When it comes to practice and qualifying, the aim of both is ideally to set the fastest lap time possible in order to start higher up the grid, of course! However, if you’re taking part in one of your first official sessions, getting a feel for the car and the circuit and building up your confidence should be your main priority. Once you have these and have a few sessions under your belt, then you can start to push for consistency and speed.
When it is time to get ready for your next session, you will hear an announcement over the pit lane and paddock PA system calling for all cars from your championship to head to the assembly area. Be sure to keep an ear out for these announcements as depending on how the weekend is running so far in terms of keeping to the timetable, you may be running either behind or ahead of schedule. You should make sure you’re ready to head to the assembly area as soon as you hear the call.
When heading to assembly, you will be directed where to go and where to park your car by the marshals. Remember, if you haven’t had your car noise tested yet, this is where it will happen so be prepared. When it’s almost time to head out on track, the marshals in the area will call for all drivers to be in their cars ready to go. You must make sure all of your racing gear is on and secured correctly and that you’re firmly strapped into your race seat in the car. Once the marshal at the exit gives the signal, you’ll most likely head down the pit lane where you’ll wait for a green flag where your session will start.
Usually, qualifying sessions will last either 15 or 20 minutes depending on the championship and the timetable in some cases. You must complete at least three laps in order to successfully qualify for a race. Sometimes a car problem, a mistake that puts you off the track or an incident will prevent you from completing three laps within the session. If this happens and you’re able to ensure your car is still race worthy, generally you will be allowed to complete your laps during the lunch break when track activity has temporarily ceased. Sometimes, you may also be allowed to take part in another championship’s qualifying session, provided this has been permitted by the clerk of the course.
Once the session has come to an end, you’ll be directed into the pit lane and straight into parc ferme, where you are not allowed to do anything to your car until you’re allowed to leave and head back to your garage or paddock space. You’ll then be able to pick up a copy of the timing results from race admin or from your co-ordinator to find out where you placed in the session against everyone else.