Their hearts are in the right place, but is it a good idea?
George Russell and Lando Norris have both come out in support of reducing the number of practice sessions Formula 1 drivers get during a race weekend. The current system provides three practice sessions on Friday, qualifying on Saturday, and the main event on a Sunday.
While most people tune in to see their favorite F1 drivers, the racing, and the stunning Aston Martin Vantage safety car, much more is happening in the background. For the most part, the F2 and F3 series follow the F1 circus, and that's at the core of this matter.
In an interview with Motorsport.com, Russell said that F2 and F3 drivers deserve more time on the track, which isn't currently possible because of the three F1 practice sessions.
Russell was asked whether three practice sessions were necessary and said no. "I don't think it's right that Formula 1 has three times the amount of practice that you have in the F3 and F2 categories," said Russell. "They should be the ones to get more practice; also, because they're doing less (sic) races, they don't get to test that often."
Norris also came out in support of cutting down on F1 practice sessions, but from a financial perspective. "For my time in F2, when you see the cost of how much it is to do this series versus the amount (sic) of laps you get, it's shocking… it's really stupid. To give them more track time… it's definitely a good thing for junior drivers to get that from Formula 1."
Neither driver wants to remove practice sessions entirely. "Obviously, the more practice you do, the more up to speed you'll be, the more comfortable you'll be with the car," said Russell. Norris appears to be in favor of one practice session. "FP1 into qualifying, that nature of it, I do love. It puts me under pressure, puts the engineers under a bit more pressure, and we get straight into the action," said Norris.
The reigning champion is also quite vocal about his stance: to leave well enough alone. "I'm not a fan of how many races we do nowadays, and I'm not a fan of changing the whole format either," said Max Verstappen. "When you do so many races as we do nowadays, maybe you can cut out one practice session, but other than that, I don't think you need to change many things."
Meanwhile, F1 wants to cancel all practice sessions. F1's CEO, Stefano Domenicali, has openly stated that he wants to ax practice sessions because the public doesn't like them but admitted that they benefit the engineers. The three hours on the track allow a team to gather data, which can then be used to set the car up correctly and develop a race-winning strategy.
From our side, we understand all the arguments for it. Giving F2 and F3 drivers more time on track to hone their skills and show off their sponsors makes perfect sense, and it's not the biggest problem currently facing the sport.
With Verstappen being such a dominant force, there's a good chance viewers might tune out because it's boring. Even the world champion agrees, and he has the most to lose. "The only thing you have to look at is making the field closer, so the gaps between all teams, which leads to more exciting racing in general," said Verstappen.
Formula 1 is in a strange place, which will likely be the case until the new power unit regulations take effect in 2026. By then, multiple new teams will join the sport, and there's a good chance an all-American squad will line up on the grid.
For now, all F1 seems able to do is add more races and double the number of sprint qualifying races on Saturday. Many F1 drivers are pretty vocal about their dislike of sprint races, primarily due to the damage they can cause. Teams may only use three of every major power unit component, and extra racing puts extra strain on the cars.
This year the teams will partake in more races and sprint races than ever, yet the limitations on the maximum number of parts allowed remain the same.
Should F1 drop practice and give that time to F2 and F3 drivers? Or would less development time and data detract from the pinnacle of motorsport?
Join The Discussion