Mercedes are still taking steps to adapt to the recent changes to the durations of Formula 1 practice sessions. Speaking about how the one-hour session impacted the team's approach, Mercedes' technical director James Allison said:
"All the teams have had to make changes because going from an hour-and-a-half to an hour for those sessions makes quite a big difference. Last year, we had the luxury at the start of sessions to wait for a few minutes, maybe ten minutes sometimes, to let other teams clean the track and get the track in a state where we could then start to work on our program. That luxury is gone with this change. You need to start when the session starts and then, you need to keep the runs coming because that lack of half-an-hour means you really do need to keep your car out on the track as much as possible."
The Mercedes technical director further stressed how the times between the runs get further compressed as well and it leaves the team with next to no time to execute the plans.
The scope of making changes during the session has reduced considerably and the teams will need to be better prepared beforehand for every eventuality.
“And the time between runs gets quite compressed. We reckon we had something like six or seven minutes to carry out the changes in-between runs, which puts quite a large limitation on the sort of things you can contemplate doing in the session," said Allison. “There is not really any time for freestyling or changing direction in the session itself. You have to have a pre-programmed plan, you have to stick to it and you have to execute it cleanly."
It's quite high pressure and exciting: Mercedes
Despite the issues faced by Mercedes, Allison feels the product is probably better for the fans as it leads to more action throughout the practice sessions as compared to periods of no running that were quite common with the 90-minute sessions until last year.
“It’s quite high pressure, but it’s also quite exciting and I think probably a better product for the fans because the action on the track is always there.” said Allison.