Why the FIA Shortened F1 Practice Sessions to 60 Minutes

Published 03/26/2021, 2:39 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 26, 2021 Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in action during practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


As the 2021 F1 season officially began on Friday in Bahrain with Free Practice Sessions 1 and 2, we witnessed a significant change. Instead of the traditional 90 minutes that the FIA previously offered to the teams, both sessions only lasted for 60 minutes.

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Although the duration of the third practice session on Saturday remained the same, why did the FIA make this change? Wy this one-hour reduction in total testing time? Don’t worry, we have you covered.

Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 14, 2021 Williams’ George Russell in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

1. Cost-cutting

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The primary reason is a wholesome cut in testing time from pre-season to the Friday sessions. It will help the teams, particularly the less-financially sound ones, to reduce their expenditure on fuel and car parts.

2. More on-track action

One of the biggest complaints about these practice sessions is that they are boring. Even though they are of prime importance from a team’s perspective to get the right setup changes and experiment on different upgrades, they can prove to be a snore-fest for the fans.

So, this one-hour time period will force the teams to bring their cars out of the garage at the same time. They will be scrambling to find a balance between their race simulation runs and honing their qualifying pace. So, it will be a better spectacle for the fans.

3. Hint towards the future?

With a record-breaking 23 race calendar, teams will face more logistical challenges than ever. Last season at Imola, the teams had no practice sessions on Friday, just a single 90-minute session on Saturday. It not only created a more unpredictable race but also eased their traveling schedules.

So, maybe these half an hour cuts could ultimately lead to a complete wipeout of on-track action for Friday. Hence, offering far greater room for even more races in the calendar.

F1 drivers not the happiest with this change

Needless to say, the drivers would like to spend as much time as possible behind the wheel to get up to speed. Therefore, it is a fresh challenge for them.

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Particularly for rookies like Mick Schumacher, who are already contending with limited pre-season testing.

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY – OCTOBER 13: Mick Schumacher #4 looks on after race 1 of the final race of the Formula 3 Championship at Hockenheimring in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

So, it is safe to say that it is a less-than-ideal scenario for the drivers. But they will have to get on with it, and perhaps as the season goes by, they might get used to this.

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Bharat Aggarwal

684 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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