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Russell: F1 illnesses highlight 'unsustainable' toll of 2024 calendar

George Russell believes illnesses going around the Formula 1 paddock in Abu Dhabi highlight the ‘unsustainable’ toll that will be taken on team personnel working all 24 races in 2024.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, in cockpit

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, in cockpit

Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

As the 2023 campaign concluded with the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix running back-to-back with the season finale in the Middle East - forcing people to overcome a 12-hour time difference in three days - drivers, team personnel and championship staff were coming down with sickness at Yas Marina.

Although a 24-round schedule for next year has already been released, with China reinstated for the first time since 2019, there is pressure for Vegas to break away from the Qatar and Abu Dhabi curtain call to allow some respite at the end of what will be the longest season in championship history.

Russell says the fatigue and illnesses at the end of the current 22-race term proves how unsustainable it is for team personnel to commit to a full calendar next year and that limits should be imposed.

"The drivers, we have it best from every single person in this paddock," he said. "The way we travel, we're in a very fortunate position.

“But everybody up and down the paddock, I've got so many mechanics who are ill, people in the engineers’ office, just really struggling with the constant time zone shifts, the body not knowing where you are, eating at different times, staying in different hotels, different environments, different climates.

"The body's getting confused. There are talks for next year about personnel being regulated that they can't do every single race. I think that would be a good thing.

"I don't think it's sustainable for 4,000 people to do 24 races a season, especially when you see how geographically it still doesn't make a huge amount of sense."

While F1 teams do work to rotate personnel, the 2021 introduction of an FIA cost cap has naturally led teams to limit their workforce, in turn restricting the degree to which employees can swap in and out.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, celebrates on the podium

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, celebrates on the podium

Russell also recounted his “miserable” Abu Dhabi GP outing since he was battling a “horrendous cough” while strapped aboard the Mercedes W14 on his way to a podium finish.

He revealed: “I was probably coughing four times a lap then, so it was pretty miserable out there.

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"I’ve been really ill the last two weeks. Firstly in Vegas with a big fever - I couldn't sleep and just felt awful. And then I've had a horrendous cough that stayed with me all week and in the car.

"I was coughing every single lap but when you're strapped into the car, you can't breathe.

"You can't take a deep breath in to get the cough out. So, it was just constantly with me."

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