Formula 1 edging closer to restructured Friday timetable

Formula 1 is edging towards a restructured format for Fridays at grands prix as part of a compromise for including more events on the calendar.

The format of a grand prix weekend has been under the spotlight in recent years, with senior figures evaluating whether or not to make alterations to the schedule.

Currently Formula 1 weekends take place over four days – five in the case of Monaco – with media day on Thursday, practice on Friday, final practice and qualifying on Saturday, and the race on Sunday.

The recent Japanese Grand Prix, in which on-track action was condensed into Friday and Sunday due to Typhoon Hagibis, reignited the debate over weekend formats.

Some drivers voiced their support of shorter weekends, though the absence of support categories – Formula 2 and Formula 3 did not travel to Japan – facilitated the forced revised timetable.

It was revealed earlier this month that Formula 1 had decided on keeping a three-day on-track approach, which is favoured by promoters, who fear a drop in revenue if Friday’s sessions were altogether scrapped.

Proposals for a qualifying race, in place of qualifying, at three 2020 grands prix were put aside after it did not receive the required unanimous support, but a renewed push could be made for 2021.

Formula 1’s calendar has gradually expanded across the last decade and that has raised concerns over the well-being of those who work within the paddock.

One idea being pursued is to move Thursday’s media activities to Friday morning, with on-track running then taking place on Friday afternoon, reducing the amount of practice time.

It is also hoped that a reduction in practice would lead to more surprise results due to teams being unable to gather as much data.

Formula 1 will next year feature 22 grands prix courtesy of the addition of Vietnam and the return of the Netherlands.

It is understood that there could be as many as 24 events on the 2021 calendar, with Liberty Media having recently reached an agreement in principle to hold a round in Miami, while it continues to explore options elsewhere.