Could Formula 1 practice sessions really be cancelled?

A new qualifying format will be trialled at two select rounds this season.

There is certainly never a dull moment in the political world of Formula 1, with CEO Stefano Domenicali having opened a can of worms following some very interesting comments last weekend.

The Italian was a guest at the MotoGP season-opener on Sunday at the Algarve International Circuit, where he waved the chequered flag as reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia claimed victory.

Domenicali has since caused a massive stir following his appearance in Portugal, with the F1 CEO having admitted that he is a “supporter” of a potentially huge format change.

The Italian revealed that he was in favour of cancelling free practice sessions, of which there are three every Grand Prix.

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With F1 consisting of such minimal testing nowadays, free practice is an essential time for the teams and the engineers to test any new components and gather data, whilst it allows the drivers to prepare for qualifying and the race.

Domenicali seemingly wants teams to have less preparation time in the belief that it’ll lead to more surprising results, therefore resulting in more excitement.

“I am a supporter of the cancellation of free practice sessions, which are of great use to the engineers but that the public doesn’t like,” Domenicali told Portuguese channel SportTV.

The sport is certainly in the middle of a period where it’s more than open to trialling new formats, largely due to its owners Liberty Media.

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Since Liberty Media bought the sport’s commercial rights, sprint races have been introduced with a new qualifying format also set to be tested at certain rounds this season, to further spice things up.

The new qualifying format will see drivers only allowed to use the hard compound in Q1, the medium in Q2 and the soft in Q3.

Teams will likely be completely against the cancellation of practice given how vital data gathering is; however, if Domenicali has it his way then it’ll certainly be discussed by the F1 Commission.

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The Italian has previously discussed what he would like to see happen to the weekend format, with the CEO believing that practice sessions should offer points.

“In a normal weekend, the one consisting of free practice one and two on Friday, each session should be awarding either points, or single qualifying laps, or a qualification for a different and shorter Saturday race, instead of the third free [practice], perhaps with the mechanism of the reverse grid,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera last year.

“We are putting a lot of things on the table. A lot of people say no, but we have seen on some occasions the beauty (of mixed grids delivering) more overtaking.”