Formula 1 has announced all of the session times for the 2021 season, confirming a reduction in Friday practice and changes to the start of races.
In the past, Friday practice has consisted of two sessions of 90 minutes each, ahead of a final one-hour practice session on a Saturday morning. For 2021 the two Friday sessions have been reduced to an hour each, reducing the overall practice time during a race weekend from four hours to three.
The majority of race weekends will see FP1 start at 11:30 local time, although there are different schedules for twilight and night races such as in Bahrain, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
The race start times have also been adjusted, reverting to a start time at the top of the hour rather than at ten past. Liberty Media had pushed a grand prix back by 10 minutes in order to allow broadcasters to come on air on the hour and still have a short build-up, but with the majority having hour-long pre-race shows this change has now been reversed.
Most European daytime races will start at 3 p.m. local time, with 2 p.m. used in Canada, Japan, the United States and Brazil. Mexico will start even earlier at 1 p.m., with Azerbaijan (4 p.m.) and Australia (5 p.m.) having later afternoon slots.
There is still no venue confirmed for the third race of the season on the session timings, with the original plan to return to Portimao now thought to be less certain given the tough lockdown situation in Europe. RACER understands Formula 1 does have back-up plans already in place for a number of different scenarios should an event need to be cancelled in the early part of the year.