What Would You Do With Grand Prix Fridays?

What Would You Do With Grand Prix Fridays?

Autosport have recently reported that a potential shake-up of the way a race weekend is structured is being discussed. The newly-formed Formula One Team’s Association have been looking at a lot of aspects relating to Formula One, and as usual when these kind of discussions happen, the age-old Friday’s aren’t particularly interesting line comes out. Martin Whitmarsh appears to have been the most vocal on this, but his idea is just plain silly.

Of course, many Formula One fans will not even realise the cars are running on the Friday, completely unaware that there are two 90 minute practice sessions. And why would they be aware? The practice sessions accounts for no part of the result and they merely allow the drivers a chance to fine-tune their set up for qualifying the following day.

At the moment we formulated a Friday testing format, but in reality no one is doing the normal disciplined testing. We are preparing for the race [instead].

If you give a race team the chance to go on the race track where they are going to race at on the Sunday on the Friday before, then we must have been nuts to think that we will be doing engineering testing. So we are all as bad as one another. Martin Whitmarsh.

That’s a fair statement, I think. Whitmarsh has essentially stated that although the original plan was x, everyone is in fact doing y. So they realise that perhaps there is a problem, and now FOTA intend to find a solution…

So we say, is this good value? Does it help the show? Or do you perhaps do something where you say, let’s cut it down to 45 minutes only, maybe you give a completely different specification of tyres, a really hard tyre, and you create a mini competition where everyone tries to set the fastest time and you give a million dollars to the winning driver?

It means there would be something to write about and it introduces the weekend. It is separate from the race. So there are all those sort of ideas about. Martin Whitmarsh.

What!? While giving away vast sums of money for setting the fastest lap on a Friday will give people like myself something to write about, I do not see how that, in any way, shape or form, adds value to a racing weekend; something Martin Whitmarsh asked at the very beginning of his statement. Saturday is interesting because it contributes (indirectly) to the final race result. Qualifying – in it’s old format (sorry, couldn’t resist) – was a competition to get the fastest lap, and at circuits like Monaco, it is pretty important to qualify as high up the grid as possible. But a shoot-out competition? That is completely separate to the end result and the reason why 20 drivers race every other weekend of the season.

Instead, FOTA need to find a way of incorporating Friday into the weekend. Perhaps it should be a sort of pre-qualifying event? The positions of the drivers at the end of the session determines how many laps you will be allowed to use during a newly revised one-hour/x-laps qualifying session. Say, the top five can use 12 laps, the next five can use 9 laps, then 6 laps and the bottom five only get 3 laps, an out-lap, a quick-lap and an in-lap. Or better still, if there was a way to police it, reverse all that.

Admittedly, that’s a crazy idea that I came up with in about 30 seconds, but in my humble opinion, that is miles better than watching a race which has nothing to do with the grand prix or the championship. How is what Martin Whitmarsh suggested going to make me tune-in on a Friday?

So, dear readers of BlogF1, what would you do to add interest to Grand Prix Fridays? The comments are open, so get the brains in gear and let us know…


  • I can’t think of anything particularly good, perhaps because “change Friday practice” is a long way down the list of “stuff that needs fixing in F1”.

    Consistent stewarding? Clear rules? Better engagement with the fans? Improved racing? More teams? All far more important matters.

    If FOTA is going to duck the more important issues and prioritise unimportant stuff like this then they aren’t going to be much use.

  • zzzz… Give it up people, Fridays do not and will never attract the amount of audience and media talk that Saturday and Sunday do. No matter what they try to jazz up Fridays, it’ll simply turn into a silly side-show and over-saturate the audience’s interest. Anyways, most people work on Fridays and two days are more than enough for our attention span.

    Fridays are for just three things:

    1. For the on-site fans to wander around, enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the race cars at different corners, hang out behind the pits, people watch, visit the booths, get some swag.

    2. Have something to watch on TV when you’re too sick to go to work and/or doing laundry.

    3. For the media to report on the silly extras of the F1 circus, without being hampered by on-track action that may have real consequences.

    I know, many of you will say, but the “silly extras” are what’s wrong with F1 today. I’d say au contraire, these are what sets F1 apart from the others, the controversies, the soap operas, the glamour of it all. If it was all just competition, it’ll be just another racing formula with cars on steroids.

    As for qualifying, i like the way it is now. It creates drama from start to finish and makes everybody work all the time. The one part i don’t like is that silly rule to make Q3 cars keep their fuel load for the race. I want to see the pole-sitter qualify with the fastest time of the day, and i want to see the fastest driver/car on the pole, not the lightest-fueled.

    You want more interest for F1? Get rid of all those aerodynamic parts that cost a ton of research and make passing harder and that the average fan can’t relate to anyways. Clarify all the racing rules to the tee, fire the current crack-smoking stewards they got, and get back to pure racing.

  • I think the current format works fine – its about pre-race set up and testing.

    If we must have prizes, I agree they should fit in with the weekend.

    The fastest lap on a Friday gets:

    1) a “bye” into Q3 (thereby at the very least saving sets of tyres), or

    2) the right to choose race fuel, regardless of the fuel level in qualifying (i.e. the same right as those drivers whose qualifying ended in Q1 and Q2) – although this would in effect mean that the fastest on Friday would be given pole position,

    or (if I may be mischievous)

    3) a “Get out of jail free” card which allows one chicane to be cut in race (or unsafe pit release if that is your bag), or

    4) to choose a steward for the remainder of the weekend.

  • think i’d be inclined to keep them as they are to be honest. they seem like a relaxing way to ease into the weekend. i quite enjoy it when a free practice session goes quiet and the cameras have to pick out other interesting features you don’t normally see (car detail, pitwall chatter, who the fans are supporting etc).

    we also enjoyed friday at silverstone this year too. again it was a relaxing start to a long weekend.

    race weekends should build to a crescendo, why try and hit people the minute they walk through the gates?

  • I agree with, erm, ‘me’: Fridays at Grands Prix give you a chance to walk the track before the crowds get to heavy, soak up the atmosphere and explore.

    I don’t like Haggis’s suggestions because that sort of thing would just over-complicate matters and the race-fuel qualifying rules are arcane enough as it is.

  • Question – what are the TV ratings for qualifying on Saturdays versus race days? Do casual viewers watch Saturdays?

    Personally, if it isn’t a rainy day, I’m not likely to be in front of the TV set on Saturday, and even then, if there is a decent movie on, I’ll probably be watching that instead.

    Would anything meaningful on Fridays get me to watch? Probably not. Like most folks, I work during the day and then go out on Friday night for a bit of fun. I’ll catch up on the Saturday morning sports shows (…or more likely by reading Oliver’s blog.)

  • …or more likely by reading Oliver’s blog

    You the man, Greg, you the man! 😛

    Great comments so far. One thing I did want to mention in the post but didn’t get around to was the very fact that on Friday, most European’s (so, Bernie’s key market, apparently) are at work between 9am and 5pm. Therefore, is spicing up the Friday really worth it? In fact, why don’t they just drop it? Perhaps have more feature races, GP2 or whatever…?

  • Friday nights are out, for us who live in the states the time change from here to overseas, as Greg stated would put me at work. I can also find alot more to due on a Friday night than watch F1 (example: Bar, Drinking, oh my god I am sounding like some F1 drivers LOL) I think that F1 has to much that needs to be fixed at the present time without adding to the list.

  • Therefore, is spicing up the Friday really worth it? In fact, why don’t they just drop it? Perhaps have more feature races, GP2 or whatever…?

    because almost no-one would buy tickets.

    at least i wouldn’t pay to watch gp2. especially when you have wsr which is free.

    also bernie makes money out of friday tv. probably not that much, but who, other than motorstv, who would pay to broadcast a feature race?

  • I am with the majority on this. Fridays as they are, are fine by me. I like Keith’s original point that of all the problems I have with F1 Friday entertainment wouldn’t make the first ten pages. Putting decent racing on, proper professional stewards and not giving races to circuits with untrained marshalls are way higher up the list. Gilles Villeneuve identified aerodynamics as the major hindrance to racing and he died in 1982 so you would think the FIA would have sorted it by now.

  • What to do about Fridays…. hmmm….

    How about discontinuing the pre-event testing that allows teams to collect data and dial-in the cars a week or so before the Grand Prix? These official FOM Tests in my mind are the reason teams do very little running and almost no developement work over the 3 days of the Grand Prix. So why not discontinue these separate tests and allow unlimited running and unlimited tyres for the Friday “Test” sessions.

    Not only would it provide more for the fans attending the race, it would provide the media with something worthwhile to report and talk about.

    Just an idea…

  • Martin Whitmarsh is the boss of the sporting committee of FOTA – so what the heck is he doing messing about with ways to spice up the show? Obviously, he knows that it doesn’t matter what he proposes on the sporting front, the FIA will continue to do as it pleases.

    If we have to think about the show, how about making Fridays more interesting for the TV viewers? Those who actually attend will continue to do so and any amount of wacky races is not going to add to their numbers. The TV broadcasters should be thinking in terms of using the day to get much more in-depth coverage, to draw viewers in, educate them and so allow a greater appreciation of the race itself.

    Why not concentrate on one team per Friday? Let Mr Whitmarsh use his influence to get the teams (including his own) to allow a TV crew full access on a Friday. So we could see the sessions from Williams’ point of view at one GP, sit in on team meetings, get to know Nico and Kazuki as people and not just drivers, meet the mechanics, the tyre guys, etc. Then we could move on to McLaren at the next race and so on.

    We are constantly being told that NASCAR allows the public access to its drivers and so maintains interest in their series; let F1 take a step beyond that and let the fans get to know the whole team.

  • If they want to spice up Fridays lets have Procar back or all the drivers race in identical saloon cars and lets bruise a few egos. The manufacturers could take turns at supplying the cars and the drivers could draw lots to make sure the manufacturers don’t give their drivers the good cars.

  • Like previous replies have said it is really not that high up on the F1 ‘to-do’ list. Whitmarsh is such a ‘paid millions thinks peanuts’ man.

  • Fridays work for me exactly as they are. I don’t have a job to go to on Fridays, and the different ambience of watching online (as opposed to via TV as per qualifying and the race) is a thrill.

    I’d be in favour of either casa de lana’s idea of dropping mid-season testing entirely or turning it into mid-week non-championship races (held at tracks not used for the championship). Other than that, I don’t think you have to do anything to make Friday more exciting – it’s exciting enough as it is.

  • If Bernie and Co are looking for more exposure and therefore more money,why not get organisations like `Make a dream come true`involved.Surely to give seriously ill children the chance to meet there hereos and be in the paddock would not only be a massive hit with the children,who need some light in there darkest hours,but the press too.Make the pratice session a `sort of` time trial race and all prize money going on to charity.Everyone`s a winner.

  • Thanks Alianora, I thought people might say`Oh please no`, and who better than Michael Schumacher to head it. I read/heard that he used to donate (probably still does) around £300000 a year to charity while he was racing. And perhaps people might realise he is human after all, and not just one of the greatest drivers in F1 history. All depends whether they can prise him away from the Ferrari pit wall 😉

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