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Brawn says it’s “critical” Sprint Qualifying does not diminish the grand prix

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1’s new Sprint Qualifying format must not diminish the significance of the grand prix during a race weekend, says the sport’s motorsport director Ross Brawn.

Brawn has been pushing for the introduction of Sprint Qualifying – previously referred to as sprint races – on a trial basis at three rounds this year. Adding Sprint Qualifying sessions on Saturdays, and moving regular qualifying forward to Friday, will help “fill out the weekend”, said Brawn.

“The critical thing is to preserve the grand prix,” he told Sky. “We want the winner of the grand prix to come away from those weekends still being the strongest and most successful competitor of that weekend.

“But we want to fill out the weekend and we want to give the fans something more substantial to look at and follow on a Friday, something interesting on a Saturday.

“So as well as the Sprint Qualifying we’re going to have the normal qualifying on a Friday. You qualify to your position in the Sprint Qualifying and the Sprint Qualifying will take you forward to the race. So really we have a much fuller weekend and that’s what we want to explore.”

Brawn says F1 will not continue with the idea if the trial is considered unsuccessful.

“We want this opportunity to try it in three races this year. If it doesn’t work then we’ll put our hands up and we’ll go away and we’ll think about it again.

“But I’m quite optimistic about it. I think if you take the view of the whole weekend it’s got a lot going for it.”

As RaceFans revealed earlier today, the Sprint Qualifying sessions are expected to award points to the top three finishers.

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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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  • 19 comments on “Brawn says it’s “critical” Sprint Qualifying does not diminish the grand prix”

    1. I had so much hope for Ross Brawn to stop the gimmicks…

      How naive of me.

      1. It is indeed naive to call it a gimmick.

    2. Has anybody actually defined what success means for this experiment?

      1. A poll for us (I really want to see a poll today and identical one after the third test on this site).

        For Liberty it will be as simple as viewer numbers (I doubt there will be any meaningful Saturday attendance numbers).

      2. they’ll pick whatever number went up (viewers, overtakes, best moments vs laps ratios, number of times someone said something funny on twitter during the race…) and call it a success anyway. You can feel that already.

    3. I don’t think there’s any danger of it diminishing the main GP. I think a lot of the interest in the sunday race (for me anyway) is the strategy that plays out over the course of the 90 mins or so of racing. The sprint races won’t be very exciting imo, think how the early stages of the main race play out, maybe the first couple of laps are interesting but then there’s often a big slowdown in action until the latter part when the teams’ different strategies start to converge. I think in these sprint races, cars are going to run in formation after the first 2 or 3 laps and that’ll be it until the chequered flag.

      But I always think trying new things is a good idea (as long as they don’t make the ‘new thing’ permanent if it turns out to not have anything going for it). So let’s give it a chance and see how they play out.

      Even for the people who are convinced it’s going to be terrible, unless you let the FIA try these ‘mini races’ on a Saturday, they won’t stop proposing ideas of doing them in some form (whether that’s the current proposed idea or reverse grid etc etc.) until they give them a go. If they turn out badly, then they will stop talking about these ‘mini races’ for a while at least. The proof will be in the pudding.

      1. @t1redmonkey

        The sprint races won’t be very exciting imo, think how the early stages of the main race play out, maybe the first couple of laps are interesting but then there’s often a big slowdown in action until the latter part when the teams’ different strategies start to converge.

        I agree.

        Most of the action in the GP comes about as a result of strategy, Management & car balance changes over the race distance which results in car performance swings as the race goes on.

        It’s the periods of races where you have everyone doing similar pace on the same or very similar strategy that tend to be the most static & less interesting. It’s also those periods in races where all DRS tends to do is create those DRS trains where nobody seems to benefit from it & I think extending the DRS activation to 2 seconds for the sprint quali races (Something that is been discussed) will only make that worse.

    4. GS (@gsagostinho)
      13th March 2021, 16:06

      You qualify to your position in the Sprint Qualifying and the Sprint Qualifying will take you forward to the race.

      She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
      She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
      She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
      I don’t know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she’ll die!

      1. Stupid stupid stupid

    5. Then don’t do them because having a 2nd F1 race on Saturday is inevitably & unavoidably going to take something away from the Sunday race.

      It’s unavoidable that the headlines after the sprint race will include the word ‘winner’ so you already diminish the main race somewhat by having 2 winners over the weekend.
      If you get to Brazil as a title decider & the points awarded on Saturday win somebody the championship on that Saturday you have again diminished the race the next day.

      And those are just 2 example of many. It’s simply unavoidable to have 2 races & not have one take something away from the other even if it’s something small you are going to lose something because as Martin Brundle said earlier there are nearly always unintended consequences with changes like this & they nearly always tend to end up been seen as negative consequences.

      Artificial gimmicks especially often tend to have more negative unintended consequences be it DRS making things far too easy with low quality, unexciting highway passes or the high degredation tires resulting in extreme levels of management. It always ends up been bad but once you get a gimmick in it is often hard to back off from because you become too reliant on such things.

      1. It’s unavoidable that the headlines after the sprint race will include the word ‘winner’ so you already diminish the main race somewhat by having 2 winners over the weekend.

        Only on this site over the years there have been 437 references to ‘winner’ when reporting on qualifying.

        Never did I hear anybody complain that this diminished the main race.
        @roger-ayles

        1. @coldfly Exactly. Note also @roger-ayles still prefers to call it a sprint race rather than sprint qualifying, and he will likely refuse to call the sprint qualifying winner the pole sitter as well.

    6. If you are a team that regularly qualify at the back of the grid, why would you risk damaging car for advancing maybe a place or two in a race where you can’t score points (since allegedly only first 3 will get points)?
      You can damage your race parts and don’t have replacements. Best for you is to start a race and go back to the box.

      This new format would work for me, if only drivers who advance (overtake) the most, get the points.

      1. It’s not just damage – not racing (sorry, sprint qualifying) at all saves quite a bit of engine mileage that can be put to better use in the GP as a higher engine mode, or extra practice time at a later event.

        If there’s only points for the top 3, what are teams such as Williams, Haas and Alfa racing (sorry, sprint qualifying) for?

    7. Here is an idea. If you dont want to diminish your grand prix don’t have a pointless sprint race.

    8. Martin Elliott
      13th March 2021, 19:48

      Any ‘race’ inserted between Qualifying and a full length race adds an element of risk for the overall results the team want to achieve for WCC and then the WDC.

      It will be interesting to see if analysts try to get teams to explain how they with incorporate this in their algorithms. Like they did for the options on the extra ‘fastest lap point’ on pit stops and tyre strategies – FIA had to modify that as they hadn’t thought it through properly first time!!

      What about Grid Penalties for driving offences or broken parts changed? Will they go to the Sprint Race or the GP? Or even Sprint Race offences, or Parc Ferme breaches between the races?

    9. Formula 1’s new Sprint Qualifying format must not diminish the significance of the grand prix during a race weekend, says the sport’s motorsport director Ross Brawn.

      Well the best way to ensure that would be to hold only one F1 GP per weekend!
      Going to a GP was once a multi course banquet of Motor Racing. Starting on Saturday morning there would be Formula Vs and Formula Fords and Sports cars often driven by F1 drivers, all practising and trying to qualify with a couple small support race in between.
      Sunday was just all racing starting around 10:00 leading up to the main course of the F1 race mid afternoon. I don’t remember those weekends being boring or needing to be filled out.

      1. @johnrkh That I am aware of Brawn’s mandate is to look after F1, on behalf of which he is speaking and acting. Do the hundreds of millions of viewers not at the race get to see the other events of which you speak and would they actually fulfill what could be a more exciting F1 Friday and Saturday?

        1. That’s entirely up to the FIA/Liberty isn’t @robbie . The media the camera crews are all there already the additional costs of broadcasting the other events would be minimal. The other issue would be who would want to watch these races, I would say anyone with an interest in some fantastically close cut and thrust Motor Racing.
          The broadcasters are always interested in quality sports content, having some of the best up and coming young drivers from the country holding the GP, fighting to be noticed by the movers and shakers of F1 would surely provide that.
          It would also provide an opportunity for F1 drivers to compete in a different category. Perhaps a one make 10 lap sprint no points just the satisfaction of beating their opponents in an identical car. Maybe that could be the qualifying race :)

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