Martin Brundle has described a “dispute” he witnessed between teams on the grid at the Qatar Grand Prix, something that he feels was due to the pressures of the recent triple-header.
The commentator claims that there seemed to be some disagreement between Ferrari and Mercedes over who should be in fifth place on the grid. Carlos Sainz was due to start from the position, with Valtteri Bottas in sixth, but there may perhaps have been some confusion given that Bottas had been demoted from third due to a penalty.
Brundle thinks that the strain of Qatar forming the final race in a three-weekend back-to-back run of events – following on from the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix – was a big ask for everyone involved.
“Formula 1 was rather winging it with the triple header of Mexico/Brazil/Qatar,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports.
“It wouldn’t be fair to say we ‘got away with it’ because there’s an immense amount organisational skills and can-do attitude involved as F1 approaches having delivered 39 races during this awful pandemic, but as I watched Ferrari and Mercedes crews dispute who was starting fifth on the race grid for example, the cracks were showing up.”
“Impressive dedication but brutal”
Brundle admires the dedication and hard work of the team personnel in managing this triple-header, but also feels that such a busy schedule can be “brutal”.
“I’ve personally spent 41 hours in the air for those three races and I likely had it easiest of anybody as I went directly from each race to the next and only had myself to worry about,” the former F1 driver said.
“Five races in six weekends, including two completely new venues in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are a tall order for everyone involved in delivering this blockbuster, and after the summer break next year it’s 10 races in 13 weeks…
“Speaking to some friends who work in F1 teams on the way home in the early hours of Monday morning, they were stepping off that plane and heading directly to the factory to prepare for debrief meetings on Tuesday. Impressive dedication but brutal at the same time.”
The 2021 season has featured three triple-headers, and they will feature again in the 23-race 2022 calendar.