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Fernando Alonso: Skip practice, go straight to qualifying in Formula 1

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso has ignited a debate that challenges the foundation of race weekend rituals: the elimination of practice sessions and diving head-first into qualifying.

Pedro de la Rosa, a respected figure within the motorsport community and Aston Martin ambassador, divulged Alonso's intriguing proposition on the F1 Nation podcast. 

According to de la Rosa, Alonso has expressed a preference for bypassing practice altogether, asserting that he doesn't require warm-up laps or additional sets of tires to unleash his maximum potential.

"Fernando, actually what he would like, is to go directly into qualifying," De la Rosa revealed. "He sometimes mentions it, he doesn't need to warm up. He doesn't need another set of tyres to go faster. 

"It's just 'bang', the first lap, that's it and that's the fastest he will be all weekend. He doesn't need to get up to speed."

This unconventional suggestion comes amidst the backdrop of Formula 1's experimentation with the Sprint format, which condenses the traditional race weekend schedule. In the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix, teams will navigate a condensed timeline featuring a single qualifying session before engaging in a series of rapid-fire qualifying sessions and races.

While some drivers have raised concerns about the reduced preparation time and its potential impact on race dynamics, De la Rosa views it as an opportunity for drivers to showcase their adaptability and raw talent.

"It's good for the drivers to adapt," he remarked. "To make sure they don't have too much time to change the car set-ups, to learn the tricks of the track. The sprint format always helps the best drivers to shine even more."

The Chinese Grand Prix marks the fifth instalment of the 2024 F1 season and heralds the onset of six Sprint weekends throughout the year. With just 60 minutes to acquaint themselves with the track before plunging into the Sprint qualifying session, drivers face a formidable challenge as they navigate the twists and turns of the 5.451-kilometre Shanghai International Circuit.

As Formula 1 continues to evolve and innovate, whether Alonso's vision becomes a reality remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the spirit of experimentation thrives within the heart of motorsport's elite.

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