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Racers like gladiators; in this way MotoGP and F1 risk losing value

After complaints from some motorbike racers, their F1 counterparts have also criticized the organizers' decision to create increasingly longer and more complicated championships with the addition of the Sprint Race. Verstappen's outburst from Bahrain sums up the situation: "We are already way over the limit"

Auto - News: Racers like gladiators; in this way MotoGP and F1 risk losing value

Maybe things haven’t yet reached a breaking point, but we‘re not far off. A bit like in football, where it’s become impossible to count the number of matches between national championships and cups, so the world of motorsport has embarked on a path made up of never-ending and clogged-up calendars which, in the long run, instead of bringing the hoped-for benefits in terms of revenue due to tickets sold and TV rights, could prove to be detrimental.

The two most prominent categories of two and four wheels, MotoGP and F1, were the first to suffer this pursuit of saturation of any possible downtime, and as usually happens in these cases, the respective organizers acted autonomously, ignoring the opinion of those who take the risks on the track and ensure that the spectacle is attractive enough to allow the sport's coffers to fill up.

It must be said that unlike what normally happens with decisions taken from above that are unpopular, here there are many racers who, across the board, have criticised an unsustainable situation on two fronts: due to their nomadic life with no possibility of taking a breather, also extended to those who work away from the spotlight of the paddock but who are equally a fundamental component of the jigsaw, and due to the safety of the riders themselves who, tired of the continuous and intense commitments on the bike between races and tests, risk a sudden drop in attention and as a result getting hurt.

Fabio Quartararo recently made himself clear at the end of the 2023 championship, criticizing in no uncertain terms Dorna's decision to combine the 22 Sunday races with the same number of GPs on Saturday, albeit with fewer laps to complete .

“I don't think it's necessary to do the Sprint Races every weekendhe strongly arguedThey have led to several injuries and this is a big problem. I believe our discipline is already dangerous enough. As a racer I can assure you that sometimes you get much more tired in the short races than in the long ones. Furthermore, physically the bikes are becoming more and more demanding."

Then as today, the opinion of the 2021 world champion found support in the majority of the grid and it is interesting to note how the echo of this protest did not take long to reach the Formula 1 Circus, where on the eve of a 2024 season that will last until December, the reigning champion Max Verstappen spoke out and, despite only six extra mini-dates, he became the spokesperson for widespread disappointment.

During the pre-Bahrain GP conference, the Dutchman made a not-so-veiled accusation against those who are throwing them like gladiators into the arena without any care for their psychophysical well-being and the associated dangers. “I feel already that we’re way over the limit of races from my side, this is not sustainable."

The other drivers present in the room, starting with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, also gave further strength to the 26-year-old's outburst. “We are now close to the limit beyond which we cannot go if we want to have a personal life outside the circuits – he said – I really hope we do not have any more than 24 GPs. Formula 1 is risking becoming too much of a constant - having one race every weekend, and losing a bit the appetite of everyone switching on the TV to watch Formula 1. The highlight of having a Champions League match is that it connects for people for that day. I think Formula 1 needs to remain exclusive.”

For Lewis Hamilton, in addition to the overall stress caused by such a massive presence on the track, the environmental component also plays a key role. "We just have to be conscious of quality vs quantity, and we also have to think about the impact that we have on the world. Sustainability should be at the heart of the decisions that they're making."

Fernando Alonso instead recalled how on his debut there were only 16 rounds. “With the entry of Liberty Media it seemed that we shouldn't exceed 20, and now we have four more. If the world champion thinks there are too many, imagine for us who ultimately aren't fighting for any results. I hope that someone understands that all this could cause damage."

Although with data in hand the effort required from motorcycle racers is greater, it is clear that no one, in both these disciplines, is willing to support these sort of rhythms. However, the question mark remains. Will the bosses of the two racing categories try to meet the needs of the protagonists, by supporting them, or will they pretend there’s nothing to see here, embracing the logic of profit and leveraging the desire of the racers to emerge in spite of the conditions they have to endure, thus speeding up the process of a constant generational turnover?

 


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