Formula One – On a Jet Plane

Etihad Airways Logo on Ferrari Rear Wing (picture - Wiki Commons)

Mark Webber’s column for the BBC website raises the issue of Formula 1 travel and, specifically, the choice that drivers make in the time gap between the flyaway races; whether to remain acclimatised in the East or travel back to home base in Europe.

Not many people will feel sympathy for pampered F1 pilots, but it is recognised that poor travel choices can have an impact on their performances.  Michael Andretti’s decision to commute from his home in America was cited as a reason for the Hamburger Hill style-massacre that was his 1993 part-season with McLaren and we all know far too much about Lewis Hamilton’s conjugal trips to LA.  However, it is important to remember that the consequences of a 20 race calendar also impact on the mechanics, media folk and other less privileged members of the F1 paddock.

There is an impression that the growth in the number of races and those requiring a trip through the long haul departure lounge has been an inexorable process over decades.  In fact, these are relatively recent phenomena.  Looking back over the past ten, twenty and even thirty years there was a remarkable degree of consistency.  Thirty years ago in 1982, Keke Rosberg’s championship year consisted of 16 races of which just 6 were outside of Europe.  The position was identical for Nigel Mansell in 1992 and as recently as 2002 there were just 17 races, again with only 6 flyaways.  In contrast, this year we have 20 races of which 12 are unquestionably away fixtures.

So next time I have to rise at 6:30 a.m. to watch the pre-race grid walk, I will give a thought to the poor souls of the F1 paddock, so far from home and missing out on Simon Cowell’s latest talent travesty, BBC One’s The Voice, ITV’s Celebrities on the Slide, Jeremy Clarkson, Jeremy Kyle, fuel panics, hosepipe bans, the Boris and Ken show, austerity and tax credit cuts.  Then again….



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