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Opinion: Formula 1 should scrap practice sessions
Following last weekend's thriller in Austin, is it time teams had less data?
The American Grand Prix. Exciting, wasn’t it? It’s been a very long time since I’ve sat watching a Grand Prix and been totally fixed from start to finish. Indeed, when was the last time we had three drivers at the front all in contention to win the race, right up to the last lap? (Admittedly, having the chance to see if Lewis can claim his 5th title added to the drama.)
The track too, has a certain flow that seems to aid overtaking and out of all the current new circuits it appears to have done the best in terms of driver enjoyment, as well as being spectacular to watch. Perhaps it’s the Silverstone inspired Maggots and Becketts section…
More importantly, it was the weather - and the impact that had on testing - that created havoc. Over the course of the practice sessions there was very limited dry tyre running, making it a headache for the strategist to work out what to do in a dry race. Add in a few faster drivers out of position and you’ve got yourself a cracker.
Now I might not be a rocket scientist, or in fact an F1 rule maker. But does F1 need practice sessions? There’s an argument to be made that teams are perhaps gathering too much information for the race, leading to a scientific approach to racing. Would the racing be significantly improved if perhaps we had one 30min session on the Saturday, and then went straight in to qualifying? Or should practice be scrapped altogether? Basically, we think it should.
The faster drivers would still be at the front, we’d probably have more mistakes, and the races would be harder to predict as the teams wouldn’t know really where they are in terms of tyres. Even more radically, what if we just had a single hour of qualifying, then a 30min sprint race which then leads to your starting position in the Sunday feature race? No practice allowed. Admittedly the younger and newer drivers would suffer, so perhaps a young drivers’ session for those with less than two years experience in F1 would help.
Either way, if Sunday’s thrilling race proved anything, it was that F1 needs to change to make it happen more often. What do you think?