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F1 'will put hands up and think again' if sprint qualifying fails

F1 'will put hands up and think again' if sprint qualifying fails

F1 News

F1 'will put hands up and think again' if sprint qualifying fails

F1 'will put hands up and think again' if sprint qualifying fails

Ross Brawn has confirmed F1 will return to the drawing board if its sprint qualifying format fails to work this season.

In a bid to spice up the weekend, sprint qualifying will be trialled at three grands prix - Silverstone, Monza, and Interlagos, the latter pending ongoing Covid-19 concerns.

Despite initial reticence from a number of drivers when the idea was first mooted, and worries from the teams at the additional cost implications, the F1 Commission voted unanimously to at least run the rule over the additional 100-kilometre event.

It is F1's latest attempt to add a new element to the weekend after its failed bid last year to introduce reverse grid races.

"The thing to remember about sprint qualifying is that its intention is to expand the whole weekend," said F1 managing director motorsports Brawn. "It is not intended to impact the race event. The grand prix is still the vital event of the weekend.

"We want to give fans engagement throughout the whole weekend. Sunday’s grand prix is fantastic, and we don’t want to cannibalise that, but we want to lift up the engagement on a Friday and a Saturday.

"Friday is really for the aficionados at the moment. Watching a practice session on Friday is fun but there is no conclusion to it. But on a Friday now [at the three grands prix], we’ll have the excitement of the qualifying format.

"I think it will be a great addition. There is unlikely to be pit stops, so it’ll be a clean race. It’ll be 30 minutes roughly, 100 kilometres of action.

"We want to see how fans engage with it and if the short format is appealing, it’s complimentary if it works with the main race. We feel it will. We feel it’s going to be very exciting."

It is understood Liberty Media has agreed on a financial package with the teams at a time when they are working under the new cost cap and with an eye on developing the 2022 car that will operate under radically different regulations.

Brawn will also wait on feedback from the drivers as to whether they also feel the idea is worth pursuing long term.

"One of the challenges was finding a format that had the right balance between giving us an opportunity to have exciting Friday and Saturday running – perhaps a shorter format race but one which did not take anything away from the main event," added Brawn.

"Everyone had a different opinion on what that should look like. It was also about finding an economic and logistical solution that didn’t impact teams too severely.

"They want this event, but they are all working under massive challenges and we had to find a solution that worked with them without compromising the event.

"The drivers are open-minded about the format, and that’s all we ask, that the drivers keep an open mind so we can evaluate this event and then we decide if in the future it forms a feature of the F1 season.

"If it doesn’t work, we will put our hands up and we will think again."

Should the green light be given for sprint qualifying to be introduced next season, Brawn has confirmed it will only be at a number of the 23-race calendar, with the likes of Monaco potentially excluded.

“I’m not sure this format would be as successful at Monaco,” assessed Brawn.

“We’re considering these weekends being 'grand slam' events, spread through the season, so it is something different.

“I don’t think it’ll go to the whole season, I think it’ll be a limited number of races, but that is to be decided.”

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