careful, with 24 races… the amount of stress these events put on our mechanics is quite significant. And as a sport, we really need to take care of our staff, our mechanics. Because we are really at the limit. I think that’s a point to consider.”

F1 Returns to China Amid Concerns Over Mechanic Burnout

F1 Returns to China Amid Concerns Over Mechanic Burnout. F1 Returns to China Amid Concerns Over Mechanic Burnout

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