Only one practice session before qualifying when F1 returns to Imola


F1 teams will need to get to grips with Imola quickly in November with just one practice session ahead of qualifying

Jenson Button, Imola 2006

Teams won't have long to get to grips at Imola

Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images

Formula 1 has firmed up the timetable for its return to Imola at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix two-day race weekend, with practice cut down to one Saturday session.

The unique format will mean there is just a single practice session for drivers to acclimatise to the circuit and adjust car set-ups before qualifying, which will take place as normal on Saturday.

It is currently the only race weekend currently scheduled that will take place over a condensed two-day period. The single practice session will last for 1hr 30m ahead of qualifying at 2pm local time.

The race, which takes place on November 1, will begin an hour earlier than most European grands prix, at 1.10pm local time (12.10pm BST).

Liberty Media has been looking to shorten race weekends since taking ownership of F1, and has already announced plans to condense schedules next year.

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From 2021, Thursday media commitments will be folded into Friday, along with scrutineering, but practice sessions are not affected.

However, the Imola race could be seen as a trial for further changes to race weekends, particularly as F1 has been exploring the idea of cutting back practice sessions.

“There will still two practice sessions [in 2021], possibly shorter, in the afternoon,” F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn said of the 2021 regulation announcement.

“We’ll still get pretty close to the same amount of track time but it will make it more efficient. The teams have been very co-operative on this process and most feel they can come to a race weekend at least one day later than they currently do.”

Another factor that may have influenced the decision is the compact nature of this season’s championship.

With a triple-header already in the books and teams in the midst of its second of the season already, shorter weekends could both fit extra races into an already tight schedule as well as give mechanics and team members much needed rest between events.

Formula 1 last raced at Imola in 2006 and will be the third visit to Italy during the altered 2020 season, after Monza and Mugello both set to take place in September.