George Russell, Mercedes, Imola, 2022

Brawn unmoved by Russell’s criticism of “processional” sprint race

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn said the opinions of front-running drivers on sprint races matter more after George Russell called today’s event “processional”.

Brawn said the first sprint event of 2022 vindicated the decision to continue the format for another year. He believes the tyre selection turned out to be “perfect” for the 21-lap race.

“As we all know, racing drivers are racing drivers, so any thoughts they were going to take it easy for the race I don’t think this is the case,” he said.

“I think we were fortunate in the tyres were perfect for the sprint race because they started to degrade. Of course in a normal race you would have had the driver coming into the pits, changing the tyres and it would have all come down to strategy. They only had one shot in the race and the drivers had to make the tyres last.

“The interesting thing is it’s probably given Ferrari a good insight for tomorrow. So I think they’ll be stronger in the race tomorrow than what they were today.

“So we’re very pleased with the sprint race. Great entertainment, lots of racing going on, plenty of overtaking. We’ve demonstrated the cars can follow. I know you may say, well, it was DRS but you can’t use DRS unless you get on the back of the car. So I think overall it was a great success.”

However Russell, who finished out of the points in 11th, said he hadn’t enjoyed the race. “I don’t know what the rest of the race was like but it felt processional from where we were,” he said.

“The race just isn’t long enough to get some tyre degradation there and to have some big differences between the drivers and the cars.”

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Brawn said he was more concerned about what the drivers who finished in the leading positions thought of the race.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna sprint race in pictures
“Whenever my driver’s had a bad car he’s complained about the race,” he said. “So I think George’s opinion or the opinion of anyone in the back of the grid is not the opinions that we really listen to.

“The opinions we listen to are the guys who were really competitive, they’re racing in the middle or racing at the front. They’re in a very unfortunate position, but I don’t think their position in the back of the grid is really one that reflects the true position of racing.”

Russell’s opinion will not be ignored, said Brawn, but he believes the Mercedes driver has other concerns on his mind.

“I just know from my own experience psychologically a driver of the back of the grid has got all sorts of other things going on,” he said. “It would be great if there were things going on at the back.

“We had a Mercedes that couldn’t overtake the cars in front but there was plenty of overtaking going on in the middle and the front. So of course we’ll listen, we won’t ignore it, but I think you have to you have to keep a perspective on it.”

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
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41 comments on “Brawn unmoved by Russell’s criticism of “processional” sprint race”

  1. The guys at the front you say? Well Verstappen said he doesn’t like the format and Leclerc said they should do a stand alone race that doesn’t affect the grid. Of course, their opinion probably doesn’t matter either because it’s not “the sprint race is great.”

    1. @petebaldwin Yes, it does look rather that the sponsors are always on pole here…

  2. Well no offence but it’s essentially a much more powerful drs race with little or no true overtaking. You keep the tyres alive and it’s done.

    Just the variance in tyre use and car ability.

    Frankly – given the promises we have had, the fact that the more powerful drs keeps the field ‘closer’ is a stunning misstep but then, one has to wonder how much of this was Brawn bringing down Toto – as an engineer in the meetings rather a finance guy and any real interest in what fans really want?

    They increased the power of drs kept these awful tyres doing what they do and wow, look what happened?

    Rather than a fair shot for all.

  3. Well no offence but it’s essentially a much more powerful drs race with little or no true overtaking. You keep the tyres alive and it’s done.

    Just the variance in tyre use and car ability.

    Frankly – given the promises we have had, the fact that the more powerful drs keeps the field ‘closer’ is a stunning misstep but then, one has to wonder how much of this was Brawn bringing down Toto – as an engineer in the meetings rather a finance guy and any real interest in what fans really want?

    They increased the power of drs kept these awful tyres doing what they do and wow, look what happened?

    Rather than a fair shot for all.

    Or even a fair field – right now it’s just a crap shoot

    2009 all over again

    Except the cars look like a joke

    Dustin lid for wheels and mudguards – just really?

    1. Russell is a GPDA director, and the GPDA nearly got the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix cancelled. This could be revenge for that. (Hard to disambiguate this and the Wolff hypothesis, though, since Hamilton is also very much active in the GPDA).

      1. @alianora-la-canta it’s certainly possible that there could be an element of that. Russell and Hamilton, along with Alonso, Gasly and Stroll, were apparently the most vocal critics of racing in Saudi Arabia, and several of those drivers are also not that enthusiastic about the sprint races either – Gasly, for example, has not exactly been praising the idea of sprint races recently.

        Asides from the criticism about the race in Saudi Arabia, the GPDA hasn’t really been particularly enthusiastic about the sprint races either – and given Russell’s prominent role within the GPDA, that again makes him something of a target for Brawn.

  4. It was the first part of a 400 km race with a 24-hour suspension. If today’s starting grid had been the starting grid for the GP, the first third of the GP would have been similar to today’s event.

    I know you may say, well, it was DRS but you can’t use DRS unless you get on the back of the car.

    This is a stupid saying. It’s the kind of saying you can’t even argue with it as you don’t know where to start.

    1. I’d start with “getting onto the back of the car is as simple as waiting for a Safety Car, and given there were 5 red flags in qualifying, that was always going to happen at some sufficiently early point”.

  5. The race had decent action. It was not like Brazil last year where we only had one car that made all the overtakes.

  6. the opinion of anyone in the back of the grid is not the opinions that we really listen to

    Lovely attitude that.

    1. Agreed. To publicly say the opinions of drivers/teams at the back don’t matter is very powerful in all the wrong ways. If I was leading one of those teams, I’d demand he be removed from his role.

      1. @velocityboy You’d demand but your demands wouldn’t be listened to lol

  7. the opinion of anyone in the back of the grid is not the opinions that we really listen to

    Ignoring the idiocy if that argument, I feel like him if all people should probably notice that 11th isn’t the back. It’s very middle.

    1. Brawn’s position about the sprint clearly reflects the notion that “never expect someone to criticise something their salaries depend upon.”

  8. This stupid sprint race needs to be as croft i think said or 1 of the commentators, that the sprint needs another 10 laps i hv to agree. Other wise its boring.

    1. Ah, indeed, I heard one of the english commentators say that too, so basically they want it to be around 50% of a normal race duration.

    2. Another 10 laps would have compelled pit stops for most soft-tyred competitors, which means they’d have responded by using medium tyres and we’d have got a similar result.

  9. The format doesn’t work, and if you ask me, the new cars offer no better racing than the old. The shake up in the order is welcome, but the racing is no better.
    I beg F1 to try a few races without DRS to see how much the new cars have actually improved things – because at the moment we just DRS passes, that are just as tedious as they were last year.

    1. I partially agree with you. New regs improve things but are not a definitive solution.
      The five laps battles weve seen this year show that theer was some improvement.
      And if you want to see what would happen without DRS, just look down the field today: cars need to be 1sec faster than whoever is in front to DRS to work – as per Sainz gains and MAgnuseen loss demonstrate. And Vettel how a train behind him with a car that was barely faster than those behind.

      1. Down the grid, I saw people getting past very easily thanks to DRS yielding a 0.6 second advantage. More easily than at the front, except for Magnussen’s defence work due to being better than his car.

  10. Mercedes must be loving Brawn’s pointless comments about a ‘bad car’ and their drivers ‘at the back of the grid.’
    Fact is the sprint race is buff naked rubbish and everyone but the emperor knows it.

  11. It still bad. It lets drivers that qualified badly to recover. So sainz is starting the main event 4th instead of 10th which wouldve made the main event far more interesting. Same with Lewis on Brazil last year…

    Sprint races are nothing special in itself. Its just the first bit of any normal race. It’s basically throwing a red flag after a specific number of laps…

  12. All the respect i had for ross brawn has evaporated in the 3-4 years since he became liberty’s puppet.

  13. Bit disrespectful

  14. The emperors new clothes

  15. Brawn is a Pawn.
    A fixed grin joke of a man who says what he is told to say.

  16. I’d rather watch qualifying on a saturday.

  17. If you don’t like the sprint races but tuned in to watch it, you’re part of the problem.

    1. Exactly @slowmo

      There’s no point saying you don’t like it and then being a participant.

      I’ve made my feelings clear by boycotting the entire event and will continue to do so for every sprint weekend.

      I’ll look at results on this site but won’t watch a second of it, on any media, whether it be a full replay or some 5 minute YouTube highlights package.

      The only way that this abomination will ever be discarded is if people don’t watch it. Even then I suspect Brawn would find some way to say it’s great.

      1. We know they will because they made their judgment the moment they got a new sponsor due to it (and the sponsor seems quite happy with the crowd reaction at race 1 last year – which I will allow was the one good race the sprint format has so far produced – regarding all else as a bonus).

    2. @slowmo Not all of us get a choice as to whether our TV is tuned into it, and the stats are counted by TV/digital tunings, not by individuals watching it (and my parents insist on watching it because it’s an F1 event – they’d also rather it was free practice on the TV than a sprint).

    3. @slowmo Fair enough but I can’t know that I don’t like them if I don’t watch them until I can’t be bothered any longer. I tolerate sprint races as there are just a few. I’ll probably stop following Formula 1 altogether if they appear at half the race weekends or more. For me, it’s a yes/no decision to follow the sport, essentially.

      1. @david-br I watched them last year to give them a fair go and it became pretty clear they’re garbage to me hence I’ll not watch them anymore. Unfortunately it seems Liberty do not value the opinions of people that have loved the sport over decades, they’re selling it to a new audience. That’s their prerogative, although its pretty clear motorsports days are numbered anyway longer term. Such a shame.

        1. @slowmo I agree with you basically, I just have a minimal curiosity to see how the grid will line up and would rather watch (half-heartedly) rather than read how it went. For now. Could change by the end of the year. To work I think the sprint races need to be manic, DRS enabled from the start and much shorter, rewarding risk-taking and not allowing time for faster cars to recover from any early lap mistakes (or recover from qualifying mistakes/issues unless they take risks).

  18. They probably should experiment more – what about a fixed number of DRS activations, say between 5 & 8?

  19. Hey Ross… take it from someone who’s been watching F1 since your BGP-001 was a thing– Sprint racing is a waste of time, a waste of money, does nothing to address cost savings, does nothing to help the teams race better, and the fact that Parc Ferme starts at 11am on Friday local time is not only asinine, it is potentially dangerous when you have a weekend with wildly varying conditions.

    Sprint races add nothing, they only subtract.

  20. Any race with a Safety Car makes getting into the 1-second window trivially easy. DRS was worth 0.6 seconds per lap when active. Ross does not appear to have noticed (or, it feels like he is being paid not to notice by F1’s cryptocurrency sponsor) that his attempted defence of the criticism against the sprint race merely deepens the criticism. Instead of being about skill of attack and defence, it became a much more straightforward matter of waiting for the inevitable and pressing buttons until the desired effect happened.

    If I want that, I can play computer games.

    While I think sprint races usually take a lot of the tension out of Sunday as well as qualifying (therefore Friday) due to the conditions being too similar to the longer race (thus more representative and yielding too much data to teams and fans), yesterday’s race was a more severe criticism against it than usual, because it resulted in easily-predictable racing that for me was less fun to follow than a free practice session would have been, in addition to all the usual objections. It feels like this time we managed to lose Saturday to the sprint, not just the other days of the weekend.

  21. Death, Taxes and Ross Brawn spouting garbage.

    Their minds on sprint races have clearly been made up and any sort of criticism is met with looking the other way.

    1. Agree. Liberty does whatever they want. Revenue driven, totally not into wanting to know what the audience thinks. These questionnaires they send are always leading and clearly avoid certain topics. They are hilarious every single time and mostly asking what sponsors you have seen during a broadcast. #Circusnotasport

  22. Im a f1 fan every thing f1 i watch. Even the rubnish bits. But they should rethink the sprint race. Maybe use special tyres. Extra grippy super degradable tyres… 40 or 50 % race. What ever makes it more exciting. Not gimicky tho. I want to see racing. Not just a shortened version of the full legnth race.

  23. Of course he is unmoved. His motivation is not racing but revenue. Clear cut story.

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