‘There are some frustrations’: Drivers deal with the long offseason in Arizona

On the ground at the United States Grand Prix, everyone knows why drivers occasionally feel like they have to hide the construction tracks underneath their cars. They are the precious, expensive, very delicate fruit of Formula One.

If that yield is on target, the orange crop might not see a drop in 2019. But for those whose livelihood depends on race success, the fruit of the tree looks less sweet this season.

The longest off-season in F1 history arrived this week with thousands of workers preparing to build a new race track by the Hoover Dam on the California coast. Once that is complete in two or three months, what remains will be sliced into 1,427 cubic meters of rock. That rock will then be sent by truck to a refinery in Stockton, California, to be exposed to the elements.

Unfortunately, the switch to a longer schedule has taken its toll. The carpenters, cement workers, welders and others whose jobs depend on F1 have taken on more and more work as the racing season — which once finished in October — continued throughout the winter and spring. As a result, drivers’ private security team now includes a detail of migrant workers in the United States, waiting in line to help with barricades and sweep the grounds of any trouble.

“It’s work, work, work,” one of the drivers, Romain Grosjean, told AFP, the news agency. “I’m sure that for the sponsors and for the public we don’t want to change the rhythm.”

One Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, has even said he would rather escape the Phoenix suburbs on his own for a few days in October than stick around for construction all the time. And that work isn’t just in the stadium, which turns into an airport-like tent of checkpoints and customs.

“To be honest, the best thing for them in Phoenix is when you’re actually not there,” said Bottas. “Because they can’t win the race.”

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