Formula 1 is evaluating a change to its sprint race format under which they would no longer decide the starting grid for the grand prix.
The series introduced its sprint format last year. At sprint rounds qualifying is held on Friday, which sets the starting order for a 100 kilometre race on Saturday, which in turn decides the grid for the grand prix.
Several drivers have said the format does not produce good racing in the Saturday race because they know their finishing positions will set the starting order for the grand prix. This makes them reluctant to take risks.
F1 is understood to be in discussions with teams over whether making the sprint races stand-alone events – as they are in Formula 2 and Formula 3 – would create more excitement and action. No final decision has been taken but the option remains under consideration.
Max Verstappen said today sprint races have failed to generate the desired excitement because they set the starting order for the race. He said because of that drivers “don’t really race” in sprint events.
“I’m just not a big fan of it because I feel like we don’t really race,” said the world champion. “There are a few [championship] points that you get but you also know that you can’t really risk it because the main race is where you really get the points. You don’t do a pit stop so you just put on the tyre which will last the distance.”
F1 has already confirmed the number of sprint races will increase from three to six next year. It is in discussions with team over potential changes to the format, which could include severing the connection between a driver’s sprint race finishing position and where they start the grand prix.
Kevin Magnussen also believes this would improve the quality of sprint races.
“Max has a good point that the risk that you want to take in sprint is less because it decides the position for Sunday,” he said. “So I think maybe a good tweak could be to separate that, so you can go for it.”
Both drivers say the advantage of sprint events is it cuts down on the amount of practice drivers have before the grand prix.
“I do enjoy going from practice one straight into qualifying,” said Magnussen. “It puts a lot of pressure to find your rhythm quickly and get the set-up right. I feel like when there’s three practices it’s quite a lot, so I kind of like that.”
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