Teams are planning to minimize their running in FP3 in Australia this weekend in order to ensure that their cars are fit to take part in qualifying.
It’s been obvious for some weeks that the length of time required to change components on the 2014 cars means that anyone hitting a serious problem in the Saturday practice would not be able to ready their car for qualifying. As a result, some teams will try to do all of their work on Friday and perhaps make only a token appearance for an installation lap on Saturday. A lack of action on track won’t be good news for fans.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed that teams have already indicated that they will follow such a strategy, and one team manager told this writer that it was a logical option given the risk of missing qualifying.
“There’s a two-hour gap as we know between P3 and qualifying,” said Whiting. “And it would be very unfortunate if a team had a problem at the end of P3 that they couldn’t fix for qualifying. It’s not without precedent as we’ve seen it happen in the past – Fernando Alonso having a shunt in Monaco a few years ago, for example.
“Teams are worried that it’s going to be more common, and I’ve even heard teams saying that they will skip P3 to make sure that they’ve got the car ready for qualifying, but we’ll see. Everyone’s got their own way of going about things – some teams tell me it will take seven hours to change an engine, some say it will take three, some say it will take an hour and a half. We don’t know really whether such difficult situations like that will actually arise. I’m sure things will be different to what we’re used to for the first three or four races, but I have no real feeling for what will happen.”