F1 drivers rein in Domenicali practice idea
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 30th March, 2023 - 11:30pm
George Russell and Pierre Gasly have called on F1 CEO and president Stefano Domenicali not to push through with his idea to abolish F1 practice.
Speaking to Portuguese network SportTV in attending the opening MotoGP round at Portimão at the weekend, Domenicali said he was “a supporter of the cancellation of free practice sessions”.
He added they “are of great use to the engineers, but that the public doesn’t like”.
The comment was Domenicali effectively testing the water with an idea as he continues to try to shake up a grand prix weekend in a bid to provide added entertainment, potentially even awarding points for the best practice times.
A number of drivers, however, spearheaded by Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director Russell, feel it would be wrong to rid F1 of all three hour-long practice sessions, but are at least in favour of cutting back.
Asked whether the trio of sessions were required, Mercedes driver Russell said: “I think no is the answer.
“Obviously, the more practice you do, the more up to speed you’ll be, the more comfortable you’ll be with the car.
“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.
“They should be the ones to get more practice, also because they’re doing fewer races, and they don’t get to test that often.
“No practice would be too little.”
Russell rules out points proposition
Dismissing the notion of gimmicky points in practice, Russell feels they should be left as they are to allow drivers and teams “to dial in the car, to test things for the future”.
“We obviously have no testing at all (in-season),” added Russell. “I think one session is good enough for all of us to do the various things we need to try and to help develop (the car).
“This is still the pinnacle of the sport and you don’t want to be just left with the car that you created at the start of the year with no opportunity to try out new things.
“And that is sort of the beauty, sometimes – you’ve got this 60-minute session, you can try new things, develop, improve further.
“Whereas if you’re going straight into a session that is points-worthy or there is a reward, you’re less likely to trial new things.”
Alpine driver Pierre Gasly echoed Russell’s sentiments with regard to the fact there is no need for three sessions.
“It’s always nice, you can work on fine details on the car and really try to nail the car balance for the weekend,” said Gasly.
“But generally speaking, I think one, two maximum, is more than enough for us.”
Williams’ Lance Stroll was also in agreement, adding: “Three is definitely a lot, especially coming from F2 where you just have to take risks a lot sooner than I currently have to.
“As a rookie, I don’t mind having two or three but going forward, I don’t think three is necessary.”
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