Brawn: Keep an open mind on sprint races

28/04/2021
NEWS STORY

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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Published: 28/04/2021
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