Australian Grand Prix boss tells drivers stop whingeing about F1 race, calendar

Not everyone was thrilled to be back racing in Melbourne on the weekend but an Aussie Grand Prix chief handed them a reality check.

The head of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) has told F1 drivers to “stop whingeing” about coming Down Under in the middle of the season.

Melbourne welcomed back the Australian Grand Prix on the weekend for the first time since 2019 but not everyone was happy to be back at Albert Park in April.

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Some stars, like Sergio Perez and George Russell, called for Australia’s position on the F1 calendar to be reassessed after a 29,000km round trip for the race weekend.

But after a hugely successful weekend, which saw 420,000 fans flock to the track, AGPC boss Andrew Westacott said drivers “better get used” totravelling far and wide as F1 looks to expand its appeal.

“We’ve proven that we can have success both opening the season and coming in after a couple of races,” Westacott told Reuters this week.

“The time for Formula One in Australia is early in the season.

“The drivers have got to stop whingeing in some respects.”

Although it had been two weeks since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the F1 roadshow needed to move nearly 13,000km between Jeddah and Melbourne, and over 16,000km to the next race at Imola in Italy.

Perez said the distance in the middle of the calendar was just too brutal.

“As the season is getting longer and longer, we need to get a better balance,” he said

“It works well at the moment because we are doing the winter testing in Bahrain, it makes sense to stay there.

“But it really has to be back-to-back with one of those races because just coming to Australia for a single race is quite painful for everyone.

“We all want to come here, but there is ways we can improve and in fairness to F1 Australia hasn’t been on the calendar for the last (two) years.

“I’m sure that going forward they can have a look at it.”

Ferrari star Carlos Sainz also said the distance was tough to cover in the middle of the season.

“(It’s a) bit of a shame it is not the number one race,” Sainz said.

“It gives you that extra vibe to come all the way here, it’s such a long trip.”

Mercedes driver Russell said the time zone difference and cumulative distance the sport covers in a year made having the Aussie Grand Prix mid-season “too tough” for Europe-based teams.

“I think Melbourne here as the season-opener was really cool because everybody came up here early and there was a lot of excitement and anticipation,” Russell said.

“But I think having Melbourne in between races, especially as a stand-alone, is too tough for the teams and everybody.

“People came out on Saturdays and Sundays to get acclimatised to the conditions, to the time zone change and it is just too much.

“I think it needs to be thought about more. There is no reason we couldn’t do a back-to-back with one of the Middle Eastern races. But it feels like another double-header for all the teams with the amount of time they spend in this part of the world.”

Originally published as F1 stars told to ‘stop whingeing’ about coming to Australia