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Alpine: Longer gaps between races early in F1 seasons could be "a way forward"

Formula 1 should consider deliberately repeating the 2023 season’s early and unintended four-week break between grands prix in future calendars, according to Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

The widely predicted collapse of the optimistic plans to reinstate the Chinese Grand Prix for the first time since 2019 has created a protracted gap between the Australian and Azerbaijan rounds.

Usually, a similarly sizable window between races that has allowed much of the paddock to take time off is reserved for the traditional August summer break.

But as the calendar has grown to a record 23 races for this year, with plans afoot to add extra qualifying sessions for sprint race weekends, team bosses reckon championship organisers should look to repeat the down time to help sustain their work force.

Szafnauer reckons it could be “a way forward” for F1, saying: “This break, although not planned, in a calendar that has 23 races and a lot back-to-backs and triple headers, it's nice to have a three week-break now, a three-week break in August and a break at Christmas.

“Maybe if it's just so by luck that we gain the knowledge [from the unplanned trial run in 2023] that it's good to do it this way.

“Maybe it should be by design in the future. I know the season just started but it's not about just the start of the season because a lot of people have worked hard over the winter, prepared the car for testing, then the races and now to have a bit of a break just helps you in what's coming up.

“And then in August, you have another break. It might be a way forward.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team, is interviewed

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team, is interviewed

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner reckoned the disrupted schedule did not alter his outfit’s plans to introduce car upgrades, the timeline for which has long since been decided.

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However, he did echo Szafnauer’s comments that the interlude would allow team personnel to recharge before the largely European run to the summer break, which follows the Belgian GP on 30 July.

Steiner said: “Our development plan is set before and this break doesn’t make a real difference because the race team doesn’t work on the developments of the car but it’s more for the race team.

“There’s an opportunity to have a little bit of rest because the rest of the season will be tough.

“I just said to the guys, ‘Take it easy in these three weeks, don’t do anything I wouldn’t be doing’.

“The development is ongoing. It was planned already last year, what we are doing, but obviously it helps when you don’t have to bring it to China. If you had something planned for China, you have a little bit more time to make it better and get more prepared, also with data after the first races.

“But the main thing is the guys should relax a little bit to be ready for the tough part of the season.”

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