Why is F1 Saudi Arabian GP on Saturday in 2024?

Why are there three F1 races on Saturdays in 2024 and what is the format?

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For the first time this century, there will be three Saturday races on the Formula 1 calendar including the opening two events of the 2024 F1 season.

In 2023, the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix held the first Saturday race for 38 years and that will remain in 2024 when F1 visit Sin City on November 21-23.

But, the season-opening Bahrain GP on February 29 to March 2 will also see the main race held on a Saturday and this will happen again a week later at the Saudi Arabian GP in Jeddah.

This is due to the holy month of Ramadan, which takes place from Sunday March 10 to Tuesday April 9 in 2024, where Muslims around the world focus on fasting, prayer and reflection.

It means major sporting activities don’t happen during this time period, which is why the heavyweight boxing fight between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou is on Friday March 8 in Riyadh and will bring “Riyadh Season” to a close.

F1 2024 format with Saturday races

The typical Friday to Sunday on-track action of an F1 weekend will shift 24 hours earlier, so practice one and two will take place on Thursday, with final practice and qualifying on Friday.

The season-opening Bahrain GP will see lights out at 18:00 local (15:00 UK time) on Saturday, March 2 where Max Verstappen and Red Bull will begin the defence of his title.

DateSessionLocalUK (GMT)US (EDT)US (PDT)Aus (AEDT)
ThursdayPractice 114:3011:3006:3003:3022:30
ThursdayPractice 218:0015:0010:0007:0002:00*
FridayPractice 315:3012:3007:3004:3023:30
FridayQualifying19:0016:0011:0008:0003:00*
SaturdayGrand Prix18:0015:0010:0007:0002:00*
*Denotes next day

In order for the F1 circus to travel to Jeddah and have enough turnaround time, the teams will hope to be on the move from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia by Sunday night.

The same format as Bahrain will be repeated at the Saudi Arabian GP, with the main race itself on Saturday, March 9 with the race starting at 20:00 local (17:00 UK time). Media and press activities will take place on the Wednesday before each race.

DateSessionLocalUK (GMT)US (EDT)US (PDT)Aus (AEDT)
ThursdayPractice 116:3013:3008:3005:3000:30*
ThursdayPractice 220:0017:0012:0009:0004:00*
FridayPractice 316:3013:3008:3005:3000:30*
FridayQualifying20:0017:0012:0009:0004:00*
SaturdayGrand Prix20:0017:0012:0009:0004:00*
*Denotes next day

From the third round of the season at the Australian GP on March 22-24, the normal Friday to Sunday format will resume.

It won’t be until the Las Vegas GP, which is the third to last race of the season on November 21-23, when F1 will race on a Saturday again in 2024.

This is mainly due to the time zone difference as a Saturday night race in Las Vegas is Sunday morning for the UK and Europe. The Las Vegas GP will begin at 22:00 local on the Saturday, which is 06:00 in the UK on Sunday, or 07:00 in mainland Europe.

If Las Vegas used the normal F1 weekend schedule, the race would be on a Monday morning for those watching in UK and Europe when many people go to work or school.

Ocon goes through Turn 1 in the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix| Alpine Media

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is considered the holiest month for Muslims around the world. It is a time of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community for Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, abstaining from food, drink, smoking, and certain other physical needs.

The fast is broken each evening with a meal called iftar, often beginning with the consumption of dates and water, followed by a larger meal.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which are the core acts of worship and practices that all Muslims follow. The fast is intended to teach self-discipline, self-restraint, and empathy for those who are less fortunate, as well as to purify the soul and strengthen one’s connection to God (Allah).

Observing Ramadan also involves increased prayer and reading of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. Muslims believe that during Ramadan, the gates of heaven are open, and the gates of hell are closed, and that the devils are chained up. It is a time for spiritual growth, self-improvement, and seeking forgiveness for past sins.

Ramadan concludes with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a festival marking the end of the fasting month, which includes special prayers, feasting, and giving of charity to those in need.

John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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