Drivers unfazed by longer F1 calendar in 2016

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The move to increase the number of races on the Formula 1 calendar from 19 to 21 for 2016 has been backed by some of the sport’s drivers.

Earlier this month, the World Motor Sport Council revealed the calendar for next season, approving the return of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim and the addition of the European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The 21 planned races for 2016 would become a new record, breaking the current total of 20 from 2012. However, it would not be the longest F1 season in history thanks to the proposed condensed April-to-November calendar.

The prospect of a longer calendar is set to place more pressure on those within F1, but when asked about the issues adapting to more races, the drivers seemed open to it.

“We already have 19 now, so two more doesn’t really change a lot, I think,” Force India’s Sergio Perez said.

“I think it’s fine, it’s a job, you know,” Perez’s teammate, Nico Hukenberg, added. “We’ll do as many as they tell us.”

For Roberto Merhi, a 21 race season would be something of a reduction, given that he is currently combining his F1 commitments with the Formula Renault 3.5 series, an 18-race season.

“Yeah, obviously I’m doing 19 F1 races plus nine World Series races and so to do only 21 races next year will be less races than this year,” Merhi said.

However, the addition of more races would have a toll on the drivers’ home lives and time away from the track.

“Racing is more time away, for sure,” Sauber’s Felipe Nasr said. “All of us, all of us drivers but every one here, I’m sure they have other parts – apart from Formula 1 – everyone has a life behind that.

“But in a way I’m young, so I’m fully open to as many races as they can do and let’s go for it.”

For the drivers married with kids, such as Romain Grosjean, it is a little less appealing though.

“I think the limit would be the divorce!” he wryly responded when asked what the most number of races could be.

The 2016 F1 season is set to kick off on April 3 in Melbourne, Australia.