In a proposed radical shake-up of Formula 1's Friday free practice sessions at grand prix weekends, it has been suggested that drivers be given the incentive of a $1 million prize for setting the fastest time of the day.
The utility of F1's officially-designated 'practice day' has been the topic of debate for some time, with fans and the media alike finding little merit in tuning in when drivers and teams are conducting what is essentially a glorified test session and little to be able to be read into the eventual timesheets.
That has prompted the teams to ponder one of two options – jazzing the day up or, in a time of ever-greater belt-tightening necessity in the top flight, doing away with it altogether. Friday qualifying was last run in 2003, in order to determine the running order for Saturday's one-hour session.
“The teams are looking at the whole format of a race weekend,” McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh is quoted as having said by international news agency Reuters
. “We have formulated a Friday testing format, but in reality nobody is doing the normal disciplined testing – we're preparing for the race.
“So we say: 'Is this good value? Does it help the show?' Or perhaps you say 'Let's cut it down to only 45 minutes'. Maybe you specify a really hard tyre and create a mini-competition where everybody tries to set the fastest time and you give a million dollars to the quickest driver.
“It would be a good start to the weekend, give the press something to write about and be completely separate to Sunday's race. There are all those sorts of ideas around.”
Whitmarsh is in charge of the working group of the new Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), which has been tasked by FIA President Max Mosley to come up with ideas to spice up the sport's spectacle, improve energy efficiency and cut costs.
More discussions are due to be held during FOTA meetings at the upcoming two grands prix in Japan and China, before the teams' recommendations are submitted to the governing body.