Teams and drivers are gearing up for the longest season in F1’s history, with as many as 24 grands prix on the calendar.

But that’s not the only special thing about the 2024 season, as the year kicks off with two races on Saturday: the Bahrain (March 2) and Saudi Arabian (March 9) grands prix.

Why does the 2024 F1 season start on a Saturday?

The reason the 2024 Formula 1 season starts with two races on Saturdays is Ramadan, which starts on Sunday 10 March – the day the Saudi Arabia grand prix is ​​supposed to be held.

Because of the start of Ramadan, this race has been brought forward one day to be held on Saturday night. The reason that the season opener in Bahrain also takes place a week earlier on Saturday has to do with F1 rules, as the regulations stipulate that there must be at least a week between two races.

This forced the Bahrain season opener to be moved one day earlier as well, to accommodate for it.

Saudi Arabian GP action

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

What’s the schedule for the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia GPs?

As the first two races of the season are on a Saturday, the entire schedule has been brought forward by a day.

That means the two one-hour free practice sessions will be held on Thursday, while the third free practice and qualifying sessions will then take place on Friday.

In both cases, the first day of the weekend is entirely dedicated to the race.

Bahrain GP 2024 schedule

date session US start time
Thursday 29 February First free practice 6:30am ET
Thursday 29 February Second free practice 10am ET
Friday 1 March Third free practice 7:30am ET
Friday 1 March Qualifying 11am ET
Saturday 2 March Grand Prix 10am ET

Saudi Arabian GP 2024 schedule

date session US start time
Thursday 7 March First free practice 8:30am ET
Thursday 7 March Second free practice 12pm ET
Friday 8 March Third free practice 1:30pm ET
Friday 8 March Qualifying 12pm ET
Saturday 9 March Grand Prix 12pm ET

More F1 races on Saturdays in 2024

The Bahrain and Saudi Arabian grands prix aren’t the only two races in 2024 which will be held on a Saturday, as the Las Vegas Grand Prix on 24 November is also scheduled on a Saturday.

This is due to the significant time difference with Europe. In fact, the race takes place at 10pm local time – were it to happen on a Sunday, the race would start at 6am on Monday morning in the UK.

Many fans would then have to leave for work, which would result in poor viewing figures. It was therefore decided to bring the race forward a day to allow more F1 fans worldwide to switch on.

1985 South African GP action

1985 South African GP action

Photo by: Motorsport Images

When was the last time F1 raced on a Saturday?

F1 isn’t a stranger to not racing on a Sunday, although it’s not exactly common.

Just 75 F1 races have been held on days other than Sunday, with the most recent being 2023’s Las Vegas GP.

Before that though, you’d have to go back 38 years to the 1985 South African GP which was held on a Saturday.

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