Williams head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, believes fan feedback will decide if the new sprint weekend format despite the change being met with widespread positivity in the paddock.
In a shakeup to the regular weekend schedule, F1 completed the first of three weekends that will run to a timetable at the British Grand Prix.
The changes saw qualifying moved to Friday evening with a 17 lap sprint on Saturday setting the final grid.
“Friday was really good, I enjoyed Friday," said Robson. "It was quite nice just getting straight into qualifying after that single practice session. Saturday, I think you’ve got to judge on what the fans thought really.
“For us, it felt like an awfully long time between FP2 and getting on with the sprint quali session. The sprint quali session itself was actually quite good.
“I thought it might have been…there was a risk it would have been less interesting than it was, but actually it was quite good racing I think and all the drivers seemed to get involved.
“So I think for the first go it has been pretty good I think to be honest. But the proof will be in what the fans and the TV viewers think I guess.”
FP2 running entertainment for trackside fans
Whilst qualifying and sprint provided entertainment and even the qualifying-focused Friday FP1 making for intriguing viewing, the hour-long FP2 with cars already in parc ferme conditions on Saturday had an odd feel to it.
Much like pre-season testing, the timesheets were worthless with fuel loads unknown as teams focussed on long runs with no incentive to set an eye-catching time.
“Although the cars are in parc ferme and there is not much that we can do other than change the front wing angle, it does at least give you a chance to understand how the tyres will behave and work out what your management plan for that will be both in the sprint quali session and the race," explained Robson.
“Actually, I was quite impressed by how much running the teams did in FP2.
"Again, I thought there was a risk people might think ‘The risk-reward is maybe not worth it and we won’t do too much,’ but actually, it was a busy session.
“I guess, particularly for the fans here, I think just watching the cars going around and doing that much work was probably pretty good.
“So we got a decent amount of information out of it. It’s expensive to run these cars so if we weren’t learning anything and getting something valuable out of it, probably we wouldn’t have done as much as we did or taken the risk.
“So that session was absolutely fine for us actually. The gap between the two sessions is long but it’s fine and I’ve got no problem with that.
“Again, if that is what makes the day work for everyone then that is absolutely fine, there are no issues.”
What do you think?
Clearly more exciting on a Friday and Saturday. But move pole position from Q3 to sprint qualifying Q4, race for pole position.
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