Explained: Why the first two F1 races in 2024 are being held on Saturdays

Henry Valantine
Bahrain F1 circuit by night.

Night at Bahrain F1 circuit.

The first two races of the F1 season in 2024 will be on a Saturday this year, with the rounds in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia having been brought forward by a day.

As a result, make sure to mark your calendars and prepare for free practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the races on Saturday March 2 and March 9 respectively.

Las Vegas also has its race on a Saturday night later in the season, but there’s a different reason behind the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian rounds taking place on a Saturday this year.

Why are the first two rounds of F1 2024 taking place on Saturdays?

The month of Ramadan is due to start on Sunday 10 March, with Formula 1 confirming that the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was brought forward by a day so it did not clash with the holy month of the Islamic faith.

With FIA regulations stipulating that there has to be a minimum of seven days between Grand Prix events, that led to a knock-on effect where the Bahrain Grand Prix was also brought forward by a day, to Saturday 2 March.

With the Las Vegas Grand Prix also occupying a late-night slot on a Saturday later in the season, that makes it three Saturday races on the F1 2024 calendar.

While Grand Prix events typically take place on a Sunday, Formula 1 has held dozens of races on other days of the week in the past, though Las Vegas last year was the first time F1 has broken from a Grand Prix Sunday for almost 40 years.

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What are the session times for the F1 Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grands Prix?

[All times local, GMT in brackets]

Bahrain Grand Prix

Thursday 29 February

FP1: 2.30pm-3.30pm [11.30am-12.30pm]
FP2: 6pm-7pm [3pm-4pm]

Friday 1 March

FP3: 3.30pm-4.30pm [12.30pm-1.30pm]
Qualifying: 7pm-8pm [4pm-5pm]

Saturday 2 March

Race: 6pm [3pm] [57 laps or 120 minutes]

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Thursday 7 March

FP1: 4.30pm-5.30pm [1.30pm-2.30pm]
FP2: 8pm-9pm [5pm-6pm]

Friday 8 March

FP3: 4.30pm-5.30pm [1.30pm-2.30pm]
Qualifying: 8pm-9pm [5pm-6pm]

Saturday 9 March

Race: 8pm [5pm] [50 laps or 120 minutes]

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