Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has described plans to experiment with Saturday sprint races as 'controversial' but a necessary experiment from Formula 1.
In a bid to increase ticket sales and boost viewing figures, F1 has been looking at ways to improve the spectacle of the sport by making changes to the well-rehearsed weekend format.
The planned changes would see qualifying move to the slot currently occupied by second practice on Friday, with a sprint race taking the vacant position created by the move on a Saturday.
The Canadian, Italian and Brazilian Grand Prix weekends have been earmarked as the races at which F1 will trial the new format this year but, although the plans have been viewed positively by teams, the final green light is yet to be given.
“The sprint races are an interesting format in my opinion, and an experiment which I believe we need to do," said Wolff.
“I have seen in other racing series – DTM – that the audience almost doubled when having a Saturday and Sunday race and that obviously can be monetised.
“I think if we are to do this without some interference to create a fake show, it has merit to try it.
“I’m not sure we will like the outcome because qualifying, how we have it today, is a real qualifying, and a sprint race always bears the risk of damage which can be costly and obviously has a huge impact on Sunday’s grid and Sunday’s ability to perform.
“For sure, it is going to create controversy too, but giving it a try for three races in 2021, in the right framework, we would be up for it.”
Although keen to trial sprint races, Wolff reiterated his view that F1 cannot sacrifice sporting integrity in the name of entertainment and again voiced his opposition to previous plans to hold reverse grid races.
“Reverse grids have no place in any sport that is based on measuring and competing in the true sense of sport," added Wolff.
"We are entertainment, but the moment you slide into show and Hollywood, you will lose a lot of credibility as a sport overall.
"So not every decision that aims to increase the entertainment factor is right for Formula 1.
"It always needs to be balanced between the DNA of true sport – the best man and best machine win – and what the fans like to see."
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