F1 is back in Melbourne two years after the grand prix was called off, hours before training began for the 2020 season following the first confirmed case of COVID-19 at the track.
This year’s Australian Grand Prix is the third round of the season, but is traditionally the first race of the campaign. The season started with two heads from the Middle East in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
But the independent nature of the race meant most team members only got a few days at home before flying to Australia early in order to adjust to the time difference.
Russell felt there was a need for more attention going forward about Australia’s placement on the calendar, suggesting it should be paired with a race in the Middle East to break up some travel.
“Having Melbourne in between races, especially being so self-contained, is very difficult for the teams and everyone,” said Russell.
“People come on Saturday and Sunday to acclimatize to the conditions and the time zone change, and that’s quite a lot. I think more needs to be thought of.
“There is no reason why we can’t do a back-to-back match with one of the Middle East races. It feels like another double header for all the teams with the amount of time they spend in this part of the world.
“As the season goes on, we need to find a better balance.”
The last time Australia appeared on the calendar not as a season opener was in 2010, when it marked the second round of the season after Bahrain.
Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing
Photography: Carl Bingham / motorsports pictures
The Malaysian Grand Prix was held one week after Melbourne, allowing those returning to Europe to cut the trip.
Christian Horner, Red Bull Formula 1 boss, said Australia’s existence as an independent race made it “too expensive” in terms of logistics for the teams.
“Coming here for one weekend, I think, for everyone, it’s such a big time change, it’s expensive,” Horner said.
“From a calendar perspective, it would have been better if we had another race we moved into from here.”
Asked if Formula 1 should try to work it out in terms of future schedules, Horner said: “It’s very difficult for them with the calendar, because you had Easter next weekend for example.
“In keeping with the correct racing schedule, there are always issues that they have to solve.
“It’s tough for the teams, obviously coming all the way here for the weekend.”