Formula 1 May Be Ditching Friday Practices in Favor of More Races
Owners, Liberty Media, are currently debating the move for the future.
It was announced on Tuesday that Formula 1 may be looking to do away with Friday practices in order to squeeze more races into its packed calendar. Ross Brawn, F1's Managing Director of Motorsports and former team principal, said in a statement that owners Liberty Media are discussing the possibility of expanding to what is an expected 25-race schedule in the future. By eliminating the early weekend segments, Brawn says that the sport could take an 'open mind' approach to finding a format that would better suit the expansion, according to Forbes.
Brawn explained that there are a number of issues to work around in order to satisfy the investments and logistics of teams, broadcasters, and sponsors. With each every team but one (Haas) currently being stationed in Europe, the average amount of travel eclipses 100,000 miles over the course of a year. This, Brawn hopes, could be solved by axing Friday events from the schedule.
"...if we didn’t have Friday running, we could do more races, because logistically it’s better for the teams. But Friday running is important for the promoters and the broadcasters. How do we find the right solution?"
He reassured that quality will still stand as the most important priority. Formula 1 has greatly bolstered its presence in non-European countries in the last decade, but when an event doesn't meet certain standards, it isn't kept around for the sake of quantity. Brawn then detailed that this will be a major consideration going forward.
“I think on the number of races, quality is the vital thing,” he added. “There’s no point in having more races unless they are quality races – so location, the type of track, the ability to have a great race there is vital.
“The teams have logistical issues the more races we add, of course. One of the things we’re doing is looking at the format of a race weekend, to see if we need to change that to make it logistically easy for them to do more races. So we’ve got a very open mind about how we go forward.”
As it stands, only "four or five" Grand Prix hosts promote races properly, according to F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches. Brawn states that series officials are now taking pride in collaborating with these local hosts, however, and it has shown in both ratings and attendance.
“One of the things I’m proud of this year is the change in the relationship with the promoters, with the race tracks,” he said. “We’re an organization now that wants to say ‘yes’ when the promoter needs something.
“Here we moved the qualifying back two hours [in Austin] to 4pm, and [COTA boss] Bobby Epstein told me this morning that he had 20,000 more spectators for qualifying than he’s ever had before."
Rest assured, the Sunday format will stay the same. F1 believes that it has found great success in how race days are planned and executed, so don't be looking for any changes in that regard. Brawn mentioned this by saying that Liberty is "not looking at changing the core event" as Fridays remain the only day in question.