Busy schedule in F1? Frijns has done it for years: 'Travelling is brutal' (2024)

In Formula 1, there are plenty of complaints about the horrendously busy schedule in 2024: A record 24 Grand Prix weekends are scheduled; drivers and team members are hardly going to be at home. Robin Frijns has known for several years how tough an overcrowded race calendar can feel. The Dutchman will race in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship in 2024. "If I stop racing later, my girlfriend will be very happy," says Frijns.

It is a rare moment: Robin Frijns at home around the kitchen table in Maastricht. After the 1812 kilometres of Qatar, in which the 32-year-old driver made the BMW hypercar debut in the WEC, there is a chance to recover for a while. "Travelling is brutual, though," Frijns told GPblog. "I have driven two championships in each of the last four or five years. I know how to handle that."

"I've just been to Qatar, I'm going to Brazil next week. Two weeks later I'm in Tokyo, on the other side of the world. So in that respect, jet lag can be challenging at times, but I have decent solutions for that. That's sleeping pills, but also keeping an eye on time in terms of eating, etcetera. Some people are better at that than others. It doesn't really bother me."

This is how Robin Frijns stays fresh and fit

In any case, a fit condition, both physically and mentally, is necessary to keep up with all the travelling and to perform as well as possible on the circuit. "I have never had any problems mentally. There are many drivers who have mental coaches. I don't bother with all that. I can also reset myself fairly quickly after a bad race. In terms of physically, the more you drive, the stronger you get. You don't train specifically to have better endurance in the car. You have to train to cope with the impact as soon as it comes."

Meanwhile, Frijns is 32. In Formula E and the WEC, he is slowly becoming one of the veterans. The Dutchman has certainly not lost any of his speed, as was shown during the second E-Prix of Saudi Arabia recently. In it, Frijns finished second with Envision Racing. "I have always said to myself that I want to retire around the age of 40. That's when my girlfriend will be happy."

"But I'm like; if I'm forty and I'm still fast, and get another decent contract for two or three years, then you're stupid if you don't do it. It's the same for Alonso. If he wasn't fast enough anymore, he wouldn't be in Formula 1 either. The same applies to me. If I can still compete with the best, I'll just keep going. Of course, I won't get in at 55. But if I'm still fast at 43, then I can still do races."

Frijns has racing in his blood

Stepping out of motorsport completely at some point? Frijns honestly says it's an unrealistic scenario: "Everyone in motorsport says, 'If I stop, I'm gone'. But they always come back in the end. The sport never leaves you completely. I noticed that myself in the coronavirus pandemic. I had gone from place to place for five or six years, never home. And then there was coronavirus lockdown and everything was at a standstill for months. The first two weeks you think: 'Oh, nice'. But by the third week you're kind of fed up, you're happy to get in the car. So yes, when the time comes that I want to stop, that I can be seen somewhere a few months later."

Frijns' role within the paddock later in life is written in the stars. What it won't be is clear: "Well, I won't be team boss. That doesn't really attract me. I have trained young guys before. Back in Formula 1, I didn't have a whole lot to do. I was a test driver and reserve driver. Then you sit on the bench more than anything else, so to speak."

"Then, in karting, I did coach guys. I did enjoy doing that. I learned a lot from it too; watching the mistakes they make and then learning for myself how they think. That may sound a bit weird, but it all makes sense in the end. I've had my own business for a few years now. So if I stop sometime, I might be more involved with my own business than anything else. I don't have the goal: 'When I'm forty, I want to have two or three guys under me'. Maybe, maybe not."

New adventure with BMW M Motorsport in WEC

Retirement is obviously still a long way off for Frijns, who has only just become one of BMW's factory drivers in the WEC. At the opening race in Qatar, the Dutchman finished 11th with his teammates Rene Rast and Sheldon van der Linde. Frijns says BMW M Motorsport learned a lot during the debut race.

"A race is always different from testing. In races, you can always compare yourself to the others and know where you stand. You get punished if you make a mistake. And in testing, you are always alone. In testing, you don't run at the limit. In the race, you are faced with the facts. And that did happen. As was also expected, there were a lot of little things that together make the difference."

Frijns expects the WEC to have a bright future ahead: "A lot of manufacturers are already on board. Honda is thinking about getting in. Everyone is getting on that WEC train. It's already becoming big. I hope it will, as I think, grow well." And that is happening with big names, such as former F1 world champion Jenson Button. "You can also see that Button is not really the fastest. We are really showing that the level is very high. If you look at the drivers in the hypercars, that's all very high level. That's why I'm so keen to be there."

Politics is everywhere, in Formula 1 as well as WEC

The WEC cannot compete with Formula 1, in terms of attention and sponsorship. Frijns also thinks it is unfair to compare the two championships. There are similarities in one area, though: "In terms of politics, Formula 1 is the worst," Frijns says. "That's obvious. Politics is everywhere. If you go to WEC or Formula E, but Formula 1 stands out. In the Formula 1 world, there are a lot of journalists. If they catch something, everyone starts writing. They always write something down first before asking whether something is correct, yes or no. That's typical journalists. They are free to do, but then the gossip comes out."

"We do have a lot of politics in the WEC, in terms of BoP [Balance of Performance, to artificially create a more 'level' playing field in the races]. There are a lot of manufacturers and there is always discussion of: 'We are in a bad position'. If it's good, they're not going to complain, like Porsche so far. We haven't had a great BoP yet. That discussion is always going on in the background. We, as drivers, don't get much of that. But if an owner or a leader of a manufacturer puts out some stuff, it always comes out, yes."

Busy schedule in F1? Frijns has done it for years: 'Travelling is brutal' (2024)


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