Formula 1’s plan to trial three sprint races during its upcoming season – which starts in just 43 days’ time – is moving ahead at pace.
The F1 Commission agreed this week to form a working group to investigate a “new qualifying format”. As RaceFans revealed previously, Formula 1 favours introducing Saturday sprint races at three events – Montreal, Monza and Interlagos – to decide the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. The usual qualifying sessions would be held on Fridays at those rounds, and set the starting order for the sprint races.
Further details of the plan, such as whether points would be awarded and what tyre strategies would be permitted, are yet to be confirmed.
The FIA confirmed the plan this week, stating teams believe introducing an “even more exciting weekend format” is of “major importance [in] engaging fans”. But do fans agree?
Adding sprint races on Saturdays, and moving qualifying sessions forward to Fridays, will ensure each of the three days during an F1 race weekend has a focal point of interest.
The races themselves will add another point of interest to grand prix weekends including the drama of a standing start and the possibility of mixing up the grid ahead of Sunday’s main event. If they turn out not to be a success, F1 may not continue their use in 2022.
Besides being a needless break with decades of F1 heritage, sprint races would detract from the main event of a race weekend: the grand prix. They would most likely serve to making the starting grid for the grand prix more similar to a race result than a qualifying session, making Sunday’s event more processional.
If points are awarded for sprint races they could serve to increase the advantage of a dominant team and lead to the championship being decided earlier in the year.
The essentials of Formula 1’s race format – fastest lap times decide the grid for a single race – have been virtually unchanged throughout its 72-year history. This proposal would sever that link to the past.
If you’re going to make that kind of break with the sport’s heritage, you should have a good reason for it. This isn’t it. It’s clear the motivation for introducing sprint races is entirely financial – they haven’t decided how they will work, but they have decided they want them.
As I wrote earlier this week, it’s hard to see how sprint races would enhance the competition unless the rule-makers resort to some gimmick like the (thankfully abandoned) reverse grids scheme to mix things up.
As has been pointed out countless times before – including by several drivers – Formula 1’s new technical regulations for next season have been meticulously researched to deliver the improved racing action and better championship competition which is desired by so many. Reading the initial feedback from readers to the sprint races idea earlier this week, I saw the same sentiment expressed many times, and found myself wishing those running the sport had the same patience and confidence in the quality of its product many of its fans do.
Do you want to see Formula 1’s trial of sprint races go ahead this year? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.
Do you agree Formula 1 should trial sprint races this year?
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