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New qualifying format expected for 2004 06 Oct 2003

The 2004 Formula One season is expected to see more changes to the grand prix weekend schedule. The proposed revisions, which were agreed by the team bosses on Friday, still require the approval of the FIA's World Motorsport Council, which is due to meet later this month.

Under the proposals, Friday morning's private test session and first qualifying will be scrapped. Instead the opening day of the weekend will comprise two free practice sessions, with the lower teams expected to be allowed to run a third car.

Saturday morning's two practice sessions will continue, before a new, expanded qualifying session (effectively the current Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions back to back) in the afternoon, in which each driver will get two separate timed laps. The starting order for the first lap will be determined by the results of the previous race. The order for the second lap will be governed by the first lap times, with the slowest driver going first.

The revised Friday and Saturday timetable is expected to be accompanied by stricter controls on testing. Minardi boss Paul Stoddart told news agency Reuters that all teams would be limited to 48 days testing during the season, with no restrictions once it is over.