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Formula 1 drivers support reducing practice sessions



Formula 1 drivers support reducing practice sessions

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s call to reduce practice sessions during race weekends has received support from all Grand Prix drivers.

While F1 introduced sprint races last year, the drivers believe that the traditional format of three practice sessions could be reduced to one or two.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s desire to decrease the number of practice sessions during race weekends with no significant competition has garnered support from all the Grand Prix drivers.

Domenicali has emphasized the importance of having a competitive element throughout the entire grand prix weekend. To achieve this, F1 introduced sprint races last year, and they have now increased the number of sprint races to six for this season.

Formula 1 drivers support reducing practice sessions

During the MotoGP season opener in Portugal last weekend, the previous Ferrari team principal attended the event. This was the first race following the championship’s new format, which includes a standalone Saturday sprint race that covers half the full grand prix distance instead of a free practice session.

At the event, the former team principal reiterated their endorsement of the new concept, stating that they support the elimination of free practice sessions. They believe that while these sessions are useful for engineers, they are not well-liked by the public.

Although Formula 1 has introduced a new format with sprint events, the majority of races still follow the traditional structure of three free practice sessions.


However, in 2021, the two Friday sessions were shortened from 90 to 60 minutes. Sprint events have one 60-minute practice session on Friday before qualifying, and FP2 takes place on Saturday ahead of the sprint race that sets the grid for the final race. Despite these changes, both Domenicali and F1 are advocating for further alterations to the format.

George Russell, who is not only a Mercedes driver but also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, expressed his belief that there is no necessity for three practice sessions in Formula 1. He highlighted the difference in format between F1 and F2/F3, where there is only one 45-minute free practice session before qualifying.

Russell responded with a clear “No” when asked if Formula 1 requires three free practice sessions. He acknowledged that having more practice time would help drivers become more familiar and comfortable with their cars.

Formula 1 drivers support reducing practice sessions

Russell believes that Formula 1’s current structure of three practice sessions is not fair, as F2 and F3 have fewer races but less practice time. According to him, the lower-tier series should have more practice sessions since they do not get the opportunity to test as frequently as F1.

While Russell doesn’t think that having no practice sessions is a viable option, he also doesn’t believe that having three is necessary. He initially wasn’t in favor of sprint races, but having participated in six over the past two years, he has come to enjoy them. He considers it crucial to have action on Fridays for both drivers and fans alike, and believes it is an essential element for entertainment.

Pierre Gasly of Alpine supports Russell’s stance and agrees that having two practice sessions is sufficient.

Gasly firmly believes that three practice sessions are not necessary in Formula 1. While it’s beneficial to work on fine-tuning the car balance, he thinks that one or two practice sessions at the most are sufficient for drivers.


Regarding sprint races, Gasly noted that there are varied opinions on their impact. He suggests that it’s essential to discuss different options to enhance entertainment and examine the current format critically. It’s necessary to consider ways to improve the entire weekend’s format and keep things exciting for fans.

Nyck de Vries, a rookie from AlphaTauri, also supports the idea of reducing the number of practice sessions in F1. He emphasized the benefits of aligning the structure of practice sessions in F1 with those in F2 and F3. According to de Vries, if there are changes, they should be applicable to all drivers. He has won the F2 title in 2019 and previously raced in GP3 in 2016 before it was rebranded as F3.

Formula 1 drivers support reducing practice sessions

Lando Norris, who came second in F2 in 2018 before moving up to F1, favors providing more track time for F2 and F3. However, he did not comment on reducing the number of practice sessions in F1.

Norris agrees with the idea of providing more track time for F2 and F3, but he also pointed out that this would require an increase in the number of tire sets available to these junior series. When asked about reducing practice time in F1, he didn’t comment.

Norris highlighted one of the problems with F2 and F3, which is the poor quality of the tires that last only for about a lap. He added that the cost of racing in these categories is quite high compared to the number of laps you get to race, and this is shocking.

He called for more track time to be given to junior drivers in these categories, as it is essential for them to gain experience and develop their skills before moving up to Formula 1.

Nico Hulkenberg admits that he hasn’t given much thought to the idea of reducing free practice sessions in F1. He pointed out that while practice sessions are crucial for drivers, they are not as interesting as qualifying or the race.


He also noted that he enjoyed the junior session format with reduced running before qualifying. Meanwhile, Logan Sargeant, an F1 rookie, doesn’t think that three practice sessions are necessary, despite their benefits for a driver of his experience.

Logan Sargeant thinks that three free practice sessions in F1 is excessive, especially coming from F2, where drivers have to take risks much earlier. As a rookie, he doesn’t mind having two or three practice sessions, but he doesn’t think that three is necessary going forward.

Russell emphasized that while it’s essential to have something at stake in every session, F1 shouldn’t go as far as eliminating free practice sessions entirely.

Domenicali had previously suggested that every time drivers are on the track, there should be some form of point or award to compete for. He implied that as part of this approach, there could be a single practice session without any stakes, but he also referred to it as a “very aggressive” strategy.

As F1 testing is limited, and in-season testing is banned, with the exception of Pirelli tyre testing, which is strictly regulated, it would be essential to keep at least one practice session for teams to experiment with new parts and run a more flexible program.

Russell believes that the purpose of practice sessions should be to dial in the car and test new components for the future. He thinks that having one session is sufficient for drivers to perform various tasks they need to do to help with the car’s development. As F1 is still the pinnacle of the sport, it’s crucial to have opportunities to trial new things, and not just rely on the car created at the start of the season.

Norris agrees that having less practice time can be beneficial for drivers and teams since it forces them to be competitive right away.


He believes that the beauty of having only one practice session is that teams can try new things, develop them further and improve upon them. On the other hand, if there’s a session that’s points-worthy or has a reward, drivers and teams are less likely to try new things and take risks.

Formula 1 drivers support reducing practice sessions

Norris appreciates the idea of having practice sessions that are followed by a more competitive challenge, but he’s not entirely convinced about the value of the short Saturday races that determine the grid. He prefers the idea of having a single practice session that immediately leads to a more serious challenge, rather than breaking up the weekend format with sprint races.

Norris finds the format of having FP1 followed by qualifying to be very exciting and challenging for drivers and teams. It puts them all under pressure and gets them straight into a demanding scenario.

While he understands the concept of sprint races, he’s still not a big fan of them. He prefers the build-up and pressure of Sunday and qualifying on Saturday. He’s not sure how the format could be changed, but he thinks that having FP1 followed immediately by qualifying is a cool idea.

Apart from the ongoing discussions about the race weekend structure, the drivers also support changes that will enable personnel to arrive at grands prix later to minimize the time spent away.

Before the Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled, the original schedule for this year included 24 races, leading to concerns about the impact it may have on personnel.

Russell suggests that for the benefit of the thousands of people travelling around the world, the first practice session on Friday should take place in the afternoon or evening. This would alleviate pressure on teams to arrive on Wednesday.


Currently, if the first session is on Friday morning, teams need to be there on Thursday, which often requires flying in on Wednesday.

Pushing the first session back would allow teams to fly in on Thursday morning instead, which would save a lot of time and effort. Over 24 races in a year, this could add up to almost a month of extra time at home or sleeping in their own beds, which would be huge for everyone involved in the sport.

Gasly supports Russell’s position and thinks that delaying the first practice session would be a good idea. He believes that it’s crucial to preserve Sunday as the centerpiece of the grand prix weekend.

There have been discussions about moving the weekend forward and having a later session on Friday, which he and other drivers are keen to implement. With more races being added to the calendar in the future, this change would become even more crucial.

Hamilton believes that F1 needs to ensure that time is utilized better during a grand prix weekend. He thinks that the weekend format needs to be re-examined to maximize the use of time for drivers, teams, and fans.

Hamilton supports the concept of sprint races but cautions that there are tracks where it may not be suitable.

He believes that F1 should explore other alternative formats as well. While he thinks that the sprint race weekend is a cool concept, there are some tracks where it may not work as well. For instance, at Monaco, it would essentially be two of the same races, which may not be as exciting for fans.


Hamilton suggests that F1 needs to be more dynamic and explore different solutions for tracks like Monaco to make the weekend more engaging for fans.

While he likes the format of the sprint weekend, he thinks that F1 should be open to exploring other formats as well. He enjoys the pressure of the one practice session followed by qualifying in the sprint race weekend format.

Hamilton believes that time can be better utilized during the weekend, especially when there is a lot of downtime between sessions. For instance, during the recent race in Jeddah, the drivers were not at the track until 3pm, which led to a lot of idle time. Hamilton thinks that F1 can be more efficient with its time and maximize the use of the weekend.

Albon agrees with the need to make changes to the weekend structure, given the toll it takes on personnel. He thinks that it’s important to look for ways to reduce travel time and workload, especially with the increasing number of races on the calendar.

Albon shares Domenicali’s view and thinks that F1 could benefit from reducing the number of practice sessions. He suggests that a single, extended practice session could serve the purpose of giving teams and drivers enough track time while also reducing travel time and workload for personnel. Albon is interested in exploring this idea further and thinks that F1 should be open to considering different formats for the weekend.

Albon highlights the challenges of a long and demanding season, with 23 races that require personnel to travel around the world. He notes that teams are now having to rotate their personnel to cope with the demands of the season, which can be difficult for everyone involved.

Albon suggests that a two-day weekend format could work well, with the teams arriving on Thursday and doing media activities on Friday.


He thinks that one practice session is sufficient to address the necessary technical aspects such as braking and engine cooling, as well as to complete a race simulation. This would allow the teams to get a feel for the track and prepare for the race without requiring excessive amounts of time and resources.

Albon also suggests that the extended practice session could be two hours long and include a few sets of tyres for the teams to use. He notes that this approach could be more environmentally friendly by reducing the need for tyre blankets, which are used to heat the tyres before they go on the car. This would be a positive step towards reducing the environmental impact of the sport.

Albon suggests that by limiting testing, it creates more unpredictability and makes it more important for teams to do well in the simulator work.

He believes that often teams tend to have a good car early in the weekend and that an extended practice session on a two-day weekend would provide sufficient track time to get the car dialed in before qualifying.

It seems that the drivers are in agreement that F1 could reduce the number of free practice sessions, with some suggesting that two or even one would be sufficient.

The idea of aligning F1 with F2 and F3 by reducing the number of practice sessions is also gaining traction, although some drivers are cautious about removing practice sessions entirely.

While the sprint race format has been well-received by some, there are concerns that it may not be suitable for all tracks. As such, F1 may need to explore other alternative formats to keep things dynamic.


There is also a push to reduce the time personnel spend away from home, with suggestions to delay the first practice session to allow teams to arrive later in the week.

It remains to be seen what changes F1 will make to its race weekend structure, but the drivers’ unified stance on reducing practice sessions may well have an impact on the decision-making process.

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