Russell, Norris back calls to reduce F1 practice time

George Russell and Lando Norris support the idea of cutting back Formula 1 practice sessions and reckon the extra track time should be handed to junior series.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali thrust the sanctity of free practice into the limelight in an interview last weekend with SportTV. He said: "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."

Arguments in favour of slashing the three one-hour sessions include taking away data from engineers and drivers to increase the likelihood of entertaining mistakes.

Mercedes driver Russell reckons experienced F1 drivers did not need the extra laps, so the FIA F2 and F3 support categories should pick up the extra track time.

In response to being asked whether three practice sessions were necessary, Russell said: "I think no is the answer.

"Obviously, the more practice you do, the more up to speed you'll be, the more comfortable you'll be with the car.

"I don't think it's right that Formula 1 has three times the amount of practice that you have in the F3 and F2 categories.

"They should be the ones to get more practice, also because they're doing less races, they don't get to test that often."

Russell implied Domenicali might have stretched the idea by wanting to bin practice altogether, but that F1 owner Liberty Media's attempts to spice up the schedule by adding sprint races - which move qualifying to a Friday in place of FP2 - had broadened his horizons.

He continued: "No practice would be too little.

"I wasn't in favour of the sprint races initially… but I really enjoy the sprint races and having action on a Friday is vital for all of us and also for the entertainment factor."

McLaren's Lando Norris backed the idea to hand more time to FIA F2 and F3 to improve the value for money of the series, plus he liked the idea of reduced running adding to the pressure F1 drivers face.

Lando Norris, McLaren

Lando Norris, McLaren

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

He said: "For my time in [F2, 2018], when you see the cost of how much it is to do this series versus the amount of laps you get, it's shocking… it's really stupid.

"To give them more track time… it's definitely a good thing for junior drivers to get that from Formula 1."

"FP1 into qualifying, that nature of it, I do love. It puts me under pressure, puts the engineers under a bit more pressure and we get straight into the action."

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But defending champion Max Verstappen reckoned F1 might be advised to largely leave the current format alone and instead address other areas to boost the spectacle.

The Red Bull driver said: "I'm not a fan of how many races we do nowadays and I'm not a fan of changing the whole format [without practice sessions] either.

"They have to be careful not to change the whole DNA of Formula 1.

"I do think it's important that they don't play with that too much, because then of course at one point it stops.

He continued: "The way I used to watch Formula 1 when I was younger, I really liked it, looking forward to the race on Sunday.

"When you do so many races as we do nowadays maybe you can cut out one practice session, but other than that, I don't think you need to change many things.

"The only thing you have to look at is making the field closer, so the gaps between all teams, which leads to more exciting racing in general."

Additional reporting by Adam Cooper and Filip Cleeren

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