Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2020

Single 90-minute practice session confirmed for F1’s return to Imola

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Formula 1 has confirmed the compact, two-day race weekend structure for the 13th round of the championship at Imola.

As RaceFans revealed last week, instead of three practice sessions totalling four hours of running drivers will have just a single, 90-minute practice session on Saturday to prepare for qualifying and the race.

Practice will take place at 10am local time on Saturday, following by qualifying at 2pm the same day. The race will start at 1:10pm on Sunday.

The other races confirmed so far on the 2020 F1 calendar will all run to the usual, three-day event format.

Formula 1 has confirmed 13 races on its reorganised schedule so far. In a statement the championship said it expects to confirm the final races “in the coming weeks”.

The final calendar is expected to include as many as 18 races, and will conclude with events in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in mid-December. Imola is one of four venues not part of the original schedule which have been added to the roster of races, along with Mugello, Autodromo do Algarve and the Nurburgring.

The Sepang International Circuit, which held the Malaysian Grand Prix between 1999 and 2017, is understood to have decided against seeking a return to the calendar.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Single 90-minute practice session confirmed for F1’s return to Imola”

  1. Let’s hope Mercedes screws up their set-up

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      4th August 2020, 16:10

      @paeschli They are usually the fastest out of the box.

      But no, lets hope all teams get a good chance to setup their cars properly and we have a fair race instead of a lottery.

      1. It would be unfair if they make a mistake? It’s part of racing, the part that became too important though.

        1. Not unfair. Unlikely.

          Of all the teams, Ferrari and possibly Haas or Renault are the most likely to mess up the set up.

    2. Considering they don’t make half the setup errors their rivals make across 3 sessions every week, you’re dreaming. If anything they will be further ahead after Albon / Vettel halve the other two teams data.

  2. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
    4th August 2020, 11:42

    If Sepang has said no, it’s difficult to see how Vietnam now makes it either, there’s not much left to pair it with. China have blanket banned international sports, India seem to be suffering their own COVID spike, Singapore have all the issues around being a temporary facility.

    Would seem their best chance is that Suzuka maybe reconsiders its cancellation in light of a bargain deal. Unless the South Korean track at Mokpo is still operational? I was under the impression this is not the case though.

    1. @hammerheadgb Mokpo or the Yeongam circuit is out of the question at this short notice, and so is the former Indian GP venue irrespective of the COVID-situation, which isn’t great in India. Istanbul Park, I don’t see viable at this short notice either (unfavorable climatic conditions or not). I can’t see Suzuka going back with its cancellation decision as it was, after all, about the country’s travel-restrictions, so out of their and F1’s hands. Sepang opting against making a one-off return effectively ends Hanoi’s chances of getting rescheduled as I doubt F1 and the teams would travel that far from Europe for a single race at that time of year anymore.
      I can see the ending for this season as something like this:
      Bahrain I November 15
      Bahrain II (outer loop) November 22
      Abu Dhabi November 29
      Jerez (alternatively Valencia, or even Aragon) November 15
      Bahrain I November 29
      Bahrain II December 6
      Abu Dhabi December 13

  3. I don’t understand this decision.
    Why would they trial this new format in a track they’ve never raced around before?
    In such short notice too.

    1. @carbon_fibre Wrong, F1 has raced in Imola before, and many times, so far from being a ‘new’ circuit for the series. Yes, they could instead try it on a circuit that is more familiar to all or most of the current drivers, but Imola is a better option for this purpose than Portimao or Mugello in comparison.

      1. Yes I know, Imola has been on the calendar in the past. No need to call me wrong.
        Current drivers (bar Raikkonen) haven’t raced there in F1 cars.

        1. I think the condensed schedule is due to the tight turnaround with Portugal.

        2. Didn’t Raikkonen’s steering wheel come off in his hands just after Tosa or something?

  4. I dont think 90 mins is really enough. Perhaps they should have had two 1 hour practice sessions on Saturday followed by qualifying on Sunday morning and then the race in afternoon. That way, teams can plan their runs better and also experiment with set-up changes to extract the best from the car.

    1. @webtel Qualifying and the race on the same day isn’t really favored by the teams, especially in the event of a crash in the session, so better to have them on separate days and less practice running, than more practice running and QLF on the same day as the race.

      1. @jerejj
        I agree. If there is a crash, unexpected complications may arise. But when you have already compromised duration of the race weekend, i am sure a tweak can be worked out. We all know that its not new to have quali on sunday, atleast in exceptional cases like typhoons, etc.

  5. It seems a bold move to only have one practice session at Imola when we remember the reason why they stopped racing there.

    1. @emu55 Yes, a circuit that has been in F1 recently would be a better option for this experiment, but Imola is at least a better option for this purpose than, for example, Portimao or Mugello in comparison.

    2. So why did they stop racing? Money? Lack of pit facilities? Not sure how those connect with the length or number of practice sessions.

      1. Money I guess, though it’s not had an F1 car round it in years, just feels dangerous.

  6. As I predicted, although I expected QLF and the race to have the same starting times as the other European events. I suppose it’s because of the sunset times being 17:03 and 17:02 for the respective days, although why not 09:00-10:30 for FP and 13:00 for QLF instead to give an even larger window for daylight until the sunset time?

  7. I’m ok with the short weekend format, but wouldn’t make more sense on one of the two double headers at the same track? Also, I feel something needs to be changed or added to make it more fair in case someone has a problem or incident, maybe the pit-lane could be opened ten minutes before Q1 to allow installation laps.

    1. Not really, because you’re not going to learn that much by doing it, for example, this coming Saturday. Perhaps Monza or something would have been a better option though.

  8. The reason they’re doing this is noise restrictions. They’re only allowed two day’s running at the track. It’s not something they’re just doing to see whether or not it’s fun.

    OTOH, potential for jeopardy is always interesting, and shorter weekends could well help in a densely packed calendar.

    1. Thank you, I was wondering why we were trying this now. It seemed strange that it’s just a one off.

    2. Thanks, I also had no idea why they were doing this so maybe worth adding to the article if this is confirmed as the reason @keithcollantine

    3. They could still do FP1 and FP2 on Saturday and QLF and race on Sunday

      1. @paeschli The problem with having qualifying on Sunday morning is that if a driver suffers an accident or major technical issue during qualifying & the team aren’t able to repair the car then the driver won’t be able to start the race.

  9. I presume that this makes it an F1 only event? No F2 / F3?

  10. As a one off thing for a season with no fans able to attend under these special circumstances (Trying to cram in many races, Everyone staying on the road & such) it is fine, But I really, Really hope it isn’t something they try & push through permanently going forward because as a fan who attends races I love the Friday sessions.

    When I pay to go to an F1 race weekend i’m going to see F1 drivers in modern F1 cars & want to see as much of that as possible. I’ve never cared much for the extra distractions, Don’t even stick around for the support categories as I don’t especially enjoy spec racing.

    I love Friday practice because it’s the only time where you can really walk around the track & watch the cars from different locations. On Saturday/Sunday you tend to want to stick to one spot so you can see a screen & follow the lap times in qualifying or the racing during races. Friday practice is a far more laid back experience where times & stuff don’t really matter so it’s the best time to do the track walk.

    Losing F1 Friday practice running would for me just make traveling to an F1 race weekend far less value.

    1. Absolutely agree. I went to Spa from 1989 – 2007, well the years the Belgian GP was held anyway. Twice to Barcelona, twice to Magny-Cours, twice to Silverstone, once to A1-Ring.

      I have the same feeling as you Roger, regarding Fridays and being able to walk around the track because of the lower attendance – this was true of all tracks I visited. A good chance to get a clear [ish] view from many corners which might not be possible on Sunday or even on Saturday.

      My best memory of a GP weekend Friday is 1990 pre-qualifying, leaning over the track-side of the stairs on the [now-removed] pedestrian bridge at Kemmel Straight. Had an excellent view of the cars through Raidillon 😉

    2. Completely agree.

      Only thing I’d add is that if the support series were F2 and F3 at every race, my Friday viewing would be even better.

  11. petebaldwin (@)
    4th August 2020, 15:49

    I like it! It lot of pressure on everyone to get things right. If you bin it into the wall or have technical issues, you get no practice at all! I wouldn’t like this in the long term but as an interesting way of spicing up a dead-rubber season where there are no fans affected, why not?

  12. Can’t help but feel that shortening the run up to a single practice session will favour the big teams as they are far more likely to hit the ground running.

    Do the smaller budget teams even have a simulator for this track? I’d imagine the expense of getting one (or a proper F1 simulator) created would be prohibitive.

    I suppose someone might fluke an optimised setup but it’s more likely to be one of the better resourced teams.

  13. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    5th August 2020, 4:04

    Logic dictates that they should have tried the shortened format at one of the double headers before attempting to do so on a ‘brand new’ circuit. But this being F1…

  14. So are teams racing to get Imola on their simulators? Who gets the best quality track can develop the best setup from the sims? This can be interesting – if teams with best simulators get some advantage and some say they just didn’t have the track? (Do we know what sims teams run, many based on rFactor Pro?)

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