F1 Managing Director Ross Brawn confirmed that the sport will stick with the current three-day format but Friday is set to be revised from as early as 2020.
With the 2020 F1 season set to be the longest with 22 races, the decision is already set for six pre-season test days instead of eight and no in-season running apart from the Pirelli tyre tests for selected teams at pre-determined dates.
The debate around altering the F1 race weekend of three days has been long discussed with last weekend’s Japanese GP giving rare insight on how a two-day format could work with qualifying and race stacked on the same day but it doesn’t seem a long-term idea.
Brawn, in fact, shut down changing the weekend to two days as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton heavily proposed. The three-day format will continue on but there will be a change on the Friday scheduling as confirmed by Brawn in his post-race column.
It is not clear, though, what the change will be and from when it will be implemented – whether it starts from 2020 or from 2021. But what is clear, is that, there will be no change for Saturday and Sunday i.e qualifying and the grand prix.
“Typhoon Hagibis was a major player at this year’s Japanese Grand Prix, forcing the organisers to cancel all Saturday track activity and reschedule qualifying for Sunday morning, just four hours before the race,” started Brawn.
“So, it was a Super Sunday in Suzuka and that naturally reopened the debate about the shape of an F1 weekend. This is an aspect of the sport we have focused on in some detail as we work towards the rules that will govern F1 over the coming years and we have taken into account the voices of all of the key players – the promoters, the teams and last but not least the fans.
“I’ll be honest and say that there has been strong consensus, especially among the organisers, for maintaining the three-day format of track activity, although with a different timetable. It’s true that a day like Sunday in Suzuka offers a great show in just a few hours but it would confine the feeder series races to the previous days.
“After careful analysis we have concluded that the best solution is to keep the event over three days, revising the Friday format but leaving the rest untouched, with qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
“In order to meet the demands of the teams and in order to slightly increase the number of Grands Prix, which will be at 22 next year, we have given consideration to reorganising the schedule so that teams and drivers can arrive a day later. We’ll talk about the detail at the end of the month, when the new regulations will be published.”
There were discussions of moving the pre-weekend scrutineering to Friday with parc ferme conditions from the until race day instead of having it from qualifying. However, the F1 teams did not like the idea of such imposition and prospect of larger penalties.
It is unclear if they are going ahead with that idea or they are simply eliminating Thursday’s media day and shifting it to Friday. There were reports of that happening surfacing on Monday, but nothing can be confirmed at this stage.
There are certainly talks of three qualifying races in 2020 in France, Belgium and Russia as per reports from Japanese GP. The order for the Saturday races will be decided as per the championship order at the start of the grand prix weekend and the Sunday order to be determined as per the result of the qualifying race.
What we think…
Personally, the idea of having media day on Friday may not be bad after all. To even lower the stress and workload, F1 could have the usual scrutineering on Friday morning without implementing parc ferme conditions and maybe remove one practice session.
If they remove Thursday, it will certainly lessen some of the workload, even for the media. The media sessions can be scheduled for Friday from morning until afternoon and then they could run a two-hour lone practice session instead of two one and a half hour sessions.
In the same way, while keeping qualifying and race intact, they could have a one and a half hour second practice on Saturday morning. This means, they will only lose half hour from the current format of four hours of practice, spread from Friday until Saturday.
I am not sure if this has been discussed in all the meetings between the F1 teams, promoters and other parties but to me, it sounds like a best compromise. For races having support events, it will not affect their schedule as much as well, so win-win for all?
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