Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Imola, 2020

Two-day race weekend “didn’t seem to bring anything to the show”

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Racing Point technical director Andrew Green isn’t convinced the two-day race weekend format trialled at Imola was a change for the better.

What they say

The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix featured just one practice session before qualifying, which Green said didn’t suit Racing Point’s way of working:

On a sample of one I’m not too keen on it. I think from our perspective, we do use the Friday session to our advantage. We use the running, the learning from the tyres is something that we spend a lot of time preparing for on the Friday, getting the data that’s required on a Friday in order to analyse it on the Friday night to be able to come out on Saturday with the best possible package.

So we did miss that and I think if we did more of those two-day weekends, we’d have to change the way we work. It’s not sympathetic with the way that we work at the moment and we weren’t going to change, we couldn’t change, for one race. But I think if it was going to go that way then we’d have to change.

Whether it’s [right for] Formula 1 or not, it felt very different, for sure. It’s difficult to say, really. I don’t want to be one of these people who just doesn’t like change but I didn’t feel as though it was a positive change. It didn’t seem to bring anything to the show, apart from just making everything shorter. And I’m not sure that when we get back to the post-Covid grands prix, whether that’s going to work with two-day weekends with accessing the fans and putting on a show.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Mercedes deserve praise for their years of sustained success, but it also shows how their rivals have fallen short, says @GeeMac:

Red Bull are, in my view, the best race team on the grid. They are excellent at thinking on their feet strategy-wise, they are imperious in the pits, they are incredible when their backs are against the wall (their 15 minute before a race on the grid car rebuilds are practically a work of art) and they have a real knack of getting the absolute maximum out of nearly every weekend.

Despite the public faces of the team not being everyone’s cup of tea (Horner and Marko in particular), the mechanics and engineers are all proper racers and it really does shine through when you see them on screen over a race weekend. And yet, despite having a good budget, a works engine partner, a crack race team, a genius designer in Adrian Newey and one of the fastest drivers on the grid in Max Verstappen, they haven’t mounted a serious title challenge. I think this is criminal.

Ferrari are Ferrari, they are always hit and miss. But Red Bull have become so good over the last decade that it really is beyond me as to why they haven’t been able to mount a proper challenge, particularly with Honda engines. I put most of the blame for Mercedes dominance at their door because if anyone is going to beat Mercedes, logic dictates that it should be Red Bull. They have all the ingredients. They just need to execute.

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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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27 comments on “Two-day race weekend “didn’t seem to bring anything to the show””

  1. In regard to the COTD I would think the results since 2018 would say differently. Besides the obvious driver trouble since they let Ricciardo walk. They made a miscalculation switching to Honda leaving them in a awkward situation to say the least. They have not really gained on the Mercs despite the unnecessary rule changes, while the gap to McLaren and Renault has closed. performing great pit stops is only one aspect of a teams performance. The overall management of the team is imo not as good as some others, particularly in the people management area.
    If any team deserves the title of best team it would logicically go to Mercedes 7 WDCs, 7 WMCs with one more of each next year very likely. These things are not achievable without excellent engineering a strong and positive team spirit and harmony across the entire work force. A no blame culture with the freedom for any team member to speak up about problems or their ideas for a solution with the knowledge it they will be taken seriously. That attitude must come from the top.
    Other teams that are doing well in those areas imo are McLaren and Renault as the improvements and results show.

    1. How was the switch to honda a bad move? I thought it would be a disaster but it seems on track they are where they were with renault. Not better or worse. But in the financials red bull is benefiting from the honda partnership. That is a strong net positive no matter how you look at it.

      And when it comes to mercedes there is strong team spirit and harmony… and bigger pile of cash to spend on shiny things…

      1. Honda and Red Bull have done surprisingly well considering how far back Honda was when “they left McLaren”.
        The current (normal) race distance deficit between Mercedes and anyone else but Max, looks like a second a lap or more. If Red Bull had another driver capable of cutting the gap to Max to even half a second a lap, then the assessment of Honda’s progress would be very different. Yes they are short of Mercedes, but so are all the others, by a greater margin.
        Where would they be with a second A List (or almost A List) driver to really back-up Max.? My bet is a consistent 3rd and 4th or better.
        If the best power unit could really buy performance, then Williams would not be dead last.

      2. @socksolid

        but it seems on track they are where they were with renault. Not better or worse.

        Excactly they are in the end no better off on track and now looking for a new PU supplier. That’s left them in a bit of an embarrassing situation, that would be a miscalculation, not a bad move.

        1. @johnrkh How is it even a miscalculation? Nobody really even expected honda to match renault. Honda looked really really bad when they were with mclaren. Red bull knew all this. But from their point of view red bull knew they were not going to win races with honda unless special things happened. But red bull also knew the finances would be better with honda. Not to mention having factory support for both of their teams instead of being just a customer to renault. Red bull did not switch to honda hoping to win championships at least any time soon. They switched because overall it was a better deal. And it has been. They are not championship contender team but they did not even expect to.

          So to say red bull switch to honda is an error or even a miscalculation is simply a false statement. When red bull made the switch they only had two options. Honda and renault. Honda offers a risk but also a small chance of improvement. Renault offers the same performance they had up to that point, no improvement. Honda is much better deal financially. It was never about making a move that guarantees red bull wins and championships in the future. It was all about picking the less worse option at the time. Honda having improved is already a risk that has materialized into something positive for red bull. As such red bull made the right choice.

    2. @johnrkh
      “They have not really gained on the Mercs despite the unnecessary rule changes”
      You mean like:
      The banning of the blown diffuser?
      The introduction of a token system, giving Mercedes a three year head start?
      The switch to hybrid engines?
      The rules for bigger and heavier cars clearly benefitting teams with a proper engine?
      The switch to thin thread tires?
      The changes to the front wing?

      It’s a miracle Red Bull is still doing so good, despite the unnecessary rule changes thrown at them to accomodate Mercedes.

      “These things are not achievable without excellent engineering a strong and positive team spirit and harmony across the entire work force.”

      Like what you have in a team that wins 4 titles in a row, gets screwed big time by the car manufacturers, yet still manages wins and podiums despite being severly hamstrung by the current rules?

      “Other teams that are doing well in those areas imo are McLaren and Renault as the improvements and results show.”

      Yeah sure, and the moment Ferrari gets their act together Renault and McLaren can fight with RP, AT, AR for the remaining few points. (You do know that both these teams are atleast a second per lap slower than RBR in race trim, don’t you?)

    3. They let Sainz and Ricciardo go and built a car around Max, all for the marketing clout of making the youngest world champion.

      Take away – they have been finishing 2nd and 3rd for years chasing a marketing exercise, so they don’t deserve a championship. They are the definition of image over all else.

      1. “They let Sainz and Ricciardo go”
        Correction: They let Sainz go, but Daniel choose to run, despite being offered extensions since early 2017. Extensions he kept declining citing interest from Ferrari and Mercedes, yet when it became clear those team had assessed the 2017 season and concluded Daniel is no match for Max, his options were limited, so he choose to run.

        “they have been finishing 2nd and 3rd for years chasing a marketing exercise”
        Yep, and McLaren finished ever lower, chasing a marketing exercise.
        As did Renault.
        As did Haas, Alfa, Ferrari……..
        Lol, F1 is a marketing exercise!

      2. @rb13
        Oh, and talking about marketing:
        Daimler reported one of the worst financial years in 2019.
        As did Renault.
        McLaren is almost bankrupt.
        Haas and Williams to.
        And Red Bull…..
        “Red Bull sales rose so much last year that the Austrian energy drink maker could have supplied almost every person on earth with a can of its namesake beverage. Sales soared to a record 7.5 billion cans worldwide last year, propelled by growth in emerging markets like Brazil, India and Africa, said the company, which has crafted its brand around extreme sports sponsorships. The world’s population reached 7.7 billion people.”

        So, whatever they are doing in F1, they are doing it a lot better than most of the other teams, hahahahaha!
        (oh wait, you actually think this is about winning, right?)

    4. @johnrkh
      “These things are not achievable without excellent engineering a strong and positive team spirit and harmony across the entire work force. A no blame culture with the freedom for any team member to speak up about problems or their ideas for a solution with the knowledge it they will be taken seriously. That attitude must come from the top.”
      Hmm, so according to you, the ranking is based on these matters, right, making Red Bull the team with the second best engineering a strong and positive team spirit and harmony across the entire work force, right?

      And unnecessary rule changes, like:
      The ban on blown diffusers?
      The introduction of hybrid engines?
      The introduction of heavier cars, relying more on engine power?
      The use of thinner thread tires?
      The front wing change?

      Please, enlighten me, and tell me which of these rule changes should have benefitted Red Bull?

      1. @Oconomo It’s a shame that you refuse to support the site that lets you comment so often and so inaccurately.

  2. I don’t think red bull has all the ingredients to beat mercedes. The honda engine is clearly inferior and is holding red bull back and that is totally out of red bull’s hands. It is a problem red bull can not solve. Mercedes has an engine and chassis advantage over everybody else so even putting a mercedes engine in that red bull won’t make max an instant winner. Which also means merc has the best engineering team.

    Not to mention merc has the advantage of being the designer and builder of both the engine and the car AND running the team. They have synergies that red bull can only dream of. Red bull is a chassis builder who gets their engines from honda, and as shown, are at the whims of said engine manufacturer. And last but not least merc has the bigger budget. Having 80% what your competitor has is not “all ingredients to win”.

    1. I agree with all of this. I also think COTD greatly under-appreciates just how big Mercedes’ technologic advantage is. And I know people take offence to pointing this out as they feel it somehow is undermining how good Lewis is. That’s not it. Lewis and the Mercedes crew can be the best on the grid, while simultaneously having such a big technological advantage it’s impossible for others to close the gap. These two statements are not mutually exclusive. All the development restrictions play into their hands and it has allowed them to stay a step ahead of the field for the entire hybrid era. Ferrari took to “cheating” to try and close the gap and was still not able to get ahead, and Red Bull in turn has had to deal with two engine suppliers that were a clear step behind.

      Yes, you’d expect Red Bull and Ferrari both to be able to mount a challenge to Merc in a way that doesn’t end up with Lewis and the team wrapping up their championship wins well ahead of the final race, but that’s not the situation we’re in and it’s much to do not with the failing of the other teams on the grid, but rather the advantage Mercedes has in this era and has had from the start.

      It’s like having a space race, except one country is launching rockets from the moon and the others have to launch from Earth. Let’s hope 2022 is a fresh start and a great equalizer, but until then, advantage Mercedes it is.

      1. I disagreed with @geemac in a response to the original remark, and basically also said no, Red Bull do not have all the ingredients nor is it just a matter of them executing.

        I just wanted to add, as the ‘criminal’ comment still sticks in my craw, that it is all well and good to just slough off Ferrari as just being Ferrari, to support an argument that it is RBR that are dropping the ball. However, if anything is ‘criminal’ it is that the only other mega factory team besides Mercedes, who have veto power and the extra 10’s of millions just because, and who have had to have a secret trick taken away from them, are not able to touch Mercedes either, and indeed have only gone backwards. Why should they get a pass yet Mercedes dominance is RB’s fault?

        1. @robbie My focus on Red Bull wasn’t intended to be a sleight on them only, my original comment was that all 9 other teams are to blame, but that Red Bull are the one that logic dictates should probably be best placed to challenge. Not having to put up with Ferrari-esque political shenanigans in the factory and boardroom is a major plus point in this regard.

    2. @socksolid The idea that Honda has such a poor engine is solely fueled by the propaganda from Horner et al. I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons why Honda is done with them and pulled out.

      Honda is by their own claims (and estimates from others) quite close on engine output.

      The problem as has been pointed out by many F1 pundits (and F1 team owners) is the high rake design Red Bull insists on. It helps them get maximum downforce, but the downside is more drag. So they are faster in the corners yet slower on the straights. That’s a choice they made. They would need massively more power from Honda to overcome that. Its not fair to blame Honda for this.

      Then to make matters worse, Verstappen likes to drive with extra downforce. Better for the tyres, good for overtaking and good for complaining that you can’t be blamed for not winning since “the lack of speed on the straight and time lost is clearly just a power deficit on the the engine”.

      Thing is, Gasly, Kvyat and Albon have top speeds that generally are faster or close to what Bottas is showing. Hamilton tends to drive with more downforce too (better for the race) and is therefore usually not fastest in the speed traps.

      1. I don’t think honda is quite close to mercedes overall. Merc has more power, better harvesting, had better qualifying parties, uses less fuel, adventages in smaller package and who knows about other advantages in cooling (need smaller intakes which means less drag) and so forth. Surprisingly honda has managed to improve their durability of the engine for this season and don’t seem to consume much more parts than other teams:

        Here is an analysis from gary anderson about the engines:
        All that being said it is very hard to find any analysis that puts honda even ahead of renault. Not to mention close to mercedes..?

  3. The 2 day race weekend format just provides advantages to more experienced drivers and teams with advanced simulation software. It will spice up the preparation issues for a few races before all teams normalise and we’re then left with 3 hours, less time of cars on the track each weekend.

    1. There isn’t a single way to structure a race weekend that doesn’t give the most benefit to the most well resourced teams.
      Every time I read this “but it will help the most experienced drivers/top teams most” I can’t help but think: “well, how exactly do you propose to help the lower/lesser teams and drivers?”
      And then I realise that that’s not what most people want in F1 anyway – they want the top ones to lead and be the best – using the old term ‘on merit’.
      As such, any proposals that do work to the advantage of the smaller/lesser teams/drivers is met with strong resistance and usually rejected.

      Less practice time is just one of a multitude of factors that make up F1. And like everything else, it can be changed – and should be when it is not working. With all the data, telemetry and simulation tools the teams have now, practice time is not needed anywhere near as much as it was in the past for teams. For drivers – equally, with simulation tools and experience moving into F1 through junior series, plus the additional number of races they do each year now – they don’t need the practice time so much either.

      Whenever a new race is proposed, the term ‘quality over quantity’ is trotted out repeatedly. Same applies to practice, I reckon. They don’t need so many.
      4 hours x 16 events = 64 hours of practice. 4 hours x 22 events = 88 hours. They’ve made up for a lot of the testing restrictions by having more events, even without considering all the additional 24/7 virtual testing they can do now.

      1. S, however, in the race weekends where we effectively had a two day weekend – by intention in Imola and by accident at the Nurburgring – the gap between the top two teams and the rest of the field seemed to have grown rather than shrunk.

        Therefore, whilst you state that “As such, any proposals that do work to the advantage of the smaller/lesser teams/drivers is met with strong resistance and usually rejected.” – is there any evidence that this measure did actually give those smaller teams any advantage? The limited information we have seems to have provided very little evidence for that so far (and it is notable that arguments such as that tend to be more of a secondary argument to the idea of cramming in more races to increase revenues for Liberty Media).

        1. stop moaning you old woman FO

        2. Perhaps my phrasing was off….
          I thought that I made it quite clear that removing practice sessions (deliberately or otherwise) would not help the smaller teams/less experienced drivers. Nothing F1 implements that affects all teams/drivers equally will assist those teams/drivers more than the big teams for the reasons I mentioned. More data, more analysis, more understanding of their equipment, more simulation tools and more ability to extract performance will always provide advantage to the bigger teams – simply because they have advantage built in to their operation and workflow. Less practice or more practice is irrelevant – whatever the conditions those teams have more tools and resources to make the best of it.
          Just to be perfectly clear: I did not and do not classify reducing practice time as a satisfactory means to improving competition. It can potentially be used as one of a vast number of changes to achieve that goal, but it cannot do it alone.

          My reference to ‘proposals that benefit smaller teams being rejected’ did not include reducing practice time. It was only an example of why this change would not create tighter competition as some have mentioned.
          Think more along the lines of success ballast or reverse grid qualifying races… How’s their introduction into F1 going?
          How many years of single-team domination over the last 2 decades has it taken to implement measures to get some control of spending and narrow the gap between the relative ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots?’

          I maintain my long-standing belief that F1 doesn’t really want a proper competition – and if it does, then it really has no idea how to go about making it become a reality.

    2. You really think f1 is diminished because a practice session goes? Staggered, we used to get by with no qually even broadcast, let alone practice.

      Ask an engineer and he will give you an engineers answer . They would want to be there all week with the car trundling round and them making excruciating minor changes to rule out any possible chance of chance.

      Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary this is still a sport, not an engineering exercise. And despite the gung ho talk of it being cutting edge, everyone seems very conservative about change..

      Duff and depressing comment by Green.

      1. Let’s just keep in mind that Andrew Green is part of the team that stuffed up their strategy and lost a podium finish due to their apparent lack of knowledge of tyre wear with one car, and their other driver needs double the practice time at every circuit anyway….

        Is it any wonder that he didn’t like the 2-day event?

  4. Lets put up a massive party, plan it for a year and then have it last 15 minutes. They want fireworks out of f1, I don’t think this is what they meant.

  5. Long term I don’t think moving to a 2 day format with less practice would really have any significant impact on anything apart from there been less track action for the fans.

    The only reason that losing a day of running due to weather sometimes creates a bit of unpredictability is because go into those weekends with a run plan expecting the usual amount of running & so unexpectedly losing a chunk of it catches them out. If they go into a weekend knowing it’s only 2 days with a single 90 minute practice session before qualifying they will simply plan around that.

    Just like with the High degredation tyres or any of the other changes over the years, We may see a brief period where teams are still trying to figure it out but they will quickly do that & the normal running order will be resumed. And as I say the only real difference will be fans getting to see the cars less over a weekend which i’m not sure is a positive.

  6. I like having practice on when I’m working. Definitely improves Fridays

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