Formula 1 race weekends will feature shorter practice sessions on Fridays following an update for the 2021 FIA Sporting Regulations.
An original plan to reduce the race weekend to include media activities on a Friday morning before a single practice session in the afternoon have been postponed until at least 2022 when new technical regulations are being introduced, but as the calendar expands to 23 races next season, the sport has pushed ahead with a reduction in practice time.
Previously, teams had two 90-minute sessions on a Friday before a final hour-long practice session on Saturday ahead of qualifying, leading to a total of four hours’ practice before the grand prix itself. From 2021, that has been reduced to two sessions of one hour each on a Friday, while the rest of the race weekend remains unchanged.
The sporting regulations – published before Christmas – confirm the continuation of a number of measures introduced in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Pirelli also giving all teams the same allocation of tire compounds. Previously, teams could choose how many of each compound they wanted, but for 2021 each driver will be allocated to sets of hard, three sets of medium and eight sets of soft tires per event.
Races will also continue to be identified as “open” – meaning guests are allowed in the paddock – or “closed” – no guests – with the latter limiting each team to a maximum of 90 personnel, of which only 60 can be associated with the operation of the cars. At open events, teams can have more personnel, but the limit of 60 involved with running the car remains in place.
Ahead of the record-breaking 23-race season, the curfew period on Thursday and Friday night has also been extended from eight to nine hours, starting 12 hours before FP1 and FP3 respectively.