Formula One will reduce the on-track action of race weekends in 2021 by shortening both Friday’s free practice sessions from ninety minutes to a single hour.
In-season testing has been effectively banned since 2009 and, apart from pre-season testing, only a few test sessions have been held since then.
This lack of running means that Friday running has become vital for teams as they can try out new parts during the first two practice sessions before they revert to the race specification for the remainder of the weekend. The FP1 and FP2 sessions are also important for young drivers or for those who joined a new team in order to get familiar with their new car.
The race weekend format will undergo a change for the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship with the schedule set to feature shorter practice sessions on Fridays. For long years, Formula One drivers have been able to complete two 90-minute free practice sessions on Friday, but from next year on, drivers will only get two 60-minute sessions on Friday. The change was needed as the calendar expands to 23 races in 2021.
The rest of the race weekend will remain unchanged with the one-hour Saturday practice session taking place no less than nineteen hours after the end of FP2.
„Two free practice sessions (P1 and P2), each lasting one hour and separated by at least two and a half hours, will take place on the second day of the Event,” states Paragraph 32.1 of the updated Sporting Regulations.