Two day race weekend feels 'a bit foreign' to Szafnauer

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W11 leads at the start of the race. 01.11.2020.
© XPB 

Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer admitted that he had mixed feelings about the shortened two-race race weekend format that was tried for the first time in the last race, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

The shortened timetable - which saw no Friday running and just a single 90-minute practice session on Saturday morning - was introduced to address logistical problems with tight turnarounds between events due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

With next year's provisional calendar listing a record 23 races, logistical concerns will continue to be a big factor in 2021, and more two-day race weekends are almost certain to be part of the solution.

F1's director of motorsports Ross Brawn hailed the Imola trail as a success earlier this week, but Szafnauer said that it hadn't felt right to him.

"I thought I would like it, but it's a bit foreign to me," he told "Coming into this weekend, I was completely open for it, thought I was going to like it.

"But now I've got this uneasy feeling that it's not right and not Formula 1," he said. "After 23 years of having Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it feels a little bit odd and unnatural.

Another reason for the two-day format is to reduce costs and level the playing field between the teams by reducing the amount of on-track time everyone gets. But Szafnauer felt that this might actually back fire.

"If you have greater simulation tools and techniques back at the factory, being prepared to come here helps in such a compressed practice and qualifying sessions," he explained.

Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Racing Point F1 Team Principal and CEO.

"If this is what is going to happen in the future, then we'll start putting infrastructure in place back at the factory in order for us to be able to optimise - just like some of the others.

"I think it's got to be from a fan's perspective," he concluded. "Do the fans like this kind of format?"

His McLaren counterpart Andreas Seidl was more positive about the prospective new look to Formula 1 events.

"We like this format of two days, this compact format," he said. "We like this additional challenge, to get on top of your own game within this 90 minutes on Saturday morning.

"If it's something that could also help us saving running costs, and would help us also to spend less time away from home - especially for our mechanics and engineers - it's something we will be positive about."

Andreas Seidl, McLaren Managing Director in the FIA Press Conference.

Over at Williams, head of vehicle performance Dave Robson was also taking a more relaxed view of what a change to more two-day race weekends would entail at Grove.

"It is one of those things that it affects all the teams almost equally," he said. "If that's what the sport wanted to do, I don't think it'd be a big problem.

"You know what engineers are like, we don't like change," he added. "We would soon learn to adapt and still make the most of it, so it's sustainable if that's the way we want to go."

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