F1 should drop Sprint Qualifying plan if trial run proves “negative” – Leclerc

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc believes Formula 1’s experiment with sprint qualifying is “good for the sport” but said it must be honestly assessed at the end of the season.

F1 confirmed this week it will introduce Sprint Qualifying races at Silverstone, Monza and one yet-to-be-confirmed venue this season. Leclerc backed the plan, saying “it’s good to to try this at least.”

However he said F1 must be prepared to drop the format if it doesn’t prove to be a success. “We have to be objective enough at the end of the season, if this has been negative, just obviously come back to the normal race format, which is already a very, very good format,” he said.

Leclerc said he will remain open-minded about the experiment. “It may be that it also adds something to the race weekend which we didn’t expect and that would be just better for the sport.

“I don’t have any particular opinion for now, but I’m really looking forward to try it. And hopefully it will bring something positive for the fans.”

Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr believes the 2021 season presents a good opportunity for F1 to experiment with its race weekends.

“Formula 1 is doing a good effort, a good job by trying to experiment with formats,” he said. “I think this is a year in between a big rule change next year that it kind of allows you to experiment a bit with this kind of stuff.”

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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10 comments on “F1 should drop Sprint Qualifying plan if trial run proves “negative” – Leclerc”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    1st May 2021, 9:43

    Thing I’m not too sure about it the venues they’ve selected for this: a focus on tracks where overtaking is very much possible (I read that the third one was supposed to be Brazil but that GP is a big questionmark at this point in time). Which seems very logical, but on the other hand it doesn’t. What if the three GP’s prove to be a thumbs up and it then also gets applied on tracks such as Monaco where it hasn’t been put to the test? You’d base a new qualifying format on tracks where overtaking is very much possible and apply it to tracks where it isn’t.

    I’m all for trying new things and the new format seems alright, but I’d rather see it be tested somewhere where it would immediately shows the problems than try to avoid the problems now and face them later on when it has been fully implemented.

    1. Ross Brawn has suggested that even if successful, there is the possibility is wouldn’t be implemented everywhere. He’s suggesting that different circuits could have different Quali formats. Personally, I have to say I would probably prefer 1 consistent system across a season, but I could also get behind ideas such as Sprint Quali at some rounds with good overtaking, normal qualifying at some other tracks, and a one or two lap ‘superpole’ style shoot-out at street rounds like Monaco or Singapore. Especially the last one. But yeah, preferably, it stays consistent across all rounds, perhaps with the exceptions being these trial events.

    2. Alianora below also makes a good point @barryfromdownunder. They may be testing it at these venues to see if it works in an environment where overtaking is likely, and if it doesn’t work there then they can assume it won’t work anywhere, and scrap the whole thing.

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        1st May 2021, 12:10

        That’s a very fair point indeed. However, doesn’t that kinda create a situation in which you can’t ‘win’ either way? If it fails on these tracks, then it gets scrapped for sure. If it works, you’d still need to try it on tracks such as Monaco. So why not do it in 1 season and just get it over with?

        But as you said, they’d probably not bother with it on tracks such as Monaco to begin with. Which, again, as you said, creates this ‘sometimes we do this and sometimes that’, which isn’t exactly making it more simple like FOM wants. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

        1. I expect the chance to try it at Monaco had already evaporated by the time they managed to finalise plans. they were earlier trying to do one at Montreal, but that was changed to Brazil long before Canada was cancelled, again likely because it got too late. I think the only other places to really try it would be Sochi, but that would mean 2 sprint weekends in a row, or Abu Dhabi.

  2. I think the idea is that if it doesn’t work at these three races, it won’t work anywhere – and that if it somehow works at these venues, that’s still more trial testing than any F1 format idea’s ever previously had, thus worth giving it a go elsewhere. (Liberty has already said Monaco won’t have this format, and I assume they are reserving the right to use it or not elsewhere according to their own judgement).

    1. Headline could just as easily be Leclerc says he’s really looking forward to sprint qualifying.
      Monaco is unique with track restrictions, Friday off and, I imagine, doesn’t want any more attendees.

  3. This should not be happening this year! They should at least wait until the rule changes of next year produce, (or not) better racing. Then they can experiment with it. This year and next year could produce hugely different results, especially if the racing is supposed to be that better in 2022.
    Will there be a Qualifying for the sprint race on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning If so, will the practice start on Thursday?

  4. Jockey Ewing
    1st May 2021, 12:00

    They should analyze the data comeing from the sprint qualifications, instead of coming up with polls with a good amount of leading questions after trying the sprint qualifying out. But they have done the latter for example at F1 Fan Voice.
    But instead of somehow estimating the likelihood of adding a non-artifical randomness, while they have all the specialists to do so, they will likely have the poll version, to measure how much it fits the average taste.

    To do so a sample size of 3 is not enough. Especially as they have selected popular venues, which fits the current cars well, which recently provided a good amount of overtakes, and highly rated GP weekends. That is just a PR & marketing way of self justification in this case.
    There is no point in risking anything at Monaco, or at Yas Marina for 3 points, because those tracks are so challenging, that the drivers are happy if they can put a lap together without a micro-mistake, and as everyone does small mistakes eventually, it evens istelf out, but still hard to overtake against a micro-mistake, it turns the race at similar tracks often quite “eventless”.

    On the other hand, even if at this season the sprint qualis will be a bit eventless, they could be more eventful if cars would have less aero dependency, and less vulnerable tyres. So probably they should have test it at a later season for the first time, because the current aero rules will be changed, and the tyres will change as well.

    I am pretty sure that there will be leading questions, and they will further experiment with the format at a later season, unless it will be totally unsuccesful at this season.

  5. I think Charles is a bit naive, even if assessed negatively, it will be a “massive success”. This experiment sounds more and more like a permanent experiment.;)

Comments are closed.