F1 Sprint: How to set format to change in 2024 with reverse grid and scheduling changes between options | Formula 1 news

F1 Sprint: How to set format to change in 2024 with reverse grid and scheduling changes between options |  Formula 1 news

Some people like the Sprint formula, others are against it, and most are somewhere in the middle, but how can Formula 1 make it better?
The Sprint format was introduced in 2021 in an effort to provide greater value to fans, and add more competitive racing to the weekend.

The initial format saw a single practice session on Friday followed by qualifying, which would determine the grid for the shortened race on Saturday, and the result in turn would determine the grid for the full Grand Prix on Sunday.

There was also a second practice session on Saturday before the Sprint Race, which was ironic given the fact that teams and drivers had already locked down their car setups for the rest of the weekend after qualifying on Friday.

The best of the action in the thrilling sprint at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix

After three Sprint race weekends in both the 2021 and 2022 seasons, the format was understandably changed to replace the second practice session with a Sprint Shootout (qualifying) race on Saturday morning, removing the connection between the Sprint and Grand Prix, with each now having their own qualifiers. Private.

Additionally, the number of Sprint events has been doubled to six in the 2023 season, with some interesting schedules that place the final three of them within four race weekends at the end of the season, the last of which was just completed in Brazil. .

While you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the paddock who wouldn’t agree with the removal of the pointless second practice, the six sprints this season have made clear that significant flaws remain and that there is work to be done to secure the future of the format.

Why is Verstappen the biggest criticism of Sprint?

It’s been a bit uncomfortable for those who run the sport, and the most vocal critic of drag racing – at least among drivers – has been world champion Max Verstappen, who has criticized the format throughout this season, turning to ridicule in Sao Paulo.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic. A lot of fun. I’m very excited to do the Sprint again. I’m all for it,” said Verstappen, who has won four of the six Sprint races this year.

Verstappen has been more honest in the past about his opinion and insisted that “an F1 product works if the cars are competitive”, regardless of form.

Max Verstappen said earlier in the 2023 season that he is not a big fan of the Sprint format

One of Verstappen’s biggest complaints with the current Sprint format is the cars entering Parc Ferme, when their basic settings can no longer be changed, after just one 60-minute practice session, unless they want to take the significant penalty of starting the race from the pit lane.

He puts a lot of emphasis on running your simulations right before the race weekend and finding the optimal setup in practice.

“I prefer the normal race system,” Verstappen said. “I think it’s a bit more exciting, especially in qualifying, where you can go to the extreme because you know more about what you did in practice.”

“For example, at Suzuka, if you do FP1 there and then go straight to qualifying, you risk getting bigger transfers. This is not satisfactory.”

Verstappen’s other major criticism of the Sprint race is that he believes it reveals what will happen in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen wins the 2023 Austin Sprint, becoming the first driver to win three sprint races in a single season

“I always say that once we do the Sprint, you get the big picture anyway for the Main Race,” he added.

“So, you know, it’s kind of already: ‘Oh, well, this guy’s going to be really good in the race, and the other one’s going to back off.’ So it takes a little bit of excitement. I remember from what I was a fan of, outside of the Formula 1 world, You don’t know which cars will be particularly amazing in the long run.

“You watch qualifying and you say, ‘Oh, wow, okay,’ but there might be one car in front and he’s going to fall back in the race, which is not clear. Then you wake up for the Sunday race, and then ‘you see them all falling. Because of Sprint…this removes that. You’re like: ‘If nothing happens, they won’t crash, they’ll win the race,’ this team or whatever.”

Why do the likes of Hamilton and Leclerc enjoy Sprint weekends?

While Verstappen believes holding one practice session before park rules apply detracts from the show, others believe it adds to it.

The risks this system brings were clearly demonstrated, for example by Mercedes’ dominance in Brazil last year, and its unfortunate fall off the pace this time around.

Carlos Sainz makes quick work of passing two Mercedes cars during the 2023 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc said: “Having one free practice and going straight to qualifying is something I enjoy.”

“I think Saturday can be changed and improved, but I really like Friday, not having three free training sessions is really long and it can get a bit boring sometimes.

“We always follow the same program. So I like the fact that we only get one free practice and go straight to competing in the qualifiers.”

Charles Leclerc hits the barriers in his Ferrari in his final round of the 2023 GP Sprint Shootout in Azerbaijan, but his previous run was enough to earn him pole position in the Sprint

While accepting improvement is possible, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is also enjoying a break from the traditional three-trial format.

“Saturday is not the greatest day, but I like the individual practice session straight into qualifying,” the Mercedes driver said.

“I think we can learn. I would love for us to have a different system, rather than just the same three practice sessions and then qualifying and the race.”

What changes are possible for 2024?

While there is a range of opinions up and down the track, almost everyone agrees that some tweaking is needed, and that seems almost certain to happen over the winter.

Sky Sports F1 It is understood that talks have been held to move the Sprint Shootout to Friday evening, the Sprint to Saturday morning and qualifying to its traditional place on Saturday afternoon.

The current format creates a bit of a disconnect between Friday qualifying for Sunday’s race, with a lot of time and movement passing between the two.

Tom McCullough, Aston Martin’s performance director, said: “It’s already been tweaked and I think it needs to be tweaked a bit more because even my dad, who is a Formula 1 follower, sometimes says to me: ‘So just remind me, is she qualified?’” on Friday for the main race. ?

Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes explains the 2023 Sprint format

“And I think if someone at that level had questions, the fans would be confused. So, our job is to create a simpler, better, more understandable formula, while keeping the two races exciting.”

There is also a push, especially from engineers, to find a way to ease the rules on park closures after just one 60-minute session.

Sky Sports F1 Martin Brundle has suggested extending that session to 90 minutes, while another option could be to allow teams to adjust their car settings between the Sprint race and Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

There are also discussions regarding the Sprint Shootout format itself, as it is currently mandatory to use the new medium tires in SQ1 and SQ2, before using the soft tires in SQ3. The Sprint Shootout portion of each session is also shorter than regular qualifying.

“If you move the sprint race to Saturday morning, you have to make sure you leave enough of a gap for the teams to react in order to qualify in the event of problems,” Ferrari sporting director Diego Yuverno said.

“There are also other options on the table. There is still no specific proposal but our goal will be that once the FIA ​​and Formula 1 decide on the format, the teams will have to work together to make it good for the spectators and good for us, because it is very difficult.”

Could we see reverse grids in Formula 1?

One suggestion to spice up a Sprint is to make it a reverse race. It is not clear whether this will reflect the qualifying standings or the championship standings, but it would be unprecedented territory for Formula One.

Other motorsport categories, such as the F1 Academy, have reverse grid racing which is an option open to some drivers.

“The best sprint race I’ve ever been in was when I last started, so I’m in favor of the reverse order,” Hamilton said.

Anthony Davidson takes a look at Lewis Hamilton’s overtakes as he moved from the back of the grid to fifth in the 2021 Sao Paulo Sprint Race

However, the seven-time world champion warned: “Unless we get that, everyone will be trying to qualify last!”

The F1 Academy avoids this problem by reversing the order of the qualifying session which also determines the grid for one of the series’ two regular races on the weekend, but by reversing this approach, F1 will be without a Sprint Shootout and revert to just one qualifying session.

“I think a reverse grid could be an option and I only have one qualifying.” Sky Sports F1Naomi Schiff said. “Make the Grand Prix qualifying for the Sprint and reverse the order because everyone will do their best in that situation.”

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz urges patience with a format that is still very new to the sport in relative terms.

“I don’t mind. I think that given that the Sprint system is an experiment currently taking place in Formula 1, I would be open to continuing the experiment to see which format is best,” the Spaniard said.

“For me, what we have now, just on Saturday, doesn’t seem quite right for what’s coming on Sunday.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz is open to further experimentation with the Sprint formula

Criticism about the possibility of holding races on the reverse grid generally comes from the top teams who, naturally, do not want to see their cars at the back of the grid.

However, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is a fan of reversing the grid to create more overtakes.

“I think if they want to have this format of speed racing, we have to change it,” Perez said. “I would suggest a reverse grid, something like that to make it more interesting for the fans.”

“I don’t think things are going well, what we want to achieve, nothing really happens in this type of race. I think it will mix things up and create more chances, more overtakes. I mean, if we want to maintain this situation.” “I think this type of event has not provided a lot of good racing over the last couple of years.”

Should there be a standalone Sprint Championship?

The standalone Sprint Championship was also discussed, where points from the Sprint would not count towards the regular standings for drivers and manufacturers.

This does not appear to be an option in the future, and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner sees no point in another championship, proposing instead to compete for more prize money in the sprint races.

“Who cares about the Sprint Championship? I think there is a desire among the fans to race on Saturday,” Horner said. “I prefer the old system, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.”

On the Sky Sports F1 Podcast, David Croft discusses the changes he will make to Formula 1 rules, including separating Sprint from the World Championship.

“What we have at the moment is not quite right for the drivers, the fans and the teams. There has to be more. We have just won the Sprint Race and no one quite knows what to do because all the focus is on the Grand Prix. .

“Maybe one thing would be a huge prize money for the team and drivers. That’s always a great incentive! Then you’ll see some people celebrating at the end!”

“Maybe it’s worth looking at it a little differently. If you look at football, they have the major league and then the cup finals. Maybe we’ll look at something like that, which has a bigger reward attached to it.”

In the end, it’s impossible to argue with Brundle’s assessment that “the worst Sprint race in F1 was much better than the two best free practice races”, which is why the Sprint is undoubtedly worth continuing.

It is now up to Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali, along with the teams, to come up with a way to make 2024 drag racing more entertaining.

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