Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Monza, 2021

Friday qualifying needs earlier start after “nearly dark” Monza session – Ricciardo

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 shouldn’t hold qualifying as late in the day as it did at Monza last week, says Daniel Ricciardo, who was concerned by fading light towards the end of the session.

During the sprint format weekend, qualifying was held at 6pm on Friday evening. The one-hour session therefore ended three-quarters of an hour before sunset.

Light levels were already beginning to fade by this point, a situation which would have been worsened had the session been delayed due to red flags. The Italian Grand Prix winner believes F1 should avoid starting so late in future.

“The qualifying [Friday] evening, I would just bring that earlier,” said Ricciardo. “I think it was nearly dark when we finished. So if it was raining or red flags, then we’re probably in a bit of a mess.”

However Formula 1 race director Michael Masi said he “wasn’t too concerned about the light here at all.”

“We obviously look at it from the point of view of when the sunset times and so forth are,” he said. “So, no, I had zero stress about the light here on Friday night.”

F1 will consider minor revisions to the arrangements for sprint qualifying weekends before the format is used again at Interlagos, said Masi.

“Firstly we’ll have a chat with everyone involved during the week and then see if there’s any improvements we can make for the third edition and any changes be it from an operational perspective, whatever it might be, and see what we can learn out of the first two collectively now that we’ve done two. It’s a bigger sample size rather than just the one-off.”

Read RaceFans’ exclusive, in-depth interview with Michael Masi published earlier this week

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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19 comments on “Friday qualifying needs earlier start after “nearly dark” Monza session – Ricciardo”

  1. They could decide to qualify in the afternoon and only release the footage in the evening :-)

  2. Just have the practice sessions on Friday say two hour and a half hour sessions then going into Saturday it’s Qualifying, Sprint, Race. OR instead of Sprint setting the grid let people use the final practice session to set the fastest time for a sprint grid let them race for minor points, then go into Qualifying and so on.

    1. @ryandixon This is the most logical solution, but I believe the point of this exercise is to have one “major” event on each day. Friday attendances wouldn’t really be up if they only have FP sessions then, which is ultimately what they are trying to achieve. For most casuals and race attendees, F1 is a two-day event, not a three-day event. That’s what they are trying to change. For me personally, I would prefer qualifying and sprint race to be on Saturday. I would determine the grid on Sunday through the qualifying session, and leave the sprint race as a standalone event with points for the top 8 (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system)

  3. I agree hence why I tried in my idea to make FP2 a bit competitive setting the sprint grid during that. Give teams a big window to go out set fastest laps which could come at the detriment to race pace. The two day event is the way forward I personally believe but at least in this situation it spreads it out to three days and makes each day competitive.

    As for the sprint points etc I 100% agree. I’d even go as far to try and spice it up more by making it shorter in distance (as mentioned by Russell I believe), allowing more fuel flow or energy usage potentially or even a mandatory stop but not to change compounds e.g go from soft to softs. Make it a proper sprint all out as fast as they can rather than a smaller race as it’s become.

  4. Hay Dan, the honey badger is predominantly nocturnal….maybe a few more twighlight qualifying sessions like monza would do you good

  5. I agree, it was pretty dark, i was really surprised.
    Even it there were some beautifull images, but it was really dark.
    Not a good. Stuff for drivers.
    Don’t sacrifice safety on the show.

    1. They were doing that by not punishing drivers for driving at a snails pace on 200mph sections of track

  6. Why is the qualifying held so late in the day? The article does not really explain. Surely they have time in the day to hold it a bit earlier e.g 16.00 or 17.00?

    1. @phil-f1-21 Because after they announced the sprint format with Friday qualifying it was pointed out to them that most people are at work or school on Friday’s & wouldn’t be able to watch qualifying live, So they pushed the time back towards the evening in order to allow as many people at possible to watch it live.

      And when they did that one of the things that was pointed out was that holding it later not only means it will be darker in some places (Especially if the weather is bad) but that it gives less time to get a session in if there are any delays. They just decided to ignore those concerns.

      1. Most people (Earths population) would like it ealier so we dont have to stay up late at night. Most of the population is in Asia. Late races mean really late night for us…

        Reply moderated
      2. @stefmeister. If this happened on a day with cloudy or wet weather it would be even more risky. Common sense just seems to go missing from some of these decisions. It’s all about keeping the big payers happy I think e.g. TV.

  7. Ah so the conditions were too dark as well as a bunch of clowns driving at 50mph on 200mph sections of track.

    Qualifying at Monza has MUCH bigger issues than light

  8. Meanwhile, in the netflix documentary, we see shumacher test the ferrari on a completely dark fiorano.

    1. @cdfemke Testing into the darkness wasn’t that uncommon back then in private test’s as been the only car on track as long as you could see the brake boards & corner apex’s (Which teams also often used to light in some way) you could just about get away with it. Although the FIA discouraged teams from doing it because not having good visibility can make spotting anything that has found its way onto the circuit (Debris & such) difficult.

      Driving into darkness on an unlit track with 19 other cars is also a very different thing & you again have the difficulty of spotting track conditions which was a concern that was raised in the aftermath of Jules Bianchi accident in Suzuka. The thought from some been that the low light hindered drivers ability to judge how much standing water was on the track. At the time the FIA & Bernie agreed to take low light into consideration with red flags & try to schedules races earlier, Liberty & Michael Masi undid some of that.

  9. Natural light wasn’t an issue in Silverstone, but Monza, yes, because of an earlier sunset time.

  10. Friday qualifying needs Saturday qualifying.

  11. Low sun has ruined many weekends. I’ve had many users argue that this is not the case, it never happened, yoi are making this stuff up, when you only have to look at the footage, irrefutable. It goes to show the lengths some people go in order to impose their will.

  12. We don’t need Friday qualifications at all.

  13. Maybe, and just bear with me here, the session should be held on Saturday?

    Even better, scrap the format. I was originally excited for it, thought more action would be great. But, I hate it.

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