Plans to shorten F1 weekend rejected; testing set for changes

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Plans for the Formula 1 race weekend to be reduced from four to three days have been rejected as the teams discuss changes to the sporting regulations for the 2015 season.

According to German publication Auto Motor und Sport, the proposed changes were rejected at a meeting in England yesterday between the main players in Formula 1 (the teams, the suppliers, the organizers, and the governors). However, changes to both pre-season and in-season testing are set to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council in the coming weeks.

In Canada, reports emerged suggesting that, in order to aid cost cutting, the Thursday programme for teams and the media in Formula 1 would be removed. Instead, media duties and briefings would take place on Friday morning in place of the first practice session. There would be just one practice later on Friday evening, allowing fans to come to the track once they had finished work.

This would have removed a day of travelling out for all involved in the sport, thus cutting costs. However, it would also have put an increased burden on the teams with just a single session, which, given the times that it was due to start, may not have been entirely representative. For the media, it also meant that any news broken in the morning on Friday could have been made redundant by the events in practice later that day. Instead, the weekend schedule is set to remain the way currently is for 2015.

A ban on tire warmers had also been proposed, but this too has been rejected. Pirelli will instead pay teams €200,000 each to put its logo upon the warmers. This sponsorship should ease some of the costs.

Testing has been altered, though. This season, teams had three pre-season tests (one in Spain, two in Bahrain) plus eight days worth of in-season testing, spread across four days following a grand prix. For 2015, all of the tests taking place over the winter will take place in Europe – most probably in Jerez and Barcelona, as has been the trend – and teams will get just four days of in-season testing.

The rejection of the changes made to the race weekend schedule appears to be for the best. It would have placed a greater deal of pressure on the teams and personnel travelling to races, without saving a huge amount of money. In the grand scheme of things, this approach to cutting costs was a very small-scale one.

The changes made to testing are similarly sensible. Less running in-season will aid cost cutting, as will keeping everything in Europe. The reason for holding two tests in Bahrain this year was largely due to the rain-affected tests in 2013; Bahrain rarely is affected by wet weather. Clearly, the teams are happy to accept washouts that may occur in Spain at the beginning of February.

Any possible changes made to either the sporting or technical regulations for next season will need to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council. For now though, it appears that the routine weekend structure is set to remain in place, and other ideas will need to be put forward to address the cost crisis in the sport.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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