Teams agree on revised Sprint weekend format


Weeks ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, which features the first Sprint of the year, the teams have agreed on the format.

In one fell swoop Stefano Domenicali and his F1 bosses get their way, reducing practice to a bare minimum (one hour) as - as previously reported - there will be just one practice session on Friday morning with qualifying for Sunday's race in the afternoon.

Saturday will effectively be a stand-alone, with qualifying for the Sprint in the morning and the Sprint itself in the afternoon. The outcome of the Sprint - other than potential crash damage - having no bearing on the Grand Prix.

"For once I think all the teams were aligned," said Frederic Vasseur, "it's not very often that it's the case so we have to jump on it.

"The format is more dynamic and you can discuss about doing it so late but at the end of the day I think if we're all aligned then we have to push for it.

"I like the format," he insisted. "I'm not a big fan of the usual FP2, sometimes it's a bit boring, not for us because we have a lot of data, but I can imagine for the spectators and even for you if you don't know about the level of fuel, the engine mode and so on it's probably a bit boring, and to try to have something more dynamic during the weekend is a good decision.

"If you watch football you're not watching the session on Wednesday when they are training in the stadium," he added, "we are probably the only sport where we are putting the training session on TV."

Red Bull boss, Christian Horner has previously described the decision to hold a Sprint at Baku, a street track with a reputation for incidents, as "ludicrous", while in Melbourne Max Verstappen reiterated that he is not a fan of the Sprints, warning that further tinkering with race weekend formats could cause him to reconsider his future in F1.

However, speaking to Sky Sports at the weekend, Vasseur, team principal at Ferrari, the team that more than any other has talked of tradition and DNA, and regularly made all manner of threats in terms of its resistance to change, appeared to be fully on-board with the views of F1 bosses.

"Of course, there needs to be the time for practice," he admitted, "but the people are coming to see performance and the more that you give the teams and drivers the chance to see who they are, the better it is for the show.

"It's not because we don't respect the traditions," he insisted, "we respect the old way of thinking of our weekend, but it would be wrong not to think about it.

"We also have a new generation that are coming in that are more aggressive in asking for something different."

"Aggressive in asking for something different"... is that what they're protesting about on the streets of various cities in France... a new look to race weekends? Well, who would have guessed? It must also explain the ongoing protests in the Netherlands, who would have thought all those farmers are F1 fans?

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Published: 10/04/2023
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