Start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Sprint races will ‘update the format but preserve the DNA’ of F1

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1’s global director of race promotion has addressed concerns a planned trial of sprint races this year will break away from the sport’s traditional weekend format.

A working group has been formed to propose rules for the extra races, which if approved will be held on Saturdays at three rounds this year to decide the grid for the usual Sunday grand prix.

Drivers, who panned a similar earlier proposal for reverse-grid sprint races, have greeted the latest iteration of the plan warily. “It’s a bit risky,” said Red Bull’s Sergio Perez yesterday, warning the sport should not tamper with its “DNA”.

F1’s race promotions head Chloe Targett-Adams insists the series is sensitive to those concerns. “What is absolutely key is the integrity of the sport in the DNA,” she told the BlackBook Motorsport Virtual Summit this week. “So in changing format, we make sure we don’t lose that because that’s not going to work for the teams, the fans, for our wider commercial partners and promoters.

“I think the sprint race concept that our motorsport team, working with the FIA and the teams, are obviously in discussion around is a very interesting way of looking at updating the format while still preserving the DNA of the sport. Obviously there are details that they’re working through now that with a view to looking at having that rolling out at three races this year.”

If approved, the sprint races will be held at the Canadian, Italian and Brazilian grands prix this year. “Our promoters in those potential locations are really excited about it,” Targett-Adams added.

“It should then give more scope for innovation if it’s workable. Like with anything once you try something new, you see where learnings are and you can then adapt and improve.”

Sprint races would allow F1 to provide more compelling action within the current three-race race weekend structure, said Targett-Adams.

“What’s key from our our event perspective is that our events currently operate on a three-to-four day basis. It really is festival of Formula 1, of motorsport. And I think that’s a key part of how we engage with our fans in the location.

“I think there’s a question of how the format of that three-day weekend is potentially adapted to allow a bit more flexibility for the teams in terms of moving around the world, but also with giving the fans in that location what they want. And how we then work with other series like F2, F3 [and] we’ve got a partnership with W series this year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 55 comments on “Sprint races will ‘update the format but preserve the DNA’ of F1”

    1. In the category “We want change, and are going to whine, whinge, cry and throw the toys out of the pram, until we get what we want”, even doh there is 0 research it will provide positive change.

      The more they push for changes to the racing format, the more it seems they know that Brawn’s new technical format will be another complete and utter failure.

      1. Umm… only running the sprint races at 3 rounds is the research.

        1. No, it is changing a format during a competition.
          The research must be done, before changing the format of the competition, even if it is only temporary.
          This is the same adhoc, emotionally driven change that we have seen in the past, like the staggered qualification or the technical regulations that the cars have been based on the past years, the reliability rules etc etc.

          No online simulations have been done, no data has been presented with results of said simulations, no expectations have been presented on the basis of the data.

          They are once again going in blind, because some people feel they want change.

          1. SadF1fan I disagree entirely.

    2. Stephen Higgins
      26th February 2021, 8:44

      I’m not.

      1. Comment of the day candidate!

    3. Wasn’t Brazil the third one, or has it changed to the US at some point more recently?

    4. I’m not enthusiastic about it but let’s see what the working group comes up with. We might be surprised however the current ideas are gimmicky. If the purpose is to determine the grid for Sunday then not much incentive for a place that a clutch slip could waste in a second. It could become a 2nd rate circus sprint.
      As has been said before, the classic format isn’t broken and if the idea is to improve the racing then let’s wait for the 2022 attempt before any tinkering.

    5. This is going to be the best change in F1 for ages, really excited about this. Qualifying is broken beyond repair and really needs to be changed.

      And, as usual, it will become part of the regular race weekend format and in 10 years people will be whining when they’re discussing removing it again.

      1. Qualifying is broken beyond repair

        I completely disagree with this & honestly don’t understand how those who actually think it have come to that conclusion.

        I love how qualifying builds the tension/excitement over the 3 segments, I love how we get to see drivers on low fuel pushing flat out for ultimate lap time & I love the tension/excitement at the end of each segment as the order shuffles as cars cross the line.

        I think it’s the best qualifying format F1 has ever had & the only thing that comes close is the old pre-2003 1 hour format. This sort of format is for me what qualifying should be & what should determine the grid for the GP.

        1. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the format of qualifying but can’t help but think that quali’s been crap for years due to the strength of the Mercs. Difficult situation to be in and for the promoters trying to sell tickets quali doesn’t look much different to any other practice session really so this could really help them.

          1. Qualifying never been broke, they are trying to react to boredom caused by Mercedes, and also to please the shareholders who wanted to increase revenues, and promoters etc. This has nothing to do with preserve F1 DNA. I’m just disappointed that this is happening in Brawn’s era. This is so much like the classic knee jerk reactions from Bernie’s era. Just get it on with 2021 as it is, if the new generation of cars work as intended, no need to artificially “spice up the show” (I deeply hate this expression when used for F1).

        2. The format of qualifying fastest car around the track starts on pole works great.
          The segmented qualifying doesn’t work at all. You can’t see anyone’s lap, you don’t get the atmosphere of tension from the top building up towards their lap.
          The first session is a flash in which you see 20 cars cross the finish line twice.
          It is like watching the scoreboard instead of the goals in football.

          1. We haven’t heard exactly how they will do the sprint qualifying race(s) so let’s at least wait for that before deciding anything. That’s the whole point of giving it a trial. If it isn’t palatable they won’t proceed. If the idea wasn’t already palatable the teams would have already seen to it’s demise like they have reverse grids. But they see it as something at least worth deciding a format on and then giving it a trial. Liberty deserves to play with their entity imho given all the good things they are already implementing ie. I trust them as they have already put all the really big and important measure in place to ensure a sustainable F1, along with the teams agreement and blessing.

            1. Which good things have Liberty implemented?
              To me they have been smearing lipstick on a pig and called it something better.

              They won’t get rid of reliability rules, the #1 reason races aren’t predictable.
              They haven’t changed the tires, the one reason why there is speed deficit of almost 10 seconds between the quali and the race.
              And before the new technical regulations are introduced, they want to tinker and tinker with the format, indicating they have no trust/confidence/proof from simulations that the new technical regulations are going to bring any positive change.

              But by changing lots of factors at the same time you make it convulated enough not be able to statistically regress what changes are responsible for what effects.
              Giving themselves semantic political outs when things won’t go they way they have been presented.

    6. Sprint races will not improve F1 at all and should have been rejected.

    7. I’ve said it before, this is a good push for them to start charging an extra to organizers. It’s a way to create a need, allow them to have more of the product at a reasonable cost. Buy 2, pay 50% for the second one.

      I don’t think it’ll have the desired effect. I don’t see why a shorter race could make the weekend any more exciting…

      1. I don’t see why a shorter race could make the weekend any more exciting…

        As a frequent race visiting fan I see a big upside in having some real action on all three days of the ‘festival’, @fer-no65.
        And it’s even better than that for me as I often only visit the track on Friday/Saturday and then watch the Sunday race at home/friends.

        1. @coldfly: I go to the fridays because they are chilled, because there is a lot of tracktime. You can actually see the drivers learn their cars, you can analyze their skills. You have the chance to appreciate the cars and to enjoy some other raceclasses.

          Another joy is the fact it isn’t so horribly busy, meaning people that don’t or can’t enjoy busy spaces (people with mental health issue’s, autism etc) actually have the chance to enjoy F1 without the hardship of having to endure 100.000 people.

      2. @fer-no65 I don’t see why a sprint race qualifying session rather than the usual solo time-trial session wouldn’t add to the overall excitement of the weekend, especially as @coldfly points out there would still be the usual quali format to watch on Friday which would make that day a more potent day to which to look forward.

    8. I think for me I’m excited at the prospect of more racing and a sprint race on one set of tyres only would be pretty good to watch I think. What I dislike is that this is being put forward as the way to qualify for the main race. To me I just don’t see how that connects or how that’s remotely fair. If you get taken out by a competitor through no fault of your own in the sprint race then you’re completely screwed for the main event??

      If you want an extra race then at that point I’d say you should then have a quali round for that race and then a quality for the main race (both on the same day as their respective races). With the sprint race you could do something exciting like a one lap quali, done one at a time in reverse championship order. That would be exciting to watch and is shorter than a full hour.

      I just don’t like the prospect of the sprint race deciding the main race so a bad week for someone just gets worse and worse as it progresses.

      1. If you get taken out by a competitor through no fault of your own in the sprint race then you’re completely screwed for the main event??

        DavidH, It’s been mentioned before that this risk also exists during the current quali format.

        And even worse: in the current quali system an ill-timed yellow or red flag can be disastrous for some, whereas in a sprint quali race it will be the same for all (assuming there will be no pit stops).

    9. How do you preserve the DNA of F1 after DRS and hybrids? That just makes me lose more hope cause they don’t even realize how much DNA they have lost. Eeks.

    10. What is wrong with qualifying? Why even spend time fiddling with it when F1 has so many problems to solve.

      The qualifying format is fine and doesnt need spicing up. Plus its cool to have statistics about pole positions and be able to compare with the rich history of F1. Also, they keep talking about cutting costs, but all they do is add more by making the teams do sprint races.

      If only they spent half as much time trying to get rid of the need for DRS by addressing the root cause of why its hard to overtake. But thas would actually involve some hard work.

      1. Plus its cool to have statistics about pole positions and be able to compare with the rich history of F1.
        Those same statistics include aggregate qualifying and other changes over the rich history of F1, @vjanik.

        1. aggregate qualifying. another example of a failed attempt to spice things up.

        2. Historical F1 statistics are already pretty meaningless. The points system is incomparable to anything pre-2010, and the cars are so much more reliable (and not death traps) and drivers have much longer careers so that the likes of Jackie Stewart’s record of 27 wins, which stood for 14 years, pales into insignificance compared to the totals that stand now.

          I’m not a fan of sprint races but I wouldn’t use the statistics as an argument. That ship has long since sailed.

          1. I agree – statistics and records are often trotted out in F1 but they are almost always meaningless because of the huge ways the sport has changed.

          2. Absolutely, historicals aren’t good already, the points ofc can be fixed, we can use normalized values, but the amount of wins is indeed a really bad indicator, cause hamilton already had an advantage over schumacher thanks to the higher amount of races per year, and ofc the car matters too, but if you go back to fangio, ascari, clark, it was absolutely impossible to win a comparable amount of races, fangio drove just over half the f1 races that schumacher and hamilton won, there are ofc % that are better for that, but that has the opposite effect in a sense, it over-rewards the old drivers, cause it’s easier to win 50% of races out of 50 than out of 300!

        3. @coldfly But what hasn’t changed over the long history of F1 is that a pole position rewarded single-lap pace — even if, at times, it required two single laps.

          I’m instinctively sceptical about arguments over the DNA of F1 — to be honest, I’d prefer a reverse grid sprint race over the current plan because if you’re going to mix things up as a pure experiment, why go halfway? Do the most outrageous thing, see what happens, and then go from there. But objectively, changing a pole position to reward a race win — of any kind — instead of a qualifying lap is a much more significant change than aggregate qualifying.

      2. @vjanik There is nothing wrong with current quali, but there is also nothing wrong with asking if it could be even more exciting. That you think it is fine is absolutely fine. Some don’t. And that’s fine too. I appreciate that they are asking (not demanding) for a trial (an experiment) and aren’t just dictating that it will be so.

        As well, to your last paragraph, that is wholly unfair as they have already put the hard work in along with the teams and we will see that come to fruition starting next year.

        1. As far as i know DRS is not going away in 2022. So after more than a decade and several big rule changes, they still havent addressed the root cause and are using a gimmick.

          1. @vjanik Yeah I do hear you on that and it is unfortunate that it will still be present, but I am convinced for the time being that it is only being retained as a ‘safeguard’ shall we say in case the teams find loopholes to the new regs and indeed keep the cars still too dependent on clean air. At least that is what I took from what Brawn has said, but meanwhile he has also said they have tried very hard to suss out any such loopholes right off the bat. I am confident that their extensive research on this will prove not just that DRS can be gotten rid of (and let’s keep in mind Brawn has never been a fan of it) but that the teams will have not been able to retain so much dependence on aero downforce in spite of the rules that it will remain ‘necessary.’ Personally I’ve hated it from minute one.

            Just wanted to add it has not been more than a decade because the only earnest and lasting effort to do anything about too much clean air dependence has only come from Liberty and Brawn since they took over from BE. Efforts before that under BE were relatively half-hearted and did not last, all the while the teams continuing to pour the usual millions upon millions to add more and more aero downforce with the least drag, while making sure they created as much dirty air for the trailing car as possible. I can’t see how the genuine and unprecedented level of commitment Brawn has put in won’t have a drastic and very positive effect, given how much effect we know even a small change can have on things.

    11. Marlboro said tobacco doesn’t harm. Point is with PR, you can say whatever is on your side. Be it a sprint race or a cancer.

    12. There is no such thing as the “DNA” of Formula 1. Throughout the years costumer cars have come and gone, Indy 500 used to count for the championship, teams could apply for races as they saw fit, some races were non-championship races, drivers could changes cars mid-race, teams could have 3 or 4 cars, the list goes on.

      I like the weekend format as it has been for so many years now. But long-time fans cannot ignore that, for many years in a row now, a sizeable portion of the fan base plus the series organizers plus the teams plus pundits and insiders (which we fans are not), have pushed hard for sprint races to happen. But the current proposal is terrible – basically you just have an extra smaller race before the main event to set the grid, ensuring that the actual race will be even more processional that it has been.

      Somewhere (either in this or another forum) a fan had what I think is the best alternative:

      Saturday morning: qualifying, same format to determine main grid
      Saturday lunch time: 45 min. sprint-race with grid in reverse championship order; minor points awarded to top 6
      Sunday: main race, using grid positions from the true qualifying position; points awarded to top 10

      This way you could balance most of the opposing view points:
      – Traditional qualifying still happens: the fastest lap and pole position will still be an objective
      – A sprint race with reverse grid still happens: entertaining in a mindless way, pays minor points so it is not irrelevant
      – Full GP: pole position at this event ensures traditional qualifying still matters, pays the big points maintaining its status mostly unaffected

      1. a sizeable portion of the fan base… have pushed hard for sprint races to happen

        I don’t think that’s true at all. The impetus for this is coming from F1, not the fans, as far as I see it.

        1. @keithcollantine I did not state that it was a majority of fans. From your latest poll, 25% (which is far from insignificant, even if it’s a clear minority) are in favour of trialling sprint races. Also, the impression I get from other websites and social media, is that potentially more than 25% of fans want to have sprint races. My subjective feeling is that the biggest divide is between old fans vs. new fans, with newer fans not minding so much to try a new format. RaceFans I think has a larger share of older, more traditional fans of F1, so I feel the results are skewed towards a more hardcore fanbase.

          As I said, I’ve been watching F1 for many years now and I like the format as it is. But there is scope for trying out new stuff if we can balance out the arguments from both sides, like the proposal I mentioned above.

          1. Pedro Andrade Reverse grids have already been overwhelmingly meted out to be too unpopular and therefore have been dropped as a concept. That should encourage people to appreciate that Liberty are not just looking to cram whatever they want down our throats (not saying you’re claiming that but I find it to be a virtue of Liberty and Brawn).

            I think what will help, and a poll on it will be nice and hopefully will happen, is knowing the exact format that they (Liberty and teams) will decide on as the best way. For now I think too many are overblowing this out of proportion with assumptions to fill in what we don’t know.

    13. Im sure I read before that even if they voted for sprint races at these events, they’re not replacing qualifying and are instead moving qualifying to Friday afternoon? I might be wrong but I seem to remember seeing that.

        1. @t1redmonkey As is mentioned in the article traditional qualifying will go on Friday to determine the grid for Saturday’s race qualifier. Personally I have kept hammering away that imho it would be more clear to call Saturday’s event something like a sprint qualifier, rather than a sprint race. Of course yes inevitably it is a race. As I envision and hope what will happen is simply that on Saturday they will race for pole in a sprint format. The winner is the pole sitter for the race on Sunday and nothing more. No points please. I just do not and cannot think of Saturday’s proposed sprint session as anything other than a potentially more exciting way to qualify, and it shouldn’t be looked at as ‘just another race’ for the sake of having just another race. I really really do not want to see points awarded for the Saturday Sprint Qualifier, as it is merely a different format to set the grid for Sunday’s race, just as they do using the format that exists now and will still be done for all but three events this season if they indeed go ahead with the trial, which it sounds like they are all agreeing to do.

    14. I still find it sadly amusing that this is a sport that is literally built on change, evolution and experimentation, prides itself on being the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ and has changed repeatedly throughout its history but apparently most of its fans would be happy with it staying exactly the same, never changing, never attempting something different. Also that most fail to understand the concept of a trial, that none of these proposals need to be kept or are guaranteed to stay.

      1. @rocketpanda Yes it’s a trial, But it’s a trial that could have a major impact on the outcome of the championships. I’d be more comfortable with these trials if they were been done as non-championship events or if the sprint race was it’s own stand alone thing from the rest of the weekend in terms of not affecting the main GP.

        As far as change goes. I’ve been watching F1 for 31 years now & i’ve seen plenty of change, Some which i’ve liked & some that I haven’t.

        For me my dislike of this proposal isn’t me simply been against change, It’s me simply not been a fan of this sort of format. I’ve never really enjoyed the short sprint race format, It’s why I stopped watching touring car racing 20-ish years ago when BTCC switched to the 3 short race format (With reverse grids). I don’t like it when races are short & feel like they are over before you have really had a chance to get into them & how they tend to lack some of the more strategy based elements I enjoy about the longer races.

        Additionally I feel like this is something been done for the wrong reasons. It’s change for the sake of change rather than a change that is really needed or that will fix/improve something that needs fixing/improving. I go into that a bit more with my comment below.

        1. It could have a major impact on the outcome of the championships, yes. Just like double points finales that lasted just one year. It was wildly unpopular, tried once and we’ve never discussed it again. Equally positive change, like our current qualifying format was brought back after a change that was enormously unpopular. We cannot be so afraid of trying something new and hiding behind the sanctity of statistics or championship deciders in a sport that only a few years ago had a totally different points structure is pretty ridiculous.

          I see so many arguments of why its bad, why it shouldn’t be done but we’re still debating something that literally hasn’t happened yet. If it happens and it’s terrible, fair point let’s roll it back like we have with other changes in the past. But haven’t any of you stopped to consider it might be good? What if it becomes something that is actually super enjoyable? Bottom line, none of us know unless we give it a go. You may be right, I may be right. So let’s roll the dice and have a look.

        2. @stefmeister Brawn has made it very clear that they would have to be very careful that this trial not have a major impact on the outcome of the Championship.

      2. @rocketpanda I think a big reason people are resistant to even trialing this is because F1 will probably draw whatever conclusions they want to from the data. It’s near guaranteed that the sprint race weekends will attract larger audiences overall than a normal weekend based on novelty factor alone, and if F1 decide to use this as their primary metric of success then they could approve expanding it into more races in future, regardless of whether it has any long term potential to improve the spectacle or not.

        And if even one of the sprint race weekends results in an exciting sprint and main race, then it will be used as the example of the potential of this format. Just look at how they tried to use last year’s Monza as an example of why they should adopt a reverse grid format (!?), even though the circumstances of that race and reasons it was a thriller had almost nothing in common with what a normal reverse grid race would look like.

        So I think a lot of people see this three race trial as an inevitable lead in to F1 adopting a sprint race format on a number of race weekends on a permanent basis. In they do go down this route, time will tell how correct those predictions are.

    15. F1 doesn’t need sprint races, It doesn’t need reverse grids or any real change to the qualifying format at all…. It never did. The only change in terms of the on-track product that was ever really needed was cars that can follow closer to hopefully create more opportunities for drivers to try & overtake. You don’t want easy/guaranteed passing, Just a situation that allows for drivers to have a go as it’s that which creates the excitement.

      Sprint races won’t make F1 more competitive, They won’t improve the racing & I honestly don’t think they will end up been that exciting to watch when compared to normal qualifying. They will just be shorter races with the same issues the longer one’s have with the added negative of likely not including the elements such as strategy & management that creates the pace differentials between cars that can actually help make the Grand Prix interesting.

      1. @stefmeister I do hear your opinion and when I’ve given mine with you over this topic it is always with the appreciation that we are each entitled to feel the way we feel, and who am I to say you’re wrong. Just wanted to say I think it will help when we hear exactly what Brawn and the teams agree on. Then we can formulate a better picture of what it will look like, and I remain steadfast that Brawn does not think quali needs fixing and will happily go along with keeping the weekends exactly as they are if the experiment results in that conclusion being the prudent one. I admire them for at least asking the question ‘Can it be more exciting than it is?’ And asking ‘Can we trial it?’ It’s their entity after all. If it seems like they are ‘pushing this through’ all that is is a trial to answer a question and for me better to hear and see exactly what that looks like rather than deciding over a poll. Although lol polls were enough, or perhaps the teams were enough, to do away with reverse grids, and that’s an encouraging sign that they are not just cramming whatever they want down our throats.

    16. Zach (@zakspeedf1team)
      26th February 2021, 13:09

      I’m not convinced on the idea of sprint races, but sure, let’s have a trial and see how they pan out. Maybe I’m a fool but I trust F1 to withdraw sprint races if they are bad. And if they turn out to be good, then well, it’s an improvement. That’s at least what I’m telling myself.

      1. @zakspeedf1team I don’t think you’re a fool and I agree with you and I trust them too. So maybe I’m a fool too lol, but you know what they say…great minds think alike, but as well fools seldom differ.

    17. It’s telling that they always talk of “preserving the DNA”. Do they know what happens to the DNA of a species over time?

    18. remember double points ?

    19. Maybe talking about the DNA of F1 is in the DNA of F1. The thing about DNA is it mutates. These are small changes from generation to generation that allow life to thrive and evolve in different conditions. If you look back through time you could find thousands of mutations in the DNA of F1.

    20. What happens if a team cannot compete on Sunday because of something occurring in the sprint race?

    21. Remove two tyre compounds minimum rule and average fuel consumption limitations. Until then it’s all pointless.

    Comments are closed.