I often hear the F1 commentators on television talk about how the teams have a free practice “program” that they try to stick to during the sessions. I imagine that the teams run slightly similar “programs” to each other. We know they test tyre life and setup changes and how fast they can go… but i’m wondering if anyone knows what these “program” schedules might actually look like from session to session?
I imagine that the most basic program would look something similar to this:
FP1: Focusing on understanding the tyres for the weekend, and maybe a little bit of setup work to get a good starting point for the rest of the weekend.
FP2: I reckon, based on what I’ve seen, this would be more to do with race simulations and gathering data for how more fuel will effect their performance and again, more tyre work. Could also be running aero tests if they have brought upgrades, having probably gained some good info from FP1 to compare it to.
FP3: As it’s the session closest to quali, this would be more light fuel, quali-run simulations, alongside more of the same from the rest of the weekend.
As I said, it’s quite basic, and probably not as in-depth as you might have liked, but it will differ from team to team and weekend to weekend, depending on how they’ve been performing, what they think their problems are and if they have brought any updates. A team like Mercedes last year would have spent a lot of time looking at setup changes and anything they could do to extrapolate better tyre-life, whereas Ferrari would have been running a lot of aero testing, to better correlate the data from on-track to their wind-tunnel.
It also depends how much running they are able to get in. If, for some reason, they miss FP1, then it will compromise their schedule and what they do in the remaining sessions.