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Sprint races "make no sense", says Vettel

NEWS STORY
05/03/2021

Ever the purist, Aston Martin driver, Sebastian Vettel admits that he is against the idea of sprint races.

In the past, the German has made no secret of his desire to return to the good old days, be it environmentally unfriendly V10s and V12s or circuits no longer considered "safe".

Therefore it comes as no surprise to learn that at a time some are softening their attitude towards F1's plan to introduce sprint races to decide Sunday's grid, the four-time world champion is against the proposal.

"I don't like it," he admitted. "Why would you have a pre-final to a final? What's the point of that? I don't understand it," he added.

"If there is a race on Saturday then I will have to take part because I still want to drive on Sunday but in my point of view it makes no sense."

Of course, the proposal is part of the sport's plan - under Liberty Media's ownership - to spice things up, especially after failing to convince with its plan for reverse grids.

Vettel believes that the drive for such gimmicks is indicative of a bigger issue facing the sport.

"You have the grand prix and it has always been around 300 kilometres and the main challenge of the weekend,” said the German. "I think if you have to introduce something like this, then there is something else that you need to fix other than the format, or another race, or another two minutes, or a Q4 or Q5, or whatever it is.

"Maybe it's shifting or taking the focus away from the real problem," he added. "It's more of a patch rather than a fix.”

At last month's meeting of the F1 Commission it was announced that a working group was to be set up to investigate the proposal.

"We've seen a proposal, which I think most teams were in favour of examining," said Aston Martin technical director, Andrew Green, "but the devil is in the detail. And the detail hasn't been thrashed out yet.

"There are lots of discussion points and areas that need looking at," he admitted, "the changing of the car between events, how much are you allowed to change?

"And more importantly, what happens to the power unit allocation? The engines have been designed and signed off for a certain type of season and then to go away from that from a power unit perspective is going to be quite a challenge."

Red Bull drivers, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have admitted apprehension at the plan, while Daniel Ricciardo fears the sprint race could dilute the worth of the main event.

However, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff appears to be one of those warming to the idea.

"Sprint races are an interesting format in my opinion," said the Austrian this week, "and an experiment which I believe we need to do.

"I've seen in other racing series, like DTM, that the audience almost doubled with having a Saturday and Sunday race," he added, "and that obviously can be monetised.

"I think if we were to do this without some interference to create a fake show, then there is merit to try it. I'm not sure we will like the outcome, because qualifying as we have it today is a real qualifying and a sprint race always bears the risk of damage which can be costly and a huge impact on Sunday's grid and the 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 will be up for it."

However, Wolff is adamant that it will only work if the grid for the sprint race is decided by a 'traditional' qualifying session as opposed to a lottery-style system based on reversing the grid based on the world championship order, a move his team blocked last year.

"Reverse grids have no place in any sport that is based on measuring and competing in the true sense of sport," he insisted. "We are entertainment, but the moment we slide into show and Hollywood, you will lose a lot of credibility as a sport overall.

"Not every decision that increases the entertainment factor is right for Formula 1," he admitted. "It always needs to be balanced between the DNA of true sport, best man and machine wins, and what the fans would like to see."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by C5, 05/03/2021 18:45

"All well said, Sebastian!

Qualifying works, don't mess with it.

As for engines, I admit to have long belonged to the camp believing engines should evolve and be technologically relevant to the times - albeit with a LOT looser regulation on what you can go (basically a "this is the energy allowance you get, see what you can do to make the most of it without using extreme exotic materials" engine rule set).

Gradually, however, I'm coming around to the fact that F1 is more and more like horse racing, in the sense that it is entertaining for those who care about horses (which I don't) but have very little relevance on anything else. So as all other categories rightfully pursues standards that are up with the times, maybe the future of F1 is to not do that.

Definitely, it would be interesting to see how a modern F1 operations would interpret a high displacement, no force feed, no electric motor assistance, no energy recovery regulation.

Heck, if we instead gradually put some parameters on the fuel allowed - has to be liquid, has to be synthetic (i.e. no dino products), cannot be overly toxic and has to be bio degradable - they might even end up inventing something useful in the process?
"

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2. Posted by flyinglap, 05/03/2021 13:34

"@ Editor; Thank you sir, much appreciated. And thank you for providing us with this great website. "

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3. Posted by Editor, 05/03/2021 13:02

"@ flyinglap

Great post"

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4. Posted by Egalitarian, 05/03/2021 1:42

"I'm with Seb on this. Qualifying definitely, but no points for qualifying. The race is the race and is what the contest is about.
And allow any of the available tyres your car performs best on. Even the same compound for the entire race. No mandatory pit-stops.
If the end is nigh for the ICE, let's just go for it and finish F1 with a bunch of screaming V10s or V12s for the last 5 years. I suspect the transport of the cars around the globe uses more fuel than the entire grid's season anyway.
Enough with the engine and gearbox limitations. As alluded to below, these cars are supposed to be on the edge. We already have endurance championships.
And finally, a big thumbs up for flyinglap. You sound like someone who really understands what goes on inside the garage and factories. Well said."

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5. Posted by flyinglap, 04/03/2021 21:28

"Finally, some common sense. It takes an authoritative, intelligent 4-time World Champion to point out what the marketing and media people fail to grasp in their blind pursuit of numbers and bonuses while trying to justify their hefty pay by inventing the next gimmick. For those who forget, this is not just motorsport, this is Grand Prix racing, the Formula 1 World Championship. Meaning the pinnacle of motorsport. Every race is like a Grand Slam final, it is like a World Cup final, it is sweat and tears, it is high drama, and we are lucky to get some 20 of those each year. You cannot trivialize that, you cannot reduce it to Grand Prix Light for Saturday and then have Grand Prix Full Flavor the day after. Grands Prix are supposed to be punishing affairs, testing the physical limits of man and machine alike. How do you justify then that drivers will be performing them matter-of-factly, day in day out as if it were nothing? What will be the "value" of a victory on a Saturday? How will it compare to a victory on a Sunday? Already the point system is a joke with half of the grid scoring points at every race. It once was points only for the first six, and it was damn difficult to score points. And finishing second was really considered being the first of the losers, but now a podium is cause for jubilation. As for qualifying it must be preserved as the ultimate expression of speed, in the sense that was intended by the likes of Ayrton Senna, to name but one of the greatest of our sport. Qualifying is not merely a means for determining the starting order for the race, nor is it performed for "the show". Show business is a different line of business, it is not motorsport. You can make show business out of motorsport, but motorsport must remain pure in order to be a credible base for show business. Otherwise there will be neither motorsport nor show business (and no money for the people that orbit around it). I do hope that eventually we will be spared this, but on the other hand everything is to be expected."

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6. Posted by Rock Doc, 04/03/2021 17:32

"Why have qualifying at all. Have the drivers line up in the same order as they finished the previous race. For the start of the season base the grid for the first race on the previous years championship. Any new comers go to the back.

You could throw in a sprint race on the saturday to double your money and keep the same idea going"

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7. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 04/03/2021 17:24

"I'm with Seb. If this is "needed" then it's just a bandaid covering a festering wound, and at best will disguise the problem for a little while. "

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8. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 04/03/2021 16:31

"How about points for Qualifying? How about optional refueling? Those two alone will spice up the show. "

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