As part of the makeover Liberty Media is giving Formula One in its first year of ownership, the company recently said it wants to majorly expand the schedule. Champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton don’t seem to like that much, agreeing that they’d consider leaving if the number of races got too high.
Alonso was first to bring up the potential of leaving after the new owners said they wanted to expand the schedule after 2018, according to Reuters. While no one specified how long the schedule could get, Alonso said 25 races is his limit—he said more than once that he’d retire at that point, Reuters reports.
Without specifying, Hamilton said he “tend[ed] to agree” with Alonso.
The current F1 schedule is at 20 races, with 21 slated for next year with a couple of additions and the removal of the Malaysia date. The bosses didn’t specify how many races could be added—if any, since this is just talk for now—but wanted to “focus on re-establishing the championship in core markets such as Europe, as well as increasing the reach in the United States, Asia and Latin America.”
“We are in a number that is quite demanding already with the life you have between the preparation, the sponsor events, the tests, the commitments, plus 20 or 21 races. I think it’s already enough.
“If there are 25 or 26 races maybe it’s good in one aspect, but bad in other aspects. At this point of my career I consider a good quality of life is more important than to do more seasons in F1.
“So if the calendar stays between 20 or 21, I will be happy to continue. If it’s increasing like NASCAR where they have 40 or 50 races, it is not for me. It is better for other drivers.”
Alonso said having “40 or 50 races” like NASCAR is not for him, even if the bosses want to use the expansion for the greater good of the sport. (NASCAR’s top division with the longest schedule of its national series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has had 36 points-paying races for years.)
Hamilton sat near Alonso in a pre-race press conference for the Canadian Grand Prix, and The Mirror reports that he said he “understand[s] what Fernando is saying and ... tend[s] to agree with him.”
If Liberty Media does get a little wild with the number of races on the schedule, the good thing for Alonso is that surely the Verizon IndyCar Series would take him if he decided not to retire. Hamilton, on the other hand, hasn’t made many friends over there.