Discussing grand prix weekend formats with Pat Symonds

In the last few years, there were some who believe that the Grand Prix format should change to adapt to a new era. Grand Prix 247 suggested a new format to have a more exciting weekend and asked Pat Symonds for his opinion.

The current event format has been in place for many years – a three-day weekend program – and it would be hard to change the length and timing.

All the Grand Prix promoters, except Monaco, pay a huge amount of money to have the privilege of having a Formula 1 event, and more days represent more income, so slash one down to two would be very unpopular with them, so let’s keep the three days format.

But let’s inject more excitement to the Fridays, which nowadays are mere test sessions for the teams.

Let’s put youngsters in the first practice session, no incumbent drivers, just the juniors. No driver with more than two Grand Prix’s under his belt could take part in the session, leaving both regular drivers on the sidelines.

This would give the opportunities to the young drivers to have some time in a Formula 1 seat and put their names in a global audience, which would be a good thing to their junior careers.

The big names would be back in the afternoon, but they wouldn’t have time to relax, as they would have the first one-hour qualifying session of the weekend.

In dispute, will be Q1 and Q2 and each driver would have two sets of tires for each segment that would have to be used to set a flying lap. The ten Q2 fastest would have to start the Sunday race with their qualifying rubber to reach Q3, just as it happens today.

This way, the cars wouldn’t be optimized to the circuit, which could give us some surprises and some cars out of order for the race.

It would give us, also, a media headline for Friday, something to tell the world at large not simply technical info that means little to anyone but insiders and die-hard fans.

This leads us to Saturday with an hour practice session, just as we have today, where the ten Friday slowest driver could focus on Sunday and the rest could have different approaches – to get the best possible to qualifying optimization and try to live with it in the race or to work in the race set-up.

In the afternoon we would have the last qualifying stretch, the Q3.

Each driver would have three sets of new softest tyres for the thirty-minute session, those would have to be use at each ten minutes and would have to be returned to Pirelli before the race.

The loss of track time would give to the teams less time to prepare the weekend, leading to more unknowns during the event, which could give us more exciting moments in the Sunday race, with, probably, some cars out of position in the grid.

We asked Pat Symonds his opinion about our suggested weekend format and this is his feedback, “At F1 we are working on several ideas for new race formats and much of what you have suggested is part of our investigations.

“We like the reduced tyre usage from a cost but more importantly sustainability point of view. We like to give an opportunity to young drivers, we welcome making Friday more competitive, welcome increased jeopardy and less predictability.”

However, the Chief Technical Officer of F1’s Motorsports Division believes it will be very difficult to make everyone happy with any new format, predicting a long and drawn-out process.

“In general, I think these ideas are good, but it is necessary to take a very holistic view of the many different requirements that various stakeholders have and this is never easy as they all have different needs!” explained Symonds.

So, when could we see a change?

“The timeframe is open.  We would like to do these things as soon as we can but without major disruption to the teams,” explained Symonds.

Alternative Grand Prix Weekend

Each driver have to 11 sets of dry tyres for the weekend (Present – 13)


  • Morning Rookie test (1h30m)
  • Two sets of tyres – They must be returned to Pirelli after the session
  • Only drivers that didn’t compete in more than 2 Grand Prix may take part
  • Afternoon: 1st qualifying for incumbent drivers; 1-hour session to dispute the Q1 and Q2
  • 4 sets of tyres – all of them must be used in a flying lap, except those who are eliminated in Q1.
  • The 10 fastest in Q2 must start the race with their qualifying tires.


  • Morning: 1 hour and half practice session
  • Afternoon: Q3 – 30 minutes
  • 3 sets of the softest tyres that must be used each 10 minutes
  • All the tyres must be returned to Pirelli after de session

Sunday: Race