Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Drivers expect new sprint race plan will go ahead after meeting Domenicali

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 drivers and team principals have indicated the sport will proceed with a plan to introduce sprint races this year.

Drivers met with the sport’s new CEO Stefano Domenicali yesterday, during which they discussed F1’s plan to trial the Saturday races at three rounds this year.

While drivers were reluctant to share details of the meeting, Pierre Gasly indicated F1 will press ahead with the proposal, which requires approval from the F1 Commission before the season begins in two weeks’ time.

“We discussed it,” said Gasly. “I don’t want to go public. We did this meeting to see all together whether we can move the sport forward and improve the show for all the people and all the fans, because that’s what we all want.

“The main target is to improve the racing. I think all drivers are united in trying to make the car performance closer to each other, improve the show.

“And I think this year F1 is willing to try the sprint race, try to see if it can make it more entertaining for the people back at home watching on TV or coming to the track. I think it will be interesting. We’ll try it on some occasions and see how it is.”

Daniel Ricciardo, who expressed reservations about the proposal earlier this year, and Fernando Alonso both said they support the plan to introduce sprint races.

The sprint races will take place on Saturdays, following a regular qualifying session on Friday, and set the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. The exact details of the races, including their length and whether points would be awarded, are yet to be agreed. Various proposals are believed to be under consideration.

Team principals are also supportive of the plan. “The principle of it, from a promoters’ point of view I understand why they’re trying to do it,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner. “There’s always a million reasons why not to do something. But I think the concept’s interesting.”

“It’s something [that] if it’s what the promoters want to do then we are happy to support,” he added.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and McLaren’s Andreas Seidl, who opposed a similar sprint race plan in previous seasons, also indicated they are prepared to support the current proposal.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 24 comments on “Drivers expect new sprint race plan will go ahead after meeting Domenicali”

    1. Ugh 🤦‍♂️

      Please, please, don’t offer points for this. Don’t allow the focus to be taken from the main Sunday race.

      1. I hear you say you want points for this. Ok, noted. We’ll see what we can do. It’s anyway what the vast majority of the fans and teams want so you’re in good company.

      2. They have to offer points otherwise why a sprint RACE it\s extra wear and money for teams.

        1. No. It is not a race, it is ‘super qualifying.’ Offering points would be a terrible idea, because, as I have said all along, it devalues a race win, and messes up the record books. This can be a new version of qualifying, and nothing more, so no points should be awarded.

          1. How do you figure? Did the last decade mess up the record books because in the 70s the championship had 10 less races, 10 more drivers, thousand of less km driven and 9–6–4–3–2–1 points awarded to the first 6 finishers? If football evolved in the last 50 years at the same pace as Formula 1, Pele would have been a one-legged Messi. No sport has evolved, in terms of sheer performance, at the pace of Formula 1 so the argument that this somehow messes up the record books is a bit silly.

    2. They don’t want to touch discussing it during the testing coverage because they know how massively unpopular this artificial gimmick idea is.

      You just look at the twitter hastags they keep asking people to send messages into to & you can see that only about 2 people have said anything positive about the gimmick idea.

      You remember when Liberty claimed they wouldn’t introduce artificial elements or gimmicks. Just goes to show what there word is worth. They don’t understand the SPORT or it’s fans & I sadly expect to see them try & force through more things like this even if fans are hugely against them because the super knowledgeable, dedicated fans are clearly not the ‘fans’ they care about.

      I hope it falls flat after the 3 gimmick weekends this year because if it’s a concept they force through permanently then i’m just not going to continue watching as it will be the final proof to me that F1 is going in directions I want no part of. The decline into Indycar+ will be complete & I have no interest in that. My 45 year love of F1 will be over because F1 simply won’t exist anymore.

      1. @roger-ayles Maybe you should take your fight up with the teams who also seem quite happy with this arrangement.
        All of them…
        Do they not understand the sport either, or do they simply realise that survival and profit require sacrifice and compromise?

      2. @roger-ayles Continuing to spew nonsense I see. Somehow they understood the sport enough to bring it back from the brink of extinction, and all you can do is spew venom over this issue. Loved it for 45 years? I take that to mean even through the most recent years of BE that brought upon us heavy, complicated, expensive, clean air dependent cars, on joke tires, needing the truly worse gimmick of all call DRS? Wow. your level of ingratitude is astounding. With F1 friends like you Liberty needs no enemies. Truly, if you decide to stop watching the sport will be better off and you will be replaced by 2 grateful new fans who will get to see a more fair and balanced entity with cars able to race closely and drivers actually able to have genuine combat with their rivals, confident in their cars even in dirty air. Oh what you’ll be missing, just because they want to explore for a more exciting way to qualify. What a bizarre place for you to draw your line in the sand after all they have done post-BE. And all with the teams’ blessing. What a shame.

    3. Lol every answer sounds like they are talking with a gun held to their head

      1. It definitely sounds like they were told what was going to happen and warned not to cause a fuss about it. If it was just a discussion and they realised that they all back this idea (as it being suggested), they’d have nothing to keep private. We already know about the plan, what tracks it will be tried at and we also have had it confirmed that details such as points, the length of the races and so on haven’t been agreed yet.

      2. This still sounds like it is straight from Bernie’s book of wacky ideas.

    4. The thing i’ve heard is that the sprint race will likely be 30-35 minutes long with half points been awarded.

      The sprint races will apparently have some sort of branded title, For example it could be something like ‘Saturday Super-Qualifying sprint presented by DHL’.

      Have also heard they may look at making the whole presentation around it as well as the broadcast of it to be quite flashy to make it seem more visually exciting.

      1. @gt-racer 100 km is the minimum distance mentioned, but Monza’s sprint race (18 laps) might even take less than 20 minutes, given the average lap speed combined with carrying considerably less fuel, and subsequently less stress on tyres.

      2. The sprint races will apparently have some sort of branded title, For example it could be something like ‘Saturday Super-Qualifying sprint presented by DHL’.

        I still hope they’ll ask the fans to name it; I’ll vote for ‘Quali McQualirace’.

      3. It sounds like a lot of the points are going to be even more unpopular.

        Few seem to want points to be awarded, whilst the heavy handed commercialism and a focus on flashy presentation will make many feel it is a case of style over substance.

    5. But the length would be 100 km, i.e., the lowest number of laps needed to reach 100.000 km as has been mentioned before, meaning the following number of laps for the following places:
      Montreal sprint race: 23 laps, 100.303 km
      Monza sprint race: 18 laps, 104.274 km
      Interlagos sprint race: 24 laps, 103.416 km
      Silverstone in case: 17 laps, 100.147 km

    6. I think all the criticism of these sprint races is valid for the many reasons that have been mentioned. However, I don’t think this change is as profound to the integrity of the sport as many people are making it out to be. They would essentially be increasing the Grand Prix by 50% and dividing it in two days, 33% on Saturday and the remaining 64% on Sunday. There will be no reverse grid gimmicks and a race over two days might throw in other variables like weather that teams have to contend with. I doubt there would be as much backlash if the race was increased by 50% on Sunday, especially considering the total kms of a race has been changed several times in the past.

      I am not sold on the idea but have no problem with it being tested.

    7. Weirdly, this was mentioned as being confirmed on BBC Radio 1 sports news a couple of days ago. The report mentioned that Silverstone had been confirmed as one of the 3 tracks which will host a sprint race this year. I jumped straight on racefans and the F1 site to read more about it, but the story was nowhere to be found.

      I was confused as to why they’d confirmed it on the radio, but there was no mention of it on their or any other sporting sites. If it turns out to be true then they got a really early scoop on that one. I’m starting to think the reporter just mispoke and meant that Silverstone was being considered rather than confirmed.

      1. I’m positive I saw it on the BBC website as well. Seems to have been spiked.

    8. Unpopular opinion: I actually like the idea. No tire strategy, just give’em all the same set and let them race for a couple of laps. At least I’ll start watching saturdays, I stopped watching qualis a long time ago.

      1. @eljueta They said on Sky that the current thinking is that they would be given free choice on which tyre compounds they each run.

    9. During the very brief moment they discussed it on the testing coverage Croft, Brundle & Karun spent more time pushing for a reverse grid race than they did discussing what seems like we are actually going to get. In terms of the current proposal they all seemed rather down on the concept as is & all felt that more artificial elements needed to be added.

      Brundle is adamant it needs to be a reverse grid because it would create tons of overtaking, Hopefully keep the championship alive longer & give the small teams time to race at the front.

      Karun felt they needed special super soft tyres that suffer extreme levels of degredation as tyres falling off a cliff would create tons of excitement. Brundle was against this as he thinks it should be a flat out sprint race & he doesn’t want drivers winning because of “Bubblegum tyres”.

      Croft feels that if they do sprint races they should be separate from the overall championship. Should be reverse grid & be for a special sprint race championship that awards extra money rather than just points.

      Ted didn’t want to get involved in the discussion.

      1. @stefmeister As I pointed out the other day on the round-up, the half hour video SKY did the other day ahead of testing, where much of it was about what they expected for this whole season, did not mention a peep about the super-qualifying, let alone these other ideas you are saying they have now spoken about.

        So anyway we know the reverse-grids concept was dropped, and this just sounds more like their wish lists than anything, with none of them being on the same page as the other.

        This just to say, as I did the other day, for anyone who has tried to sell the argument that this sprint qualifying format is all about revenues, and all influenced by SKY’s motivation of influencing F1 just for their ratings, it seems obvious to me nothing could be further from the truth. Sounds to me like Liberty and Brawn and the teams are much more interested in preserving F1’s DNA than SKY is.

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