Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the 23-race 2021 Formula calendar is “on the limit of human tolerance” as the schedule continues to expand.
2020 was set to see a record 22-race calendar, but that had to be revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tripleheader races returned in order to fit as much of a championship in as possible but despite that being initially sold as an emergency measure this season, the 2021 calendar now features back-to-back tripleheaders as F1 attempts 23 races for the first time.
“There has been lots made of the 23 races on next year’s calendar as we are seeing the demand for F1 races increase,” Horner said. “But when you look at the races this season, where we have 17 races between July and the end of the season, it has been pretty intense. So looking at 23 races over a season compared to what we have done this year in such a short space of time, it looks a lot more straightforward.
“But it is a lot, and it will be demanding. Yes, there is a bit less testing so that compensates fractionally, but it will be a challenge for all team members. Less so for the drivers as they fly in and out slightly later than the team, but a lot for everyone else.
“There are some great races planned, but of course it is on the limit of human tolerance. We are approaching our 300th race but given the rate of races being added to the calendar, we could be having our 500th grands prix in just a few seasons!”
Horner’s reference of Red Bull’s 300th race relates to this weekend’s event in Turkey, where the team will make its 300th start since its 2005 debut. Taking over the role of team principal when Red Bull entered the sport, Horner recalls a bizarre first top-level meeting with his peers that left him bemused about the challenge that was ahead of him.
“I am not normally one for landmarks but this one certainly stands out. It has been an incredible journey for the whole team and it has all gone so quickly. I vividly remember back to January 2005 when F1 held the Concorde Meeting. All the team principals were there and it was the first time I had attended.
“I was only 31 and you had great characters like Bernie (Ecclestone) chairing the meeting with Max Mosley. McLaren’s Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh were there with their matching pens, folders and sharp suits. You had Flavio Briatore causing general chaos. Eddie Jordan was there, as was Jean Todt on behalf of Ferrari, Peter Sauber and Sir Frank Williams; certainly some big characters.
“There was no real structure to the meeting and Bernie was throwing things into the ring that he had probably pre-agreed with Max before the meeting even took place. There would be arguments between Ron and Flavio, and Jean Todt would agree to nothing. The meeting went on for hours and we achieved, well, not very much.
“But at the end of it, everyone agreed what a fantastic meeting it had been! So I came out of that meeting a little confused — I was still trying to work it all out at that point.”