F1 Managing director Ross Brawn insists Grand Prix’s remain vital to race weekends after the introduction of sprint races, and says they will be a “great” addition.
F1’s ‘sprint qualifying’ system, due to be introduced for a trial run at three rounds in 2021, has drawn criticism from some who see it as a gimmick which adds little to the sport, but it has also been applauded by others who argue the change is refreshing.
Among concerns raised is that the 100 km race on Saturday could dilute the value of Sunday’s Grand Prix – the main attraction of an F1 weekend. But Brawn says the sprint races are intended solely to “expand” the race weekend.
Therefore, the Brit adds, Sunday’s race remains equally valuable. “The thing to remember about Sprint Qualifying is that it’s intention is to expand the whole weekend,” he said to F1 website. “It is not intended to impact the race event. The Grand Prix is still the vital event of the weekend.
“We want to give fans engagement throughout the whole weekend. Sunday’s Grand Prix is fantastic, and we don’t want to cannibalize that, but we want to lift up the engagement on a Friday and a Saturday,” said Brawn.
The 66-year-old believes sprint races have the potential to bring new life to Fridays, when a standard Qualifying format will set the grid for Saturday’s sprint race. “Watching a practice session on Friday is fun but there is no conclusion to it,” said Brawn. “But on a Friday now [at these selected events], we’ll have the excitement of the qualifying format.
“I think it will be a great addition. There is unlikely to be pit stops, so it’ll be a clean race. It’ll be 30 mins roughly, 100km of action. We want to see how fans engage with it and if the short format is appealing, it’s complimentary and if it works with the main race. We feel it will. We feel it’s going to be very exciting,” he summed up.
Brawn explains it was difficult to land on a format that had the “right balance” of excitement between Friday and Saturday, and expresses gratitude that teams and drivers remain open-minded and accepting of this experimental format.
“Everyone had a different opinion on what that should look like,” said Brawn. “It was also about finding an economic and logistical solution that didn’t impact teams too severely. They want this event, but they are all working under massive challenges and we had to find a solution that worked with them without compromising the event.
“The drivers are open minded about the format – and that’s all we ask, that the drivers keep an open mind so we can evaluate this event and then we decide if in the future it forms a feature of the F1 season. If it doesn’t work, we put hands up and we will think again.”
Among the F1 tracks which has been speculated largely to host the races are Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos – the release, though, did not confirm the circuits. It only mentioned two European and one non-European venue, which will be revealed later.
Brawn stressed that if this is successful, they will still not use it for whole season in future, it will always be in limited capacity, as he ruled out a track like Monaco being used at any time. “I’m not sure this format would be as successful at Monaco.
“We’re considering these weekends being Grand Slam events, spread through the season, so it is something different. I don’t think it’ll go to the whole season, I think it’ll be a limited number of races, but that is to be decided,” summed up Brawn.
Here’s news and initial details on F1 Sprint Qualifying