Formula 1 drivers are happy that Grand Prix weekends will be shortened for the 2021 season, but they would like it to be introduced sooner.
While the new F1 regulations for 2021 primarily focussed around the design changes to the cars, bosses also announced that the format of a race weekend would be changed.
The new format will see the Thursday press conference moved to Friday morning, before free practice, while cars will enter parc ferme from the start of FP3 on Saturday morning, rather than the start of qualifying.
With press conferences shifted to Friday morning, it means there will be no requirement for drivers and mechanics to be at the circuit on Thursday, and the drivers have welcomed this decision, although Kimi Raikkonen is keen to have the rule introduced for next year.
“It should happen next year, already.” said Raikkonen in Thursday’s press conference at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“I mean today is an absolutely useless day. Honestly, we’re going to talk the same things, half of the things we talk at least on Sunday after the last race and tomorrow again.
“I think it will be a good step because people don’t need to be away that many days and there’s no cost and hotels,
“All things will be better for the team… so stop wasting time.”
Pierre Gasly agreed with Raikkonen and added that it would benefit the mechanics and team personnel more than the drivers, and that is a good thing, allowing them to get a better work/life balance.
“I think everyone in this room is happy about it: more days at home, more days with the family.” said Gasly.
“I think it’s needed, clearly I agree with what Kimi says, that not so much for us, because I would say we almost have the easy life, easiest life in the paddock,
“But for all the guys – mechanics, engineers – well, you can see, talking with them, that to have a personal life in that world, working in that environment is really difficult.
McLaren driver Carlos Sainz agreed in part with his fellow rivals, but felt that it was good for Formula 1 to make an impact in a country by being there for the best part of a week, and he thinks that rather than shortening the race weekend, F1 bosses should look at cutting down the number of Grand Prix that takes place during the season.
“I have a bit of mixed feelings. Personally I like when Formula One goes to a place it makes a big impact so it becomes a week of having Formula One there.” added Sainz.
“I think it still involves too much travelling and too much effort from the mechanics but I think this is a way of preparing for a bigger calendar which is something I’m totally against.
“I mean 22/21 races already feels too much. I think that last extra day that we take off doesn’t fully compensate those 22/25 races that we want to have in the future.”