F1 2024: Why is today's Saudi Grand Prix on a Saturday?

F1 2024: Why is today's Saudi Grand Prix on a Saturday?

Once again this afternoon, Formula 1 races on a Saturday.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, like the 2024 season opener in Bahrain, has been moved a day early before the rest of the season (bar the race in Las Vegas) resumes its normal format.

F1 weekends usually conclude with the race on a Sunday, however this year the start of the new season falls on a Saturday. Here’s why.

When do Formula One races usually take place?

Formula One weekends usually take place across three days, from Friday to Sunday.

The first two days are typically reserved for practice and then qualification, before the main race on Sunday.

Although this is seen as the traditional structure of the F1 season, it’s become more common for races to take place on other days in recent years.

This year, three Grands Prix will go ahead on Saturday instead.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Why is F1 2024 racing on a Saturday?

The holy month of Ramadan, a key religious holiday in the Muslim calendar, is set to take place from March 10 this year — a Sunday. People celebrating Ramadan are expected to fast for an entire month between sunrise and sunset and participate in daily prayer.

Given that races usually start on a Sunday, it means that next week’s official Saudi race would have collided with Ramadan.

As a result, F1 organisers brought the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix forward by a day to March 9.

However, that led to other complications as Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) regulations require a seven-day gap between each Grand Prix event.

To avoid having a shorter time frame following Bahrain, organisers brought the Bahrain Grand Prix forward to Saturday as well.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia aren’t the only two F1 races that’ll take place on a Saturday this year. The Las Vegas Grand Prix will also be held on November 23, which falls on a Saturday because of time differences around the world.

“We have found a solution so that European fans can watch the race with a cup of coffee at six or seven in the morning, just like it happens in the U.S. during the European races,” said Las Vegas GP CEO, Renee Wilm.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

British F1 drivers competing in 2024

Three drivers will be representing the UK in 2024.

This includes George Russell and Lewis Hamilton racing with Mercedes, with the latter set to leave Mercedes by 2025.

The other UK driver taking part in F1 2024 is 24-year-old Lando Norris, racing with McClaren.