George Russell, Williams FW43B shakedown, Silverstone, 2021

Russell: F1 “could just be patient” and wait for 2022 instead of adding sprint races

2021 F1 season

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New technical regulations for the 2022 F1 season will deliver better racing and potentially eliminate the need for changes to the weekend format, says George Russell.

The Williams driver questioned the sport’s proposal to introduce sprint races this year. A working group is considering potential regulations which could be passed before the championship begins in two-and-a-half weeks’ time.

When asked about the proposal by media last week, Russell said he was still unsure what the details of the sprint race plan are.

“I don’t know if you guys have any more info, I’ve not really heard what the ideas for the sprint race are and how the formats would work,” he said.

“I think the idea of mixing the weekend up a little bit can be interesting,” he added, describing the two-day race weekend format trialled at last year’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix as a change that “worked well.”

However he believes changes to the cars are a more powerful way to produce better racing than tweaks to the race weekend format.

F1 almost had Saturday sprint races 35 years ago – this time it probably will
“Ultimately, the racing in Formula 1 needs to improve and I think that will improve in 2022 when the car and the technical regulations basically allow the drivers to fight,” Russell added. “So we could just be patient.”

He is hopeful any format change could play into the hands of Williams, who ended 2020 point-less. “I’m not too sure. It’ll be interesting and it will open opportunities which, in our position, I think we’re looking for.”

Russell’s team mate Nicholas Latifi said he was “open to the idea” of adding sprint races, which may be given the name ‘Super Qualifying’.

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“The weekend format of Formula 1 has been largely unchanged for quite a long time now,” said Latifi, who is entering his second season of grand prix racing. “As George mentioned, the way it was in Imola, the new structure, I did enjoy quite a bit, the change was kind of refreshing.”

One change which has already been agreed for the upcoming championship is a reduction in Friday practice session lengths from 90 minutes to 60.

“We already have a bit less practice this year, so a slight difference,” said Latifi. “But I think F1 shouldn’t really be afraid to change something. Change, I think, is good.”

However Latifi warned against introducing “gimmicks” to spice up the action.

“As long as it doesn’t, from personal point of view, create any unnecessary gimmicks, false racing, I think that’s the main thing. Formula 1 has to remain true to what it is which is obviously the outright development and the best technology, best cars, the best drivers winning. So as long as that stays the same, if there is a few changes to the format here and there, I’m completely for it.

“It could create more opportunities as well which, again, for the position we might be in this year, might be welcome. Then, as George mentioned, looking ahead to next year, I think the regulations will, if they do what they’re supposed to do, hopefully… create a bit more excitement.”

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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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39 comments on “Russell: F1 “could just be patient” and wait for 2022 instead of adding sprint races”

  1. At first glance, I mistakenly read the title as Russell ”could just be patient” referring to a possible Mercedes drive for next year. Silly me.

    1. Same here, @jerejj

      Not surprisingly, the title is very opportunistic; choosing the few words that support @KeithCollantine‘s point of view.
      It could as well have been: Russell: “I think the idea of mixing the weekend up a little bit can be interesting
      Or: Latifi: “if there is a few changes to the format here and there, I’m completely for it.

      I’ve never been an ardent defender of sprint races, but I’m actively supporting testing something which could give us some more full out racing during a weekend (which all fans here seem to want).
      Just the increasingly entrenched opposition to such a test makes me more vocal in pointing out the potential positive impacts.

      1. Taking something you know works, and works well, and fiddling with it while ignoring the actual problems in F1, is just daft. It’s rearranging deck chairs while the ship sinks. They’re hoping that by making a “dramatic” change to the format, they can hide the fact that they’ve been progressively screwing up the competition since 2009’s “almost successful” attempt at leveling the playing field.

        I blame their relentless drive to crush innovation and development in the name of “cost savings”. The teams with money spend their way around the restrictions, and everyone else is just hoping to score some points.

        I think F1 as a sport has 10 years or less of life left unless the FIA and/or Liberty pull their heads out of their posteriors.

        1. COTD right there

        2. grat I see nothing wrong with taking something that works well, and asking if it can be even better. Is that not what teams do with their cars at all times? Is that not how millions of small and large businesses globally spend every day?

          You seem to not be appreciating that indeed that have tackled the actual problems in F1, that being on the financial side as well as the car side. And let’s not bring in ‘since 2009′ because Liberty only took over in 2017, and can have only started affecting things since then, and have done so as quickly, contractually, and as well as any entity we could have possibly expected to upon taking over from BE.

          Sounds to me you are well stuck in the past thinking this is all just more BE type stuff, and nothing could be further from the truth, as it seems you think Liberty along with the teams haven’t done a single thing to progress. You’re highly insulting them with your ignorance of their hard work since they took over. Hard work that has been done with the teams’ collaboration and cooperation. Where have you been?

          1. @robbie you say that other post is “stuck in the past thinking this is all just more BE type stuff” – but according to Bernie, Liberty Media are reusing one of his old proposals and simply changing the way that it is presented to the press and public.

            I don’t think that things are necessarily quite as “night and day” as you suggest they are and, if I’m honest, think you are possibly setting yourself up for disappointment because your expectations are so high that I feel that it will be almost impossible for those expectations to be reached.

      2. “Ultimately, the racing in Formula 1 needs to improve and I think that will improve in 2022 when the car and the technical regulations basically allow the drivers to fight,” Russell added. “So we could just be patient.”

        The title is a fair interpretation in my opinion what specifically is your hang up I am curious?

        1. @ryanoceros, because they chose the apparently negative quote as a title, rather than the more positive one (which I quoted above).
          But even worse, the ‘apparently negative’ quote was not even the full sentence; the second part full sentence was as follows: “We could just be patient but equally…I’m not too sure. It will be interesting and it will open up opportunities which, in our position, I think we’re looking for.”
          It appears that Russell is a lot more open and positive to testing sprint races than we can read from this site (I don’t have the full interview though).

          1. And check out another website reporting on the same quotes a few days ago which summarised it in the headline as follows: “Russell delivers “bring it on” call for F1 sprint races“.
            I don’t think that one is perfect either, and not a site I rate highly. But it just shows that exactly the same interview and quotes could be presented in two totally different ways.
            Hence my comment above.

          2. I wanted to add a link to another site, but did not pass ‘uoᴉʇɐɹǝpoɯ’

            try this link wwwgpfanscom/en/articles/62498/russell-delivers-bring-it-on-call-for-f1-sprint-races/

  2. Yes, indeed. The idea afterall of these changes was that they would make the cars more easy to race between themselves. So surely we should give that the chance to show before any such “shaking up of the format”

    1. Nope. Gotta have sprinklers! Shortcuts! Hey! This random combination of events produced a great race! We need more randomness! We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs! Harrumph!! Harrumph!!

      1. I’d rather have sprinklers or a pre-race hosing down of the track than sprint races to decide the starting order for the race.

        But honestly as long as long as liberty media doesn’t go as extreme as the BS F2 reverse grid for the reverse grid I don’t care so much. Keep it simple and ensure the weekend format will award the best driver/car combination whatevs.

  3. Russell must’ve read my comments on her yesterday when I said the same thing!

    I could understand them “mixing things up” if we had the same regs for the next few years and the F1 stakeholders were worried that racing had become stagnant. But we have new regs on the horizon and the end of last season saw a closing up of the field with the potential for really excellent battles.

    We already have changes to the floor this season and new tyres for which the teams have no data, so we already have some new variables to mix things up.

    Having different rules for different races is bonkers, it also makes the sport harder for newcomers to get into if race weekends have different procedures and formats.

  4. James Coulee
    9th March 2021, 9:39

    As long as top team engineers aim their development to make their car great at the front in clean air (that’s how you win championships) and to produce as much dirty air as possible (they don’t want to get passed), no rule set will work other than turning F1 into a spec series. The new generation cars will rapidly be as unraceable as the current ones, as that’s the aim of the top teams’ development race.

    To make these cars raceable F1 must provide a reason for the engineers to develop cars that can race. That’s, unfortunately, the only solution that rejects a spec car formula and keeps the innovation ADN of F1.

    (That was the only merit of the polemic reverse championship qualifying sprint race: it would force teams to develop cars that can pass as best as possible, otherwise Sunday’s race would be compromised.)

    1. James Coulee, from an aeronautical point of view, much of what you are saying doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

      Firstly, why would you want to produce a car that “produces as much dirty air as possible”? Doing that tends to be actively detrimental to the performance of your own car, as creating a highly turbulent wake behind you means you are having to energise that air mass as the car passes through it – that tends to markedly increase the drag of your own car, and quite often the way that you would have to design the components on your car to create that sort of turbulent wake would probably do more to slow your car down instead.

      Furthermore, why would you even bother wanting to try and put a small winglet or some other device on your car to try and create more dirty air when the open wheels on the car create a vastly larger turbulent wake behind them? One of the major areas of aerodnyamic research on the cars has been to try and manage that aerodynamic wake to stop it ruining the performance of your own car – that matters a lot more to teams.

      There have been vague claims of teams wanting to “produce as much dirty air as possible” so they don’t get passed, but nobody has ever provided clear proof of any such aerodynamic devices appearing on a car. Indeed, even rumours of such devices are pretty vague at best – the Ferrari F92A is sometimes claimed to have had some such devices but, if it did, it certainly didn’t help them given that car ended up being their worst for over a decade.

      Equally, you say that designer want to make a car that is “great at the front in clean air” – but all cars will perform at their best in “clean air”. The basic laws of fluid dynamics dictates that most aerodynamic surfaces will work more efficiently with a stable airflow over it – if an aerodynamic device is less sensitive to turbulent airflow than another, that is really more of a happy accident, but no device will work great in “dirty air”.

  5. The risk still stands though, that sprint races will change nothing except allow the front runners to increase the gap between themselves and the rest of the pack.

  6. Cars more able to race closely amongst each other is super-exciting and I’m so stoked for next year, but their ability to do so will only be seen on Sundays. Practice and quali are done with drivers intentionally keeping themselves away from each other, which will still be the case no matter the technical design of cars. Waiting until next year for more exciting Sundays still won’t answer the question as to if there might be a more exciting way to qualify.

    If they go ahead with this three weekend experiment this year, Brawn and Domenicali have said they do not want it to affect the Championship in an unfair or disruptive way, and I believe them for why would they, and why would the teams agree to that? It would be something we would actually be able to witness, with knowing that once the cars are better able to race more closely, sprint qualifying could be even more exciting next year than this.

    And Friday would be a more potent day to which to look forward. Some have said that’s a bad day as it is a work day and harder to get to physically or on TV. Isn’t that part of the point? If it was a more potent day more people would try to attend or record it and watch it later (what I always do) and isn’t that a beauty of streaming? I’d make more effort to not hear who won pole on a Friday for super qualifying, but if I did I’d not be too miffed as there would still be the ‘real’ qualifying to look forward to on Saturday, for Sundays race.

    Oh but Friday now is such a peaceful and relaxed day to be at the track. Ok, but that’s a tiny percentage of the global audience, and not a reason for F1 to not want to make it more exciting, but is exactly a reason to do so. When have we really heard it expressed how ‘perfect’ Friday is as just a practice day, ‘and please don’t ever change it’ other than now when there’s an idea out there to change it?

    ‘Less action not more,’ or ‘everything is exactly ideal now’ doesn’t seem to make any more sense to me than experimenting to do better. They are ‘allowed’ to change the cars for the better, but not the practice or qualifying format that wouldn’t look any different with the better cars?

    I do agree with many that there should be no points awarded on Saturday, as that would be the best way to ensure no disruption to the Championships. If they agree that points should be awarded, then I will assume for now that their agreed upon reasons for that will make some sense when made clear to us, and certainly nobody seems terribly turned off with the single fastest lap point on offer. What if for super qualifying the point(s) they are debating the pros and cons on now as we speak, was simply something as mundane as the existing fastest lap point? The winner of super qualifying wins pole, the rest of the grid is established as usual on Saturday, but the fastest lap on Saturday earns a point, thus taking care of the ‘incentive to race’ that seems to be the main pro for a point or points on Saturday. Just as it adds an element to a race that might have the drivers settled in and resigned to their finishing positions now. I still overwhelmingly think the incentive to place as high up on the grid as possible should be incentive enough, but as some have rightly said there’s more risk in close racing than in flying lap running. That’s ok to me. Risk equals tension and excitement, and shouldn’t be shied away from because of that. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of racing. Well…it is even if they ultimately change nothing but the cars.

    1. Well said. Especially agree with the last paragraph. I saw yesterday someone suggest moving the point for fastest lap to the Saturday sprint race; I like that idea. As you say, getting a good position for the Grand Prix should really be incentive enough – I’m confident that if you put 20 of the world’s best racing drivers on the grid and ask them to race, they will race whether points are on offer or not!

      1. I’m confident that if you put 20 of the world’s best racing drivers on the grid and ask them to race, they will race whether points are on offer or not!

        And if that is not the case, then we have a bigger issue than yes or no testing a Quali McQualirace session.

        1. @coldfly – If I was in 3rd with a big gap to the car behind, the options would be to turn everything down and protect the engine (potentially giving me a bit more to use on Sunday) or to push hard and try and overtake to start 1 position higher – if it goes wrong, I’ll start from last.

          I’d take any opportunities that fell into my lap but otherwise, it’d protect the car and make sure I had the best possible chance of maximising my points return from the weekend. If there are no points for Saturday, that means saving what you can for Sunday.

          Can you imagine Mercedes letting their drivers race each other for pole if there are no points at stake?

          1. Does anyone actually believe that these “qualifying” races will start any differently to races or that the first 10 laps will be any different?

            What I can’t understand is why anyone thinks there’ll be any “racing” just because it’s shorter.

          2. @petebaldwin Other scenarios being, and something we should all hope for, it won’t be just the two Mercs that will be left so far out front that they have to debate racing each other for pole. They shouldn’t ‘need’ points but should do it for pride and the more advantageous starting spot for Sunday, but yeah of course we have also seen teams instruct their drivers to stand pat and not risk anything. Many many scenarios are possible, not just the ones that suit one’s argument, which is why they actually run the races before handing out the trophies, and why they want to trial this.

          3. @dbradock Even taking that worst case scenario, which could automatically be changed just by having next years cars far less negatively affected in what will be less dirty air, super qualifying would still be more exciting imho than a handful of minutes of the hour in the current format of solo flying laps. Worst case scenario little will change in the predictable order of things, so they (Liberty) will have not upset the apple cart artificially such as reverse grids would do, but it will have been more exciting to watch.

      2. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with this final sentence in relation to F1.
        The drivers will do what the team tell them to. If there isn’t a good chance of significant gains by taking a risk, they will tell their drivers to conserve for Sunday and beyond.
        They do that in every race with points payouts now – I see no reason why this would suddenly change in the positive (for us viewers) for a qualifying ‘race’ – especially so without points.

      3. @harrydymond Thank you and ooh yeah taking it past what I suggested, and again if they deem a point or points a desirable thing, I really like that wording of simply moving the fastest lap point away from Sunday onto Saturday’s super qualifying. If they must. Still prefer no points for qualifying though, but as I’ve said I’m confident in the new-look F1 having valid reasons if they deem it so.

    2. Coventry Climax
      9th March 2021, 12:55

      In motor racing, it is impossible to have all contestants line up side by side behind the start-finish line. So the question is, who is on the front row and who’s on the next etc. Qualifying was invented to sort out the order based on who’s fastest, for the simple reason that it was regarded safest when the slower cars would not be in front. That safety-thing is apparently still deemed valid: there’s blue flags waved for slower cars to move aside when a faster one approaches.
      In my eyes, reverse grid and such are therefor utter nonsense.
      Cars being able to race more closely is something we’ve been promised for a long time, but the thing never really materialised, for all sorts of reasons. Now we get a new set of rules for next year, with the promise they finally sorted it out. I personally do not believe it until I’ve seen it. That might be because I think the FIA’s level of reliability has fallen way below my standards, but hey, who am I.
      Practice and qualifying are done with drivers trying to stay out of each others hair for good reason. Practice, certainly, is not intended to be a fight, and when drivers intentionally start to block each other from setting a laptime in qualifying, that is deemed unsportsmanlike and it is even punished – rightly so. So I have BIG question marks to the whole thing of making qualifying more exciting. I enjoyed qualifying best when it was an hour of timed laps for everyone, even if the first half hour nothing much happened. (Easy change if you must: do this for half an hour instead of a full hour.) The last minutes were very exciting. The three-tier qualifying we have now, it trying to repeat those last minutes two more times. It however, also started the notion of the three-tier championship: Frontrunners, ‘best of the rest’ or midfield and backmarkers. If that’s what you’re after, why don’t you watch Le Mans? That said, I do feel qualifying is reasonably OK as it is now, and often even more exciting than sundays current resources saving procession. No one asked for more exciting qualifying until someone at the FIA had obstipation and came up with silly ideas. Practice and qualifying are meant to be preparation for the one, big event.
      In another article, Simon Roberts (Williams) apparently said: “there’s some pretty wise people looking at that.” To me, that’s a silly thing to say. Having intelligent people look into unneccessary or even downright silly things (like, say toothpaste with stripes, which has no effect on the health of teeth), is just a waste of intelligence, and that is, in itself, stupid.
      You may believe Brawn and Domenicali, I see no reason to, until they have proven their words true, not before. Giving points in the sprint races (how many, where, when, how often, test or the real thing?) WILL affect the championship. Even sprint races without points will affect the championship, as it’s a second qualifying.
      Fridays were never intended to be watched or followed by big amounts of fans, as neither are all of the days before that or even before the start of the season, with all the things going on in the factories. They are essentially things that take place behind closed doors. Sure, as a fan I’m mightily interested in what’s going on at those times, but the nature of the sport is that I’ll have to be patient and wait for the right moment. And it’s not workdays. I’m fine with this taking place behind more or less closed doors, what I’m not fine with, is an FIA doing business, coming up with immature, incomplete ideas, and changing rules midseason behind closed doors.
      Being opposed to silly ideas is by no means the same as opposed to any change, no matter how often that’s used as an ‘argument’. Change is in F1’s nature, it’s called development, and mighty interesting. It is the direction of the changes that those currently opposed are against, not development in itself.
      With the current system, there is no problem with “the incentive to race”, that is only introduced with silly ideas. But that is how the FIA seems to work: not solve the problems at hand, but just introduce new ones. That’s what creates an unsolvable, untransparent mess over time and explains – to me- why fans turn away.
      @roger-ayles gives a great summary on what fans generally would like, in his comment on the article “F1 weighing pros and cons of awarding points for sprint races”. It’s at the bottom, but it’s a top comment. “pros and cons”, ha! What pros?

      1. Spot on! Not likely to qualify for CoTD with your full distance description. If only you could have developed a ‘sprint’ version. ;-)

  7. Thank you for being a voice of reason, George!

  8. My issue with the whole sprint races idea is that it wasn’t even thought up to answer the question of how to “improve the show”, its in answer to the question how do we make Saturdays’ more profitable to race organisers because they currently can’t afford to host a grand prix. A commercial question that should have a commercial answer, most likely a long hard look at the monopoly Liberty have on advertising and image rights or a complete restructure of hosting fees. The fact they’re not even considering this shows the same short term maximise profits now with no consideration for the future that leads to exactly this kind of problem to begin with.

    1. Indeed.

      Originally I believed their reasoning was to spice up the show, hence the concept of the reverse grid, but that has died away and they’re still talking about making changes.

      Looking back now I think it has always been about boosting Saturday viewership, and ironically I think it may have been better received from the beginning if they’d just said that.

    2. Rather than attempt to create any additional value Liberty should strip-mine the existing – unlikely to be first choice (but it is what lead to exactly the situation you’re describing).

  9. Do the organisers expect the new cars to fail in their bid to create closer, competitive racing? I wonder if the organisers have a forecast which makes them expect more of the same so they don’t want to wait and see.

  10. I’m with George on this one, 100%.

  11. Clever thinking by Mr Russell! I agree 100%.

  12. Dear George, my reply is a plain

  13. As one would expect, the comments in this arena are generally related to racing, quality of “The Show”. competition for the WCC and WDC and the technical aspects related to how to make it happen. Makes sense.
    What seems to be absent is a recognition of the goals and mandate for Liberty, the organization that has the most $$$ invested in all of this.
    When they paid as much as they did for F1 Rights (yes, we can hear BE laughing allll the way to the bank) they were forced to find ways to recoup the costs and make some form of return. This is how we get to 20+, now 23 races in a year. Along comes the pandemic and all the planning is out the window. Again, hats off to them for fighting off the doom-sayers and getting on with it, but the current situation is not sustainable.
    While we are enjoying our sport, as much as we do, Liberty can not continue with the current format and limited revenues. They need to turn a profit or the whole thing will wind up in the bin at some point. Even getting back to “normal” will not be enough.
    I hate the idea of sprint races and messing with what is currently a good thing, but, going from the current two primetime TV broadcast events, qualifying and race, to three nearly as and potentially more lucrative broadcast slots, is brilliant. It will bring in more advertising opportunities, let the hosting venues have (soon we hope) 50% more sellable seats, (taken that current Friday practice is not really that big a money maker) and raise the profile of both Friday and Saturday running.
    This whole exercise is not about racing, competition or spicing up the show, it is to create more show and that is something that Liberty can sell.

  14. With the huge focus on cost reduction. I have to ask, how is adding a sprint race going to assist Teams in reducing costs? (contradiction)
    Plus the likelihood of teams limping through or missing the main event as a result of damage during the sprint race?

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