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Teams no longer ‘freestyling’ in condensed practice sessions

Formula 1 practice sessions are now “high-pressure” with little room for manoeuvrability, according to Mercedes, due to their condensed nature.

Formula 1 has previously held two 90-minute practice sessions on a Friday but these have each been reduced in length by 30 minutes, taking away an hour of running from a grand prix weekend.

The changes come after Formula 1 trialled a two-day format at Imola last year, with only one 90-minute session, while Friday running at the preceding Nurburgring round was wiped due to fog.

“All the teams have had to make changes because going from an hour and a half to an hour for those sessions makes quite a big difference,” said Mercedes’ technical chief James Allison.

“Last year, we had the luxury at the start of sessions to wait for a few minutes, maybe 10 minutes sometimes, to let other teams clean the track and get the track in a state where we can then start to work on our programme. That luxury is gone with this change.

“You need to start when the session starts and then you need to keep the runs coming because that lack of half an hour means you really do need to keep your car out on the track as much as possible.

“The time in between runs gets quite compressed. We reckon [in Bahrain] we had something like six or seven minutes for doing the changes in between runs which puts quite a large limitation on the sort of things you can contemplate doing in the session.

“There is not really any time for freestyling or changing direction in the session itself.

“You have to have a pre-programme plan, you have to stick to it and you have to execute it cleanly.

“It’s quite high pressure, but it’s also quite exciting and I think probably a better product for the fans because the action on the track is always there.”


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