Formula 1 will have a record-length schedule in 2024, in terms of races and calendar duration, and its reveal prompted concerns of staff burnout.
That is not an issue exclusive to F1, and was a topic Van Amersfoort Racing boss Frits van Amersfoort spoke about during a media session at Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3’s Silverstone round.
“It’s a big concern, at least in my team. Basically my opinion is the F2 and F3 teams are too small [in staff size], then with all these back-to-back races, the workload is immense and there is little time for people to recover. But it’s in the regulations, so we have to deal with it,” he said.
“It’s quite concerning for our team as a company. And we have here F2 and F3, but we shouldn’t forget that the Formula 4 team is even more busy than F2 and F3 are together. So it’s quite a concern, and it’s not easy to cope with. Especially the travelling, and it’s hard.
“It’s hard for everybody, and it’s a challenge, and before we take on staff, the first half-hour I spend telling them why they shouldn’t do it. Because they have to realise how hard it is to live this life and that they have to be convinced that they want to do it.
“Because in the season it’s very hard to lose people. You can’t replace them so easy, and it takes time before they really are a complete member of the team.”
“[Burnout] is really something Rob [Niessink], my fellow team owner, is really concerned about. And we are nearly every day trying to put and keep everything together.”
How does VAR therefore help new, and old, recruits manage the intense routines of being a trackside team member?
“You need ears. You need to take time to listen to them. Sometimes you are a social worker, basically. And sometimes you have to be hard.
“Maybe it sounds a bit funny, but because of the popularity of F1, a lot of young people think that racing is all about opening laptops and programming race cars it’s all like a big movie and a big play. But instead it’s working bitterly hard.
“Sometimes you have to nurse them, sometimes you have to be nice to them, and sometimes you have to be a bit hard by saying: ‘listen, I’ve been through it; today might be shitty, but tomorrow will be nice’.
“Of course success, that’s basically the big thing in racing, when there is success in a team, it’s so much more easy for people to get motivated. So last weekend’s win in F2 was extremely important for the team members to show ‘yeah, this is why we do it, and this is why we sometimes have sleepless nights and our endless workloads’.”
“Then you have to be honest to people, and at a certain point you have to tell them it’s better to go, or you see them coming off and understand what needs to be done.”