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today is May 30, 2023

Formula 1 fans may get to see more racing laps on weekends featuring sprint races, but Lewis Hamilton has pointed out the new format features less track running.

The FIA and F1 heavily revised the schedule just days before the first sprint event of the season at last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Friday’s second practice session was dropped and qualifying – which usually takes place on Saturday afternoon – took its place. The third practice session on Saturday was replaced by a new, shorter qualifying session to set the grid for the sprint race later that day.

Hamilton said he “generally likes the point” of Saturday sprint race events, but believes they are have some drawbacks. “I think there’s a lot of time wasted on the weekends, so I think we could do it in a shorter amount of days.”

Speaking on Saturday after the first sprint race of the year, Hamilton said: “You could still do three days, but I think the teams get here way early like Monday or Tuesday, and I got here on Wednesday. There’s four hours waiting between sessions today, today we could have done at least three sessions.

“We can do three sessions each day. There was so much time to [use] during this day. I don’t know if that’s possible with all the other formulas that are going on.”

Hamilton welcomed the move to hold an additional qualifying session specifically for the sprint race. “I like qualifying so it was pretty cool to have a second qualifying.”

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His Mercedes team mate George Russell, who is the director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, also praised the changes but saw room for improvement.

“We [the GPDA] weren’t necessarily pushing for this,” he said. “We were open to it, open to change, and, I’m not against it.”

Russell would like to see teams given more opportunities to adjust their car set-ups under the format. At present teams are locked into the set-ups they use from the start of qualifying on Saturday afternoon. If they choose to make any changes they must start the race from the pit lane, as Esteban Ocon snd Nico Hulkenberg did.

“I think it would be nice if the teams were allowed to make a set-up change, perhaps on a Friday night,” said Russell. “It was a shame that you’ve got all these until it engineers here and you’re just locked in after one practice session. I hope it doesn’t take any excitement away from Sundays. I think the best people to judge are the fans at home, how they feel.

“But I mean, from a driver’s perspective, it’s quite fun. You’re going out there, you’re racing more, [doing] more competitive laps. We don’t enjoy just tooting around in practice and testing. But as I said, I just hope it doesn’t take too much away from Sundays.”

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