This weekend saw Formula 1 confirm all of its session times for the upcoming season, which is due to begin with this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, 28th March. It confirms the rumours that have been abound for the last few weeks that practice time was due to be reduced.
Previously in F1 seasons, the two Friday practice sessions have lasted for 90 minutes, followed by an hour’s practice session on Saturday morning before the main event on Sunday. However, effective from next month, the two Friday sessions will now be an hour long each, thus cutting practice time by an hour on race weekends.
With the exception of countries that hold twilight or night races - Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Singapore - most race weekends will commence at 11:30am local time, with race start times now happening on the hour rather than 10 minutes past the hour, as had been the case before.
The previous change was primarily due to Liberty Media, the TV production company for F1, pushing back the start of a Grand Prix last season by 10 minutes, to allow broadcasters to air short live build-up coverage prior to the start.
However, with most opting to air an hour-long build up show in their respective territories - Channel 4, who show live coverage of the races here in the UK included - the move to start races at 10 minutes past has subsequently been reverted back to on the hour.
Meanwhile, the location of the third race of the season on Sunday, 2nd May is still hanging in the balance. It is looking increasingly unlikely that F1 will be returning to Portimão this season, following further tightening of restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic there, but it has not yet been indicated where its replacement is likely to be.
In other news, Renault will also return to the forthcoming season and are committed to Formula 1 until at least 2025, but they will now be operating under a new name, as they rebrand to the Alpine F1 Team following wider branding shifts in the Renault Group as a whole.
It was confirmed in July last year that two time world champion Fernando Alonso would be returning to the team for another season, and team bosses are hoping that the new branding and colours as Alpine will bring Renault back to victory after five consecutive seasons without a win since 2016.
Keep checking back to our News pages on TrackDays, as we will continue to bring you all the latest developments ahead of the 2021 Formula 1 season.