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Formula 2 Formula 3 free practice
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: Richard Verschoor of Netherlands and Van Amersfoort Racing (22) drives in the Pitlane during Practice ahead of Round 3:Melbourne of the Formula 2 Championship at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit on March 31, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

Do F2 and F3 need more free practice sessions?

FormulaNerds asks F2 and F3 drivers whether or not they'd like more free practice following comments by George Russell

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Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers commented on if 45 minutes of free practice per weekend is enough when asked by FormulaNerds.

Formula 2 Formula 3 free practice
Invicta Virtuosi driver Jack Doohan on track during F2 Free Practice in Melbourne (Image Credit: Joe Portlock – Getty Images)

One of the more controversial topics of discussion surrounding Formula 1 in recent weeks is centred around Free Practice. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali commented in an interview: “I am a supporter of the cancellation of free practice sessions, which are of great use to the engineers, but that the public doesn’t like.”

This statement prompted backlash from drivers and the public alike, most claiming they supported the three sessions of free practice time that Formula 1 is allotted each weekend.

George Russell’s comments

One driver who supported less practice time for Formula 1 though, was Mercedes driver George Russell. Russell’s main point was that, compared to Formula 2 and Formula 3 who only get 45 minutes of practice per weekend, the three hours that Formula 1 gets seem excessive.

“I don’t think it’s right that Formula 1 has three times the amount of practice that you have in the F3 and F2 categories,” Russell told Sky Sports ahead of the Australian Grand Prix weekend. 

“They should be the ones to get more practice, also because they’re doing less races but they don’t get to test that often.”

Responding to Russell’s comments on Twitter, former Formula 2 driver Jake Hughes said: “George is bang on with F2/F3. In F2 you go from the only practice of the weekend on the harder tyre, straight into Quali on the soft tyre for the first time that weekend up to that point. It’s almost a lottery and doesn’t allow drivers/engineers to work together to improve [in my opinion].”

But really, who better to ask if the feeder series need more practice time than the current Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers themselves? Over the race weekend in Melbourne, FormulaNerds asked several of the young drivers for their opinion on whether or not they thought more free practice time was a good idea. 

It allows you to show your potential

According to Formula 3’s polesitter in Melbourne, Gabriel Bortoleto, less practice time means more opportunities for good drivers to show their potential.

The top three from Formula 3’s qualifying session in Melbourne (from left to right) Gregoire Saucy, Gabriel Bortoleto, and Gabriele Mini (Image Credit: Brynn Lennon – Getty Images)

 “So I think one of the nicest things about F3 is that we need to be very quick to adapt to the car,” he told FormulaNerds after qualifying on Friday. “It is difficult for the rookies mainly, because we don’t have so much experience in the car so we need normally more time to adapt. 

“But I think that’s also how you show your potential, how good you are on the laps, or having not so much time to put the lap together or to feel confidence in the track.

“So I would say maybe a bit more practice, but not so much. F1 has a bit more than us for sure, but they are on another level, they have a lot of things to test, there are a lot more things going on. In F3, not so much. We just do our job and we try to be as quick as possible.”

For ART Grand Prix’s Gregoire Saucy, 45 minutes is a perfect amount of time, as long as the session runs in its entirety.

“I think if we don’t get some red flags in the FP I think it’s enough time,” he said. “But sometimes a red flag can use quite a lot of time in the FP and it’s quite difficult, we don’t have so many laps. But yeah, 45 minutes, if there is no red flag, for me I think it’s enough.”

Third-placed Gabriele Minì chimed in saying that he “thinks it’s more than enough to be honest,” and that “this requires a lot of skill, not only from drivers but also from the team to be immediately there.”

Proving your ability

Formula 2 driver Victor Martins relishes the idea of 45-minute practice sessions.

 “I like it because I like to push right away,” commented a very self-assured Martins, who qualified third in Melbourne. “I’m quite good on the first laps when you have no experience, you don’t know the track, and you need to go right on the limit straight away.

“I think it shows the talent of the drivers, so I wouldn’t change anything. The young categories are there to detect the best drivers in the world, so I think if we want to be in F1 we need to show that kind of potential and that talent. So I think it’s good.”

Martins Pourchaire Formula 2
ART teammates Theo Pourchaire (left) and Victor Martins (right) congratulate each other after Martins took pole in Jeddah (Image Credit: Joe Portlock – Getty Images)

Martins’ more experienced ART teammate, Theo Pourchaire, agreed with him, saying: “It’s not easy in Formula 2 when you have only 45 minutes to learn a track, but that’s part of our job and we can see some qualities in some drivers. For sure there is a big, big step between F1 and F2, they have three free practices and we have only one for 45 minutes. 

“But yeah it’s like this: we need to adapt ourselves, so it’s tough, but as I said we can see where the good drivers are. We need to adapt quickly to every condition, so it’s not easy but it’s good.”

DAMS Racing’s Ayumu Iwasa, was the sixth driver of the weekend to voice their support of the format to FormulaNerds.

“I’m the same as Theo,” said Iwasa after claiming his pole position in Formula 2. “I think it’s a really good format at the moment, that’s what I’m feeling. Having quite small free practice, I think, is showing a lot of differences between the drivers, so I don’t have any opinion about it.”

Summing it up

So it seems that, as a collective, the F2 and F3 drivers are content to have less than a third of the free practice time that Formula 1 gets. 

While Russell and Hughes may be right in that more practice time would give drivers more time to improve, it’s also a good way to distinguish drivers who, like Martins [self-proclaimed], can find the limit and be quick straight away, from the rest of the pack.

For now at least, the consensus is that the feeder series format works well for the Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers who are subject to it, which, ultimately, is what’s most important, no matter what George Russell says.

Feature Image Credit: Bryn Lennon – Getty Images

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