F1 drivers still not too keen for sprint weekends in general but are fine to compete at few rounds, as some go back to ‘reverse grid’ suggestion.
Having had three sprint F1 weekends until 2022, the FIA decided to stage them for six rounds in 2023 with this weekend’s Brazil GP hosting the last of it. As was the case earlier, there is still mixed feelings regarding sprint race weekends.
The latest highlight came at Austin where the bumpy nature of the circuit left Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc disqualified due to plank wear. Since F1 teams get only one practice session, there is a lot of gamble to see-through the weekend without issues.
In their findings, the sprint weekend did play a role as they couldn’t rightly ascertain the potential ride height trouble. Even outside of that, many are concerned that the mini race in one or the other suggests how the main F1 grand prix will look like.
And so the mixed opinions continue around the sprint weekends. But one thing is certain that none of the F1 teams or drivers would want it to happen for the whole season. Also, the likes of Hamilton and Carlos Sainz brought back the reverse order topic again.
Here’s what the F1 drivers said –
Daniel Ricciardo: “I think, yeah, I’ve done four. Spa was a sprint? I think yeah, then Austin. So, out of now, which will be my fifth race, three of them have been Sprints. So I’m like a Sprint veteran! I liked some of them. I think there’s room for a few of them across the calendar. It does change it up a little bit. I still, like, prefer a conventional weekend. You know, if it’s one or the other I’d take the conventional. But, look, if we have obviously in a season of 23-24 races, if half a dozen of them are Sprint, I think yeah, it adds a little bit of spice. But I wouldn’t want to go down, say, the MotoGP route and have it every weekend.”
Max Verstappen (in sarcasm): “Yeah, it’s been absolutely fantastic. So much fun. I get so excited by having a Sprint again. I’m all for it.”
Lance Stroll: “I mean, yeah, I don’t mind them. I think it’s exciting every time you get in the car, you know, there’s something to fight for. And yeah, more action for everyone kind of watching back home too. Sometimes I kind of felt like last week, you know, after having the Sprint in Austin and then going to Mexico and kind of having that, you know, more normal weekend, I felt like there was a lot of practice and just, you know, Friday was a long day and Austin was kind of just full-on, you know, every session just, like I said, something, something to fight for. And yeah, I think it was a much more kind-of exciting weekend than Mexico. So, I definitely think it, you know, spices things up and makes it, yeah, interesting for everyone watching at home.”
Lando Norris: “I’m in the middle. I’ve always liked the normal race weekend, to be honest. So, if I could just choose, I just go back to having that. But the reason is for the fans and to put on more of a show and things like that. I like the challenge of just FP1-Qualifying. I think it’s better. I think it’s, for me, more enjoyable, more of a challenge for the engineers and for us as drivers. So, if we just had FP1-Qualifying and a main race, you know, Saturday-Sunday, there’ll be nice. Two days. So yeah, I think that’s maybe the only thing, but it’s not my choice, so doesn’t matter.”
Valtteri Bottas: “I like the Sprint always. I’ve never been a big fan of three practice sessions. I prefer to have one and then straight to action so that’s the nice side of a Sprint weekend. Obviously there’s always things that could be changed. For example, for us as a team at the moment, unfortunately it is only the top eight that can score in the sprint so most often it’s a bit of a long shot at the moment for us, which is not ideal but of course it’s depends on which car you are. But other than that, I’m more than happy to do a sprint.”
Logan Sargeant: “For me, it’s not preferred. I think one, as a rookie, it’s nice to have the three practice sessions. But on top of that, I just feel like Saturday is a bit of a standalone day that doesn’t offer a whole lot, as Valtteri said, if you’re not in the top eight. So I prefer a normal weekend.”
Charles Leclerc: “I quite like it. I like the fact of having only one free practice session. I don’t think we should have more than six Sprint weekends in a year. I think six is good. But to have one free practice and go straight to qualifying is something I enjoy. I think the Saturday could be changed and improved but I really like the Friday, to not have three free practice sessions is really long and sometimes it can get a bit boring. We always go through the same programme. So I like the fact of having only one free practice and go straight to the action with qualifying.”
Lewis Hamilton: “Yeah, I feel pretty much the same as these guys. Saturday’s not the greatest of days, but I like the single practice session straight into qualifying. I think we can learn. I love that we do have a different format, rather than just the same three practice sessions and then the qualifying and the race. But the best Sprint race I ever had was when I started last and so I’m in favour of the reverse order, except if we had that then everyone will just try and qualify last! But I think it maybe should be a little bit longer the Sprint race because it’s something like 19 laps or something.”
Carlos Sainz: “Yeah I wouldn’t mind. I think right now, I agree that six is enough. I agree that Saturday’s too revealing of what’s going to happen on Sunday. It is basically the first stint of the race of Sunday, what you’re watching on TV, and this doesn’t help, I think, the show for the main race that is the Grand Prix. So you arrive to the point, you’d better try something else on Saturday. Is that reverse grids? Is that single lap qualifying? Is that… whatever, I don’t know. But I think given that the Sprint format is a bit of an experiment going on right now in Formula 1, I would be open to keep experimenting to see which format is best because for me the one we have now, just Saturday, doesn’t feel completely right for what then comes on Sunday.”
Sergio Perez: “I’d like more the previous way, how they were before, where what was qualifying and sprint and then the race, because I feel now that the sprint is a little bit in the limbo, left alone. And just having one practice is just very difficult for the teams to set the setup for that. And it can go wrong very quickly. If I were incharge, I would just keep the standard format. I think we have a great format. No need to do the sprint events at all. I don’t think, drivers or teams, there are many fans out there of this format.”
Here’s what F1 drivers involved said regarding wild rumours
Here’s F1 Brazil GP details
Here’s link to a F1 Discord channel, join in to interact