Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has brought the role of free practice sessions into the spotlight. Speaking in a recent interview, he stated that he is in favour of cancelling the three one-hour sessions. He claimed that these sessions “are of great use to the engineers but that the public doesn’t like.” The argument in favour of reducing the amount of practice time claims that it will increase the chances of entertaining mistakes while also reducing the amount of data that engineers and drivers can gather.
George Russell, a Mercedes driver, has said that experienced F1 drivers do not need the extra laps. Instead, he thinks that the F2 and F3 support categories should get the extra track time. Russell stated that he doesn’t believe that three practice sessions are necessary, and that “No is the answer.” He thinks it’s not right that Formula 1 has three times the amount of practice than the F3 and F2 categories. Russell added that sprint races, which move qualifying to Friday and replace FP2, are providing vital action and entertainment.
Lando Norris, a McLaren driver, has also spoken up in support of handing more time to F2 and F3. Notably, Norris liked the idea of reduced running adding to the pressure F1 drivers face. He pointed out that “For my time in [F2, 2018], when you see the cost of how much it is to do this series versus the amount of laps you get, it’s shocking… it’s really stupid.” Norris believes that giving more track time to the support categories is a good thing for young drivers to get from Formula 1.
However, defending champion Max Verstappen believes that F1 should largely leave the current format alone, and instead address other areas to boost the spectacle. Verstappen said, “I’m not a fan of how many races we do nowadays, and I’m not a fan of changing the whole format [without practice sessions] either.” He cautions that F1 does need to be careful not to change the whole DNA of the sport, and thinks that making the field closer is the key to more exciting racing.