F1 team bosses talk about the current discussions around the sprint weekends after the last meet held during Abu Dhabi GP.
The F1 Commission shared results of their last meet in Abu Dhabi GP, where fine tuning of sprint weekend was a major topic. The happenings in US GP raised concerns regarding teams having to adjust to the situation especially with parc ferme kicking in early.
There were discussions around separate parc ferme timings which will be further checked to secure a final decision. The six weekends in F1 2023 was so-so eventually and for 2024, the number of sprint weekends should remain the same at six.
But the format is still up in the air even though not much is likely to be changed. Reverse grids topic remains in fray but seems unlikely as F1 team bosses wants a consistent format for long-term rather than changes made after every season.
Here’s what some of the F1 team bosses said –
Christian Horner: “I think it’s clear that the Sprints need to evolve a bit, in that I can understand the concept and it being action on all three days, which for the promoter and for the fans has an interest but I think the Sprints, in some cases, have been slightly underwhelming. There’s no pit-stop; it’s tends to stay in grid order and it’s a little bit like getting a medal for a long run. But I think if there can be a bit more perhaps, racing introduced, but then of course, you’ve got to look at what are the consequences with that: if you were to reverse the grid; if there were points involved, etc, etc. So, I think it needs a bit more work doing on it within the sporting forum. And then no doubt, we’ll sit down at the next Commission meeting early in the new year and hopefully finalise a format. This is where you’ve got to do the research.
“I think it’s very important that the next step that we make is one that is fixed for a long period of time. This Sprint concept is a new concept that’s been introduced. And in some areas it’s very popular and with some traditionalists, it’s very unpopular. And I think that whatever it evolves to needs to be consistent for a long period of time. And, so I think the necessary research – and I think the fan feedback is going to play a crucial role in this, in terms of what is it actually that the audience want? Do they actually enjoy the Sprint format as it is? Or do they actually want to see a bit more racing if we’re going to do a Sprint race? And if so, if we’re going to do that, then how do we award the points? How do we incentivise drivers and teams? So there are many topics attached to it. But the most important fundamental thing is, what do the fans want?”
Andrea Stella: “We think that some tuning in the sequence of the sessions, and some changes when it comes to the parc fermé rules is the right direction. We don’t think that there should be some dramatic changes in the execution of the Sprint race. And yeah, so that’s our position. I think there is positive, there are positives in the Sprint events. They are confirmed even from the data that F1 circulated. We also need to give the time to absorb some different ways of interpreting Formula 1 race weekends. And we need to make sure that we don’t change too often, too rapidly, because then we wouldn’t have this time to adapt, absorb to a certain way in which we intend a Formula 1 race weekend. And this is why we think that while improvements have to be made, they should be relatively incremental, have a few more Sprint races, and then we can have better data, better information to see in which direction the business of Formula 1 should go.”
Mike Krack: “Yeah, I fully agree on what Christian and Andrea just mentioned – not shooting too quickly after a couple of races, small changes, or small adjustments, step by step. I think the sequence of sessions is already a change that we have to see how it pans out. It will have also other consequences or other implications. And then the most important, and that is a point that Christian made, which I think is very, very important is what do the fans want? Because we do it for them. And this has to be taken carefully into consideration. But also, when doing changes, think about the implications and not trying to fix something again two races later.”
Guenther Steiner: “I think there was a lot of things discussed and I don’t like to go into any detail what was discussed, but there is some ideas around and now there will be some work done on what is feasible and what not. But what you just said, it’s one of quite a few ideas which is thrown out there. I think we just have to wait and see where we end up with by seeing what we’re going to do. But I think the Sprint weekend was very successful, the Sprint races in general for the sport. The viewership is up, people like it but you always try to make it better because it’s not perfect yet.
“And I think as long as we keep on moving along and making things better and trying new things, I think we are on the right track. And also not being afraid to make changes but also not being afraid if the changes don’t work to go back again, or do something, go in another direction. And I think that is what we’re doing at the moment and I think it’s good for the sport, because the sport is growing massively. The audience is maybe a different one than it was 20 years ago. People want more entertainment, want more action and we need to provide that, to keep on growing as a sport, and growing as a sport is good for all of us.”
Franz Tost: “Yeah, regarding the Sprint weekend, the only point I requested was that 30 minutes should be added to the FP1 session because if you have a rookie in your team, just to have one hour and then go directly to the qualifying, most often on new racetracks, it’s really a big disadvantage. And I think, for the future teams, will really very well calculate whether to take a rookie driver or not. We will see then whether this can be realised or not and the rest, Guenther anyway said everything.”
Bruno Famin: “Yeah, not much to add. We all think that we were happy with the sprint race concept, not at every race of course but a few in within the season. As Guenther said, we need to make some fine tuning. We can change the sequence, you can change something to optimise everything, to have the best entertainment for the fans, not to make the life too complicated for the teams. One of the things I think which will be amended as well is together with the change of the sequence, if any, is the rule for the parc ferme, to make the team’s lives a bit easier.”
Here’s reported news on Toto Wolff’s conflict
Here’s FIA alerting F1 fans
Here’s F1 Commission meet details
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