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Brawn: Keep an open mind on sprint races

NEWS STORY
28/04/2021

Ross Brawn calls on fans and drivers to keep an open mind in terms of sprint qualifying, the F1 MD admitting that if it doesn't work it will be dropped.

Despite getting the green light, fans remain unconvinced by Sprint Qualifying, which is set to make its debut at Silverstone in July.

Other than fears that it will continue to see the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull at the front, there is concern at how driver's hopes for Sunday's race might be affected by incidents earlier in the weekend.

While some welcome the idea, hoping that it will help mix things up a little on Sundays, others believe it is yet another gimmick, as the sport's owners continue to focus on a new, younger audience.

F1 MD, Ross Brawn insists it will be a great addition to race weekends, however, while calling on fans and drivers to keep an open mind, he admits that should it be felt sprint qualifying doesn't work the sport will be willing to hold its hands up and drop it.

"The thing to remember about Sprint Qualifying is that its intention is to expand the whole weekend," he told the sport's official website. "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," he adds. "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 practice session on Friday is fun but there is no conclusion to it. But on a Friday now, we'll have the excitement of the qualifying format."

"I think it will be a great addition," he insists. "There is unlikely to be pit stops, so it'll be a clean race. It'll be 30 mins roughly, 100km of action.

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

Ever since the idea was first proposed, other than fans, drivers and a number of teams were against the idea. However, with a agreement on compensation on any additional wear and tear or accident damage incurred by the extra race, the teams unanimously approved the proposal.

"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 main event," says Brawn.

"We had to find that balance. 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 put hands up and we will think again."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by trackrecords, 30/04/2021 10:42

"My worry is, in light of the Bottas/Russell Imola incident, what happens if a Sprint Qualifying accident results in a written-off chassis? Can the teams use a spare car or will the actual GP be one man down?"

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2. Posted by kenji, 28/04/2021 23:54

"@ Mellow Yellow.....A couple of points. Where did you get hold of a $4000 Ferrari? I can only presume that you are referring to 1970? ATM if the FIA/Liberty include three point scoring sprint races you will finish up getting a sprint race for the same price as a singular race. More racing can't be all bad. Times change....embrace it for what it is. If it works then fine...if not it will be discarded. What is there to lose?

@ Motorsport-fan....Regarding the WC outcome...what difference is there in the totality of the season? It's the same for all teams/drivers. It simply means that there are more points on offer for one season ATM. It has no bearing on future statistics. A bit like the points awarded for fastest lap. They just get folded in."

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3. Posted by mellow yellow, 28/04/2021 22:39

"This sprint edict/commandment takes no account of the fans who travel to attend a race. I have some relevant experience in 1970, 1975, 1979, 1984, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2003 and 2010. When I drove a $4,000 Ferrari 250 GT from Vail, Colorado, to Long Beach I wanted to see more at the track than just a race on Sunday. I wanted to see the cars and drivers in the pits and paddock; sadly that was sharply reduced from what it had been at Brands and Silverstone. But there were lots of teams giving it their practice and quali altogether. In the 1990's there was plenty of pre-qualifying action, which has been sadly missed. The growth of mega-bus travelling headquarters for the teams has meant that drivers are unlikely to be spotted by fans. Despite a decline in the in-person fan experience over the decades, there was a pit event where fans with binoculars could examine cars on Thursday, practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday, some sort of poseur support event for playboys with Ferraris or whatever. I don't recall an F2 race at the events I attended, but that would be a good thing and worthy. Point is, there were 3-1/2 days of racing experience for the fan with a ticket to enjoy. Now they want to reduce it even more. Baad FIA Greedy Liberty. Stupid teams."

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4. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 28/04/2021 11:14

"At seasons end what if one of these qualification races has effected the world championship outcome after it has been deemed not to have worked and canned?
If they want to spice up on track action, the Moto GP way of doing things seems a great way to try something else."

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5. Posted by Burton, 28/04/2021 9:56

"Thanks Ross for choosing this quali for us and telling us how to feel. Maybe you can choose my meals for the week next."

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6. Posted by Egalitarian, 28/04/2021 0:21

"I recall there was talk of driver suspension (as in not being able to drive... not zip-lining etc) after repeated mistakes causing damage to other vehicles etc. Even disqualification of a super licence.
Should there be a massive pile-up, as mentioned earlier, can we all agree that is an excellent approach to take towards Brawn and his cronies? Ban them for 6 months from taking any decisions? Maybe even ban them from being further involved in the destruction of F1?"

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7. Posted by kenji, 27/04/2021 23:52

"Hi F1 Yank....Thanks for the offer...What you say re 'other' racing I accept as I don't watch any domestic US racing apart from the odd Indycar race. Whilst I do have some minor reservations vis a vis the tyres and the possible problems arising from degradation of sets due to the 'sprint quali' thus leaving some teams with limited options...I do want to see just how it all works. When that has occurred I will pass my personal opinion on. Until then I am keeping an open mind. It's only for three races anyway....no biggie. It's possible I suppose that some mid field runners may put in some banzai laps during the SQ session and bank on having track position despite not having the fastest cars. I guess that there are many many different scenarios that could come into play. My greatest hope is that the status quo can be disrupted.....but I won't bet the sheep station on that happening!!!"

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8. Posted by ZJAY, 27/04/2021 23:16

"Please correct me if I am wrong. Usual qualifying on Friday. Of course sometimes teammates are not close to each other because of various reasons. Cannot have that. Come Saturday sprint race to iron things up. 4 top cars are Mercedes and Red Bull. Second four cars are McLaren and Ferrari. Last four cars are Williams and Hass. Great. Nothing changes on Sunday. Enjoy everyone. "

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9. Posted by F1 Yank, 27/04/2021 20:32

"I would have to agree in part with the two previous chaps. This is just a ploy to get the cars going "round the track" over and over, a buckshot approach for viewership. This is very similar to some of the strategies employed by Nascar. Look what they did to the super speedway races, now they are harder to watch and understand. And now I don't watch. Endre's historic recall of Senna brings back great memories. I would say that the setup "guessing game" could be fun, but to make it even more interesting, F1 should now eliminate race simulations and driver simulators. However this is not the essence of Formula One! In the end F1 has lost it's direction and Liberty is doing what it can to bring more viewership, this is a clear case of throwing something at the wall to see what sticks. Even Ross states if it doesn't work try again. "Hey Kenji! What do you think?""

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10. Posted by Endre, 27/04/2021 17:26

"The dumbest idea in the history of this sport. In addition to the many down sides people pointed out in comments under the first article, here are so more thoughts
1. How are people supposed to watch the Friday qualifying when most people are still at work?
2. What is the point of the Saturday practice when cars will be under Parc Ferme conditions and not allowed to change almost anything?
3. Basically cars will have only 60 minutes on the Friday to get the setup right, which turns this into a game of luck rather than talent what people want to see. It will also just add extra advantage to big teams with better simulation tools.

Back in the days a good driver who could give proper feedback to the mechanics and set up the car right, had the chance to perform better than expected even in a bad car (remember Senna in the Toleman at Monaco in 1984 or his later performances in a sub par Lotus?). How are drivers achieve anything these days when the cars have gotton more complicated and they only have 60 minutes to set them up???

It is a very sad direction F1 is going towards, fortunately we still have Moto GP."

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11. Posted by Roli, 27/04/2021 16:56

"Total waste of time/money/ tyres. If it works dont change it! I just cant see the point. Qualifying is being at the absolute limit. Just drop it before it ever begins!"

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