Van Amersfoort: F2, F3 Teams Need More Staff to Manage Burnout

Van Amersfoort: F2, F3 Teams Need More Staff to Manage Burnout

staffVan Amersfoort: F2, F3 Teams Need More Staff to Manage Burnout

Van Amersfoort Racing team boss Frits van Amersfoort told InsideF2 that he believes Formula 2 and Formula 3 teams do not have enough staff members for the workload of a race weekend.

The 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship sporting regulations stipulate that on a race weekend, Formula 2 teams may have no more than 12 team personnel “associated in any way with the operation of the cars within the confines of the circuit.” This number is 11 in F3 across the paddock, in which each team fields three cars rather than two.

In both series, this count excludes drivers; team principals who have duties distinct from those of team managers; and any staff ‘whose duties are solely and genuinely connected with sponsors, marketing, public relations and security’.

On F2’s 13 race weekends this year, many staff will be working for more than 12 hours each day, with overnight rebuilds and other emergencies necessitating even longer hours. That comes in addition to testing, preparation at the team’s factory in Zeewolde in the Netherlands during the week, and travel time to and from rounds as far as Australia.

On Wednesday, Formula 1 unveiled a record 24-round calendar for its 2024 season, which will run from 29 February to 8 December. This announcement has sparked conversations about staff burnout in motorsport, including in the series on the F1 support bill.

Speaking to InsideF2 at a media roundtable ahead of F2’s Silverstone round – the second of four rounds this month – Van Amersfoort said he and team co-owner Rob Niessink share these concerns.

“The F2 and F3 teams are too small. With all these back-to-back races, the workload is immense and there’s little time for people to recover, but it’s in the regulations, so we have to deal with it.

“But it’s quite a concern for our team as a company. Now we have here this thing about the F2 and F3, but we shouldn’t forget that the F4 team is even more busy than F2 and F3 are together.

“It’s quite a concern and it’s not easy to cope with, especially the travelling. It’s hard – it’s hard for everybody.”

While junior single-seater calendars are usually shorter, it is common for personnel to work across several series at once. At the Formula Regional level, VAR operates teams in the 10-round European championship from April to October as well as in the five-round Middle East series in January and February in collaboration with Pinnacle Motorsport.

VAR competes in three series at the F4 level: F4 UAE in collaboration with Pinnacle during the winter, Italian F4 from April to October, and Spanish F4 in collaboration with Monlau Motorsport from May to November. Five schedule clashes among seven rounds each in Italian and Spanish F4, however, make the sharing of staff all but impossible in those series.

The demands of junior single-seater schedules can surprise new and prospective team members, some of whom end up taking their first professional jobs in motorsport with VAR.

“Before we take on staff, the first half-hour I spend telling them why they shouldn’t do it,” Van Amersfoort admitted.

“They have to realize how hard it is to live this life and that they have to be convinced that they want to do this because in the season it’s very hard to lose people. You can’t replace them so easily, and it takes time before they really are a complete member of the team,” he continued.

“We are nearly every day trying to put and keep everything together.”

Van Amersfoort also told InsideF2 that he often plays the role of a counselor for his staff members, particularly new ones.

“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 also.

“I mean, maybe it sounds a bit funny, but because of the popularity of … Formula 1, a lot of young people think that racing is all about opening laptops and programming race cars and 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 sh***y, but tomorrow will be nice.’”

Van Amersfoort also said that strong results like Richard Verschoor’s F2 Feature Race win last weekend in Austria, which was also the team’s first victory and podium in the series, help buoy staff during grueling weekends.

“When there is success in a team, it’s so much easier for people to get motivated, so last weekend’s win in F2 was extremely important also for the team members to show [that] this is why we do it and this is why we sometimes have sleepless nights and our endless workloads.”

But, Van Amersfoort continued, “You have to be honest to people. At a certain point, [either] you have to tell them it’s better to go, or you see them coming off and understanding what needs to be done.”

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