F1 weekend format change agreed

Formula One has returned to its hibernation state following the incident packed Australian GP. Due to the cancellation of this years race in Shanghai the F1 competitors now face a break from on track action for almost 4 weeks.

The Chinese GP was called off before the season began due to ongoing lock downs and outbreaks of Covid-19.



Practice 2 dropped for Baku

The teams and drivers will emerge next in Azerbaijan as the European season commences and the Baku weekend will see the first Sprint event of the year.

At the previous meeting of the F1 commission, Stefano Domenicali strongly urged the delegates to consider dropping some of the practice sessions durning an F1 weekend. 

Typically on Friday where there’s no on track competitive action has proven more difficult for the race promoters to sell to fans, without discounting ticket prices heavily.

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Extra F1 qualifying session Saturday

Formula One is set to trial having just one practice session during the Azerbaijan GP. Agreement was reached in Australia amongst the teams and F1 to drop the Saturday practice session and replace it with a second qualifying round.

The terms will now have practice on the first session on Friday followed by a qualifying hour for the Grand Prix on Sunday. 

Saturday will be devoted to the Sprint with qualifying in the morning and the 1/3 grand prix distance race held in the afternoon.



FP2 at Sprint weekends pointless

This removes the somewhat pointless FP2 currently held on Saturday morning after qualifying has taken place on Friday. This means the cars are in pace ferme and cannot be changed leading to a practice session which is merely about collecting tyre data.

Also discussed was whether Sprint qualifying could use a different format. Sending drivers out one at a time to record a flying lap was suggested but it failed to receive a majority support.

There is a concern about the number of tyres available for the weekend given a regular qualifying session often uses more sets of rubber than the equivalent 1 hour of practice.

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Extra qualifying creates tyre conundrum

Pirelli shipped the tyres for the Azerbaijan GP weekend back in February and so providing additional sets to the teams is not an option.

Further, by increasing the amount of rubber burned up during a weekend, F1 would be taking a backward step in its progression towards a more sustainable future. 

Whilst the teams are agreed on the new format for the Baku weekend there are technical hurdles for it to overcome before it becomes a reality.



Tyre advantage to less competitive teams

The motorsport federation, F1 commission and World Motor Sport Council will all need to green light the proposal together with any tweaks to the extra Saturday qualifying session though practicable.

Reducing the new qualifying session to less than an hour is not thought to be an option and one suggestion is that the teams are left to decide how they use their tyres during the weekend.

The teams who failed to make Q2 and Q3 on Friday for Grand Prix qualifying will have more tyres available and may fair better in Sprint qualifying.

READ MORE: Spectator injured at Australian GP

One response to “F1 weekend format change agreed

  1. China’s zero-COVID policy got lifted in January, but more relevantly, The useless FP2 getting replaced by another qualifying would be good, & given the tyre situation for the event, a one-shot format would be better as teams could use a fresh set more confidently, but we’ll see.

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