More F1 Drivers Want to Eliminate Practice Sessions from Race Weekends
McLaren’s Lando Norris said support series including F2 and F3 would benefit more than F1 with extra practice track time.
Formula 1 drivers aren’t exactly known for giving up any room on track, but some are floating the idea that’s what they’re willing to do. Motorsport.com reported Thursday that drivers, including McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ George Russell, say they support a restructured format that could eliminate three practice sessions completely and hand over that track time to F2 and F3 series’ drivers instead.
“For my time in [F2], when you see the cost of how much it is to do this series versus the amount of laps you get, it's shocking… it's really stupid,” Norris said. "To give them more track time… it's definitely a good thing for junior drivers to get that from Formula 1."
Mercedes’ Russell, who won the F2 championship in 2018, largely agreed: "I don't think it's right that Formula 1 has three times the amount of practice that you have in the F3 and F2 categories. They should be the ones to get more practice, also because they're doing less races, they don't get to test that often."
While that may be true, it’s almost undeniable that F1 drivers—with prior sim work, previous racing experience, and everything else—probably don’t need to sight their laps much more than one or two times ahead of the race. F1 engineers tasked with setup would likely take all the data they can get, but a surprise here or there in F1 wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome, considering the past couple of snoozefest races we’ve had so far this year.
F1 brass is reportedly considering a format that could scrap practice completely, and include qualifying on Friday, a sprint race on Saturday, and full Grand Prix on Sunday. A medium-stakes Friday qualifying session might be more interesting than a no-stakes practice session, which produces more penalties than drama in most cases. (Let’s not forget the 2006 Hungary Grand Prix and Fernando Alonso’s hilarious penalties.) At any rate, other drivers aren’t so jazzed about the idea. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen reportedly said he wasn’t in favor of changing the format too much—or at all—likely because it appears to be working very well for him.