Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021

Tsunoda concerned Sprint Qualifying will take practice time away from rookies

2021 F1 season

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Yuki Tsunoda is concerned Formula 1’s new Sprint Qualifying format will take valuable practice time away from rookie drivers at unfamiliar circuits.

Formula 1 has already cut Friday practice from a total of three hours to two this year. The new Sprint Qualifying format, which will be used at three races this year, will see one of those replaced by a qualifying session.

Two of the three Sprint Qualifying rounds will take place at Silverstone and Monza, tracks Tsunoda and fellow rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin have already raced at. However the third is due to be held at Interlagos and Brazil, which is new to all three of them.

Tsunoda said he approves of the experiment with a new format, but is concerned about qualifying at an unfamiliar circuit after just a single hour of practice.

“I think it’s a good thing to do something different and challenging,” he said. “I think a sprint race is one of the good ideas.

“But I would say first sprint race [at] Silverstone, for me is good, but in the beginning of the year, the first plan was to do a sprint race in Brazil, I think.

“For me it’s okay to do a sprint race but as a rookie, for example Brazil I have never driven and also I think most of the rookies, they haven’t driven there. And if we have sprint race, we don’t have a free practice two or three. We have only one free practice, and it goes just straight to qualifying. So as a rookie, it’s a bit of a difficult situation.

“So Silverstone for me is good, I’ve driven there already and I have a lot of experience there so for me I support it and I’m looking forward to it. But if it’s like a track I’ve never driven, I expect it to be a bit more difficult. But for me, Silverstone sprint race I definitely support and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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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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  • 10 comments on “Tsunoda concerned Sprint Qualifying will take practice time away from rookies”

    1. While the tracks involved _do_ keep changing, I’m pretty sure it isn’t Imola! Monza?

      1. Yeah that had me looking up the proposed calendar to check we weren’t going back to Imola

    2. The third one might change, though, as Brazil doesn’t look hugely fit for holding F1 presently.

      1. @jerejj No, it isn’t. In fact Brazil isn’t hugely fit for anything under its current presidency.

    3. F1 level, you should be expected to perform. No more excuses, even lack of experience at a circuit.

      I would expect any F1 driver to pick up all the fundamentals of a circuit within about 10 laps, at most. Thereafter it’s a matter of getting ever closer to the limit.

      If that’s beyond you as an F1 driver, you’re not an F1 driver.

      1. Gavin Campbell
        13th May 2021, 12:51

        Which is why we see a 4 Time World Champion, a 2 Time World Champion (whos raced everything but a milk float), a 7 time race winner and a one time race winner “king of the midfield with a crown made of rubber” still all coming to terms with their new teams and cars after 4 races. (Honourable mention to Sainz Jr who seems pretty up speed in that Ferrari)

        I think its a valid argument to make that the 1 hour of practice straight into qualifying is going to be tough for rookies on a track they’ve never raced. A 10 lap familiarisation program (after an install lap and a stint probably split into 2 runs) is going to be half the practice session gone. From there they have to work on setup, understanding the tyres etc. etc.

        Albeit they will be helped by having most of the season (the longest ever) under their belts by that point – but im sure this early in it seems a pretty daunting task.

    4. This season is a real test for the rookies, and it is already starting to separate the wheat from the chaff. I expect Tsunoda will come to terms with things sooner than most. His enthusiasm and his bad luck have both concealed his potential, in my opinion. I have the same gut feeling about him that I had about Norris, who is now really getting things done. Interesting times!

    5. For the world’s fastest racing series it is now very disappointing how little testing there is for the drivers. must be very stressful for rookies. I think they should do a few rookie test days, say in a 2 year old car and all on spec tyres to not give teams an advantage. Indycar even gives rookies time by themselves to prepare for the indy 500. Lewis Hamilton had about 20,000km testing his F1 car before his first F1 race… No wonder he is the best. How many km did Tsunoda have? The rookies now are using F1 races to learn what past drivers learnt in pre season. The young Driver tests are not enough.

    6. I support Tsunoda on this matter. Training is essential in every sport, unless we consider F1 not a sport.

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