F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says it would be a ‘big mistake’ to mismanage the restructuring of F1’s weekends, a process the sport is engaging in now.
F1 has been evaluating possible changes to the weekend structure since it was first adopted, with one particularly popular proposal suggesting race weekends should have only two days of on-track running so as to limit team data collection and lessen stress on engineers.
A two-day F1 format has yet to be used in any races but one last year at Imola, with all other instances the result of weather or other factors. No such changes are expected any time soon, but alterations are expected to be made to the greater race weekend format under the sport’s new leadership, Domenicali.
The Italian makes note of F1’s recent decisions to run daytime races at 3:00 PM local time, and says that he looks to consult other F1 teams and major stakeholders before taking more consequential action to modify the weekend. The FP1 and FP2 sessions too will be run for 1-hour each in 2021 from the two hours.
“We will bring back race starting times on the hour, so we will have the [day] races starting at 3:00 PM [local time], not 3:10,” said Domenicali to Sky Sports. “This is something connected to the historic starting [time] of racing and we are thinking about how to keep the racing format alive in a different way.
“We are talking with the F1 teams, because of course, it’s important to have the opinion of the teams, but also the opinion of the stakeholders and people like [the media] that have incredible experience. We’re going to have dedicated meetings to prepare the right offer.
“We need to be sure that we don’t lose any opportunity, and we need to be sure that we are not auto-referential in what we are offering, because this will be a big mistake,” Domenicali insists. Few changes are expected to be made for 2021, with 2022 a more likely season for the introduction of new structure, where track run isn’t changing.
One change for 2021, though, focuses on prize money, and its distribution. A regulation implemented to combat financial losses suffered because of COVID-19, Domenicali says he’s hopeful the rules do not become a deciding factor.
“What Liberty [Media] did in order to help the teams was an incredible gesture,” said Domenicali. “The budget cap is a very important element to consolidate this base, but you’re right. You cannot have a sponsor that are not [just] happy to have events around the world, because you cannot offer them the services [due to COVID].
“I hope that this year is really the transitional year versus the end of this season because if this crisis goes a bit longer then sure that is something that could jeopardize the success of [F1’s future]. We hope that within the end of 2021 [this is no longer a concern].”
Here’s revised times for F1 2021
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Here’s Stefano Domenicali on news OEM and Ferrari