Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Hungaroring, 2019

Scrapping Friday practice not right for F1 – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says F1 shouldn’t scrap Friday practice sessions.

What they say

After limited Friday running at the Hungaroring due to rain the race itself proved dramatic, prompting some to suggest F1 should begin practice on Saturdays in future to save costs and create more unpredictability. But Wolff isn’t convinced:

We did that in the DTM many years ago and it felt like the weekend was not spectacular and special anymore.

If it’s cut short in two days it takes some value out of a race weekend and Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor racing and it’s the world championship among engineers, drivers and the best teams and therefore that is a thing I wouldn’t change. I would leave it on Friday.

What we can think about is cutting a session short on Friday or reducing the running time to 60-and-60 minutes rather than 90 minutes. These are things that are worth considering but I wouldn’t go for a radical cancellation of the Friday.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Pat Ruadh is this weekend’s caption competition winner:

Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon, 2019

Max was feeling confident, having logged many hours in the simulator.
Pat Ruadh (@Fullcoursecaution)

Thanks to everyone for the many great suggestions this weekend, especially Bowks, Black, Robbie, Jimmi Cynic, JamieFranklinF1, RP and Stephen Crowsen who also came up with great captions.

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On this day in F1

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  • 41 comments on “Scrapping Friday practice not right for F1 – Wolff”

    1. Totally agree with Toto.
      I still fondly remember Sunday’s Warm-up sessions… and even miss them a bit.
      Losing another two and as a result the whole day – is just plainly wrong.

      60/60 Sessions might be a compromise, but I would leave it as it is now.
      …and find a place for Formula W to join The Weekend.

    2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      19th August 2019, 0:31

      Me and my wife live on Lake Huron, we leave Thursday morning for a 10 hour drive to Montreal to her sisters place and wake up early Friday because in Montreal the city is alive and Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is packed for Friday practice. Getting rid of Friday running would be bad for this GP in my opinion, food, beverages, merchandise, and so on will lose out as well at the tracks.

      1. I think this is a very important argument. Track owners already face an uphill struggle to generate enough income from race weekends to offset the astronomical race hosting fees. Reducing the length of an event will reduce the track owners income. And the income generated in the rest of the city (hotel fees, food & drink, …) will also suffer, further straining the economic argument for justifying the race fees.

        1. @canadianjosh @wimb – I don’t disagree with this line of thinking. However, as someone on this site pointed out previously, perhaps the issue is how the costs/funds issue works in F1. Maybe F1 should be paying the hosting fee to the track, and then it is up to F1 to find profit in tickets, vendors, events, etc. The local area has its costs largely covered and can make revenue from hotel/restaurant taxes. And F1 has to actually be involved in promoting the sport and making races enjoyable for fans.

    3. Scrapping friday would bring unpredictability to the race. Tyres, fuel consumption, aero tweaks, all to be decided saturday morning. And at a different temperature than the race.
      Sure no top team would want that, since it gives way to the “wild factor” and the unexpected, in contrast to the millions invested.
      Would It be good for the show? Sure! Would It be fair? Would It be right? Your comments please!

      1. The problem is scrapping Friday makes it far less value for fans who are spending hundreds of dollars on tickets, travel (especially if you are going by plane overseas), hotels and such to attend a race weekend. For me a 2 day weekend wouldn’t be worth the cost.
        When I travel to an F1 race i am there to see F1 drivers in F1 cars & want to see as much of that as possible so i’d be against reducing F1 driver/Car race weekend running any further.

        Something Friday practice gives you the opportunity to do is walk around the circuit and watch from different areas. You don’t get the opportunity to do that with the shorter FP3 & definately don’t want to be wondering around the circuit during qualifying or races as thats when you want to be paying attention to the big screens to keep an eye on lap times, race positions and such.

        I actually think this is an aspect to attending a race weekend those that don’t go to races don’t really appreciate. But for those who do it’s a big advantage to attending the Friday practice sessions & add’s a huge amount of value to the trip.

        1. @roger-ayles, it is one of those things where there seems to be a conflict between those who attend the race in person and those who, presumably, mostly just watch the race on TV.

          The first group, naturally, feel that removing the Friday practise sessions removes part of the reason why they are there in the first place, which is to watch the cars. The second group, by contrast, might well not even watch the practise sessions to begin with and therefore probably feel that there is less value to something they don’t or can’t watch.

          The other aspect is that, whilst we talk about wanting to “bring unpredictability to the race”, the question is whether it really would do that for the long term anyway. I can see it doing so over a short period of time, but over time I expect that the teams would readjust and things would revert back to how they were.

          1. Whilst I’d like to keep Friday practice, I don’t think it’s as simple as those who attend a race wanting it and those who watch TV not – I’ve been to a single race five times and we always skip Friday just because the hotels are so damned expensive and it’s an extra day off work/away from the family. Conversely, I almost never miss a Friday practice on TV, though I usually watch it delayed.

          2. @anon – Agreed.

            Anything added to increase unpredictability will almost always only do so in the short term. The teams are good at working around boxes prescribed by the FIA/F1. Saw it with no team orders, with limited radio, with tire changes, with blown diffusers, linked suspensions, f-duct, etc.

            Unpredictability is interesting (to me) but the only way to get there for the long term is to find a way to allow very close racing, and to close up the field as well. This is just an example, but if the entire field was within 0.5 seconds, and they could all follow very closely to one another, it would be a much different season. Mistakes would matter. Racecraft would matter. Strategy would matter.* I would love for the sport to get to a point where that is possible.

            * – What I mean is that it used to be a big deal when someone had an error in qualifying or something. Or fell to the back at the start of the race. Now, if Hamilton or Vettel start at the back, it’s shocking if they AREN’T on the podium. :\

        2. @roger-ayles Fully agree, we attend a couple of Grand Prix a year and I echo your comments on the Friday of a Grand Prix weekend, you have the opportunity to watch the cars from a number of different locations, and walking around the circuit helps you understand the layout and the level changes that don’t come across as clearly on TV.

      2. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again—keep Friday practice, but don’t allow the teams to run the softest compound tyres. You can both limit the useful data and keep a decent amount of running for the fans.

        1. @markzastrow – I like that. Let them focus on car setup, not building up a detailed race strategy. Maybe take it a step further, and limit it to just the hards, that would simplify Pirelli’s logistics.

      3. Creating upredictability by hoping teams can’t prepair themselves properly, because there’s less practice? What an insult. All the teams will figure that out in no time.

        You could also provide teams randomly with bad parts or wrong setups, you know, to spice things up.

        I realy like the friday practice sessions, as a part of a race weekend. I like that whole 3 day build up to a race.

      4. @Only Facts! But only temporarily, though. In the long-term, things would eventually revert to how they are with the current amount of practice-running as teams would compensate for the loss of track-running via other methods, such as simulations instead.

      5. Would It be good for the show? Sure!

        I don’t see how engineering chaos will improve racing. Freak podiums once or twice a year? OK. At every race? It’s no better than Bernie’s sprinklers idea imo.

    4. Something I was thinking about with the constant talk of reducing practice, dropping friday running and such was how I think it’s a shame that younger/newer fans don’t have the same opportunities to see F1 cars as longer term fans did. Back when testing was still a thing we regularly used to go to Silverstone, Estoril, Jerez, Paul Ricard, Circuit De Catalunya & other circuits testing would take place & for very little get to just watch F1 cars all day.

      Sure it wasn’t always as exciting as a race weekend because you often had less cars/drivers there with them also spending extended time in the pits but it was still fantastic to just be there & get to spend so much time watching the cars.

      Modern fans have so much less opportunities to actually watch the cars on track & it’s already more expensive than it used to be to attend a race weekend that I think it would be a big loss to cut track running further & give fans less opportunity to watch the cars.

      1. I agree and I’m getting more and more concerned with this rush to reduce the amount of time cars spend on the track.

        Again – if this is being touted to increase unpredictability, it’s a rubbish argument because the good teams will cope better than the midfield. If it’s being touted to increase the number of races, it’s also rubbish because the big chunk of time involved in a race is not the days at the track, but the days spent getting to/from the tracks.

        If Friday’s are scrapped, I won’t bother travelling to see a race, simple as that.

        The way things are heading, I can see Friday and Saturday being scrapped, with just a Race on Sunday starting either in the finishing order from the previous race or the reverse with a 30 odd race calendar.

        1. RocketTankski
          19th August 2019, 8:29

          Perhaps they could go further. Scrap Fri, Sat and Sunday sessions and just award points based on an estimated probability. Play a dramatic 3 minute CGI animation of racing, with Hollywood music and special effects. That could also improve safety, be greener, reduce costs, and appeal to the perceived attention span of the yoof of today. :-)

    5. I was thinking maybe instead of dropping Friday altogether, maybe they could do something else besides practice – maybe a car show event like the F1 event in London, maybe something that gives a chance for young drivers, maybe comparing F1 and other cars on track, etc.

      1. Some tracks in areas with Motorsport heritage already fill up track time with support races, celebrity races and classic showcases. Melbourne has 4 full days of track action including everything you describe.

        But that’s the problem having races in places that have no heritage or interest in motor sport, beside the empty grandstands.

        1. But that’s the problem having races in places that have no heritage or interest in motor sport, beside the empty grandstands.

          We’ve got to start somewhere, so even if F1 landing on those shores is a top-down approach, maybe Liberty could also spark grassroots interest by organizing something like karting for the audience? e.g. the local promoter can sell a limited number of tickets priced slightly higher that allows the holder to receive and participate in a controlled karting event on a small portion of the circuit. Winner gets a prize + a drive around the track in a 2-seater demo car.

          That would be a possible way of: a) building up interest in motorsport (one event won’t magically do it, but maybe the proximity to F1 will generate disproportionate interest, which in this context is a good thing) b) filling out the Friday with something that engages the crowds.

    6. Any dtm fans here who could share their opinions about how the change has affected dtm?

      The way I see it fridays could be a thing the race promoter or even organizer gets to decide. If they want to do friday they can do friday. If they don’t then don’t. Of course these things need to be decided well advance because of tv and contracts but I don’t think losing fridays on some track is not that bad. If nobody is coming to watch it then for the track promoter for sure it doesn’t add up.

      I think it is question whether the rich teams want to do it. The drivers and smaller teams would probably welcome the change. After all every hour of practice session means thousands of hours of analysis at ferrari and mercedes whereas the smaller teams maybe can afford one tenth of that. The less practice the closer the pack.

      1. I think you’ll find the small teams put more value on Friday’s than the big teams @socksolid.

        Friday’s are where they can earn money from drivers paying to do a test in P1. They also allow the teams that have fallen behind to test new parts etc. Even Williams have made advances by testing upgrades on Friday’s.

        In the main, the bigger teams are far less reliant on Friday time.

    7. With every team pushing their own agenda, we must find what teams or drivers commenting in concerto that it would not produce any meaningful development, and ban these. It is fair to say that the front running teams dont want unpredictability because that would clearly hurt their chances, and after all (just look at the Ferrari challenge they talked about they wanted it, until it really came) . They are not here for the sport itself, but for the results.
      It was pretty telling with the telemetry thing and the virtual garages.
      Drastically reduce the amount of telemetry, ban virtual garages, and ban the streaming of telemetry data to outside sites.
      Reduce the number of people at a pitstop and reduce the overall amount of personnel a team can use.(these last two can make viable for the teams to have an a-b group from their support personnel to easen the burden ofbincrrasing the nimber of races)

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        19th August 2019, 8:42

        Thanks @phylyp
        Turned my Monday morning frown upside down

    8. Wolff is wrong but I want fp because it’s my fav part of the weekend. We get to actualy see all cars, how quick they can go as the cameras are not racing during fridays.

    9. “He already understands that he’s not at Ferrari or Mercedes and everything can’t be fixed in two weeks.”

      Sounds a lot like Ferrari.

    10. Is there any reason, why they can’t give more practice time on friday to the teams that are lower down the WCC order?
      It might introduce some unpredictability due to less practice time for the top teams, and it could help close the gap for the slower teams. It seems such an easy solution, that I feel I’m missing some obvious downside to this.

      1. I was going to suggest exactly the same thing. Give less track time to the top teams on a Friday. Come on Liberty, do something.

        1. @bulion @aliced I’m against this for the same reason I’m against Ferrari’s veto: It should be a level playing field.

          1. I would argue that there is not currently an equal playing field. Some teams have vastly more resources than others. Until the teams are limited to the same resources, why not introduce something that has the effect of closer performance on race days?

          2. @keithcollantine While I agree with the ‘level playing field’ premise in general, I would also point out, that there are teams, which are struggling for money despite finishing top5, and teams which are financially backed by the automotive side of their buissness (i.e. Mercedes, Renault).

      2. @bulion They sort of had that in 2003 as teams that agreed to limit the number of test days they did during the season got to run in a 2 hour test on Friday morning before FP1 where they could run with 3 cars & run the 3rd with a different livery if they wanted to put a local driver in it with local sponsors.

        Minardi, Jordan, Sauber & Renault were the only teams that took up the option & while there was some who felt the extra 2 hours were part of why Renault were so competitive that year the overall feeling was that it hadn’t really made any significant difference.

        Additionally I recall fans complaining that they weren’t getting to see the top teams/drivers much on Friday’s & drivers not doing the test also hated that they were spending Friday’s sitting around not doing much (The 2 hour test, One hour FP1 & then single car/lap qualifying).

    11. Yes, I’ve stated the same before, but I couldn’t agree more with Toto. Why try to fix something that isn’t even broken in the first place?

    12. Why not do what they used to do “back in the day” and implement a limit on the number of laps they are allowed to run? This is surely the most obvious solution to reducing the amount of practice time without changing the timings of the sessions themselves. I would have a limit of 60 laps for the whole of free practice and 20 laps for the whole of qualifying per car, including any pit-out and pit-in laps.

      1. They should probably have even fewer laps for qualifying actually, 15 laps per car perhaps.

      2. so basically give fans even less opportunity to see cars, makes perfect sense.

        i remember when they limited laps last time you would often just be sitting in the stands watching an empty track for long periods of time which frankly was boring and not what they should be going back to if they want to encourage fans to attend race weekends to see f1 drivers in f1 cars on track.

        just leave things as they are and stop been so obsessed with show. its supposed to be a sport yet modern fans don’t seem to want to treat it as such sadly. lets just limit everything, who cares if fans start getting less value and less time to actually watch the cars as who wants to do that.
        as long as we get 1000 meaningless passes a race and 20 different winners who cares about the sporting integrity right?

        1. Your entire comment is a massive contradiction because if all you want is to see the cars on the track all of the time then it is you who is obsessed with the show. Limiting the number of practice laps like I’m suggesting has everything to do with the sport and it’s integrity in exactly the same way that the number of tyres and amount of race fuel are limited, it’s to try to prevent some drivers and teams gaining more of an advantage over others before the competition starts properly.

          And anyway, what exactly is the problem with allowing a maximum of 60 laps per car for a total of 4 hours of practice? That’s a lap for every four minutes on average, even that is arguably too many, you wouldn’t really notice the difference compared to now.

          1. if all you want is to see the cars on the track all of the time then it is you who is obsessed with the show.

            No, It’s called wanting to see what I paid hundreds of dollars to go & see.

            I remember what it was like when they had a limited number of laps in past & you would be sitting in the stands watching an empty track for long periods of time. That’s the primary reason they got rid of the lap limits because fans who had actually paid to visit the track were unhappy at the reduction in track action.

    13. Maybe giving them more choices so they have to work on set up rather than correlating with the simulator?

      Pirelli bring the tyres to races and the teams choose two compounds end of Friday not weeks before. Pirelli also don’t reveal compounds till Friday.

      Restrictions on what sensors are on the car so the drivers actually play some part in the set up. It’s now all done on computer/simulator and put on the car and see if the driver agrees with it. Rather than the driver go out and come back and feed back their feeling about over/understeer/chatter/balance/acceleration and all the other stuff.

      Listening to the On The Grid Podcast of past drivers makes me a feel a bit sad for current drivers – the engineers/computers decide everything.

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