If you’ve been to a grand prix this year, and paid to attend on the Friday you’ll probably have noticed something… the feeling of being ripped off. More than in previous years, Fridays seem to be giving far less to fans as their heroes sit out the sessions in the garages.

There are currently ideas being aired among the bosses to change Fridays so they give more for fans, but in the meantime they could at least consider supplementing the Free Practice sessions with some kind of paint-drying event to really liven things up.

Thanks to Max’s ‘cost cutting, improving the sport’ engine rules – about as predictably disastrous as any scheme that has the word ‘improvement’ in it – Friday’s Free Practice sessions have been pretty poorly used by the top names so far.

If you’re keeping up with it via the web, a paper, or Teletext of course, then it’s merely one more crushing disappointment and a Mosley monogrammed nail in the coffin of F1. If you’ve paid good money to go and watch, then it’s infuriating beyond belief.

Fans shell out lots of money to attend GP “weekends” – and to have all the stars barely touching the circuit for a third of it because they don’t want to turn over their engines or use up any tyres, puts a big dent in your enjoyment, believe me.

Admittedly there are some cracking third drivers who do put some laps in – Davidson, Wurz, Kubica; though Alex has done a fair bit of showboating, throwing in some very cheeky low-fuel flyers for the hell of it despite Sam Michael saying that Williams don’t do that kind of thing… (It’s probably just fun for them to stick a finger up at BMW.)

The problem is that while third drivers can afford to properly ‘drive’ their cars on a Friday, anyone on the grid can barely afford to fire them up in case they damage them, lose performance, or wear them out.

The less laps the actual race drivers spend out there on Fridays, the less prepared they’ll obviously be (even with third drivers gathering data). And, as good as the third drivers are, fans want to see the stars. Harsh but true.

Often this season, about half the field barely turn a wheel in the 1st session, and don’t do much in the 2nd either. That’s shoddy – it really is. If the fans can be bothered to turn up, then the F1 circus should have the decency to put on a show.

Otherwise one of the hidden costs in Max’s engine cost-cutting may be yet more disgruntled fans walking away from a sport they love but can’t bear to see dismembered and destroyed.
Fridays may not be race days Max, but you ignore them at your peril.