Jean Todt, Paul Ricard, 2021

Todt not convinced by Formula 1’s ‘Sprint’ race plan

2021 French Grand Prix

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FIA president Jean Todt doesn’t believe Formula 1 needs the new Sprint race format which will be trialled for the first time next month.

“If you ask me if I’m a big fan of that, the answer is no,” said Todt, whose third and final term as FIA president will conclude later this year. “I don’t think Formula 1 needs it.”

However Todt says he sees no harm in experimenting with the extra races, the first of which will be held on the Saturday of the British Grand Prix, to decide the starting grid for the 10th round of the world championship.

“On the other side, if people want to try something, it’s not going to hurt the race on Sunday,” said Todt. “It will be a different way of having a starting grid on Sunday. So it costs nothing to try.”

Formula 1 refers to the new 100-kilometre Saturday races, previously known as ‘Sprint Qualifying’ as the ‘Sprint’. “We don’t call that a race,” Todt emphasised. “I have a part of responsibility not calling that a race,” he added. “For me, the race is on Sunday.”

“I’m curious to see what will come out but I’m sure that it will not damage the race on Sunday,” said Todt. “People may say it was more interesting on Saturday than on Sunday, but that’s not a big risk for the image and for the credibility of of the championship.”

Formula 1 will hold two further Sprint races this year, one at Monza and another at either Interlagos or the Circuit of the Americas.

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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 “Todt not convinced by Formula 1’s ‘Sprint’ race plan”

  1. With the current expense caps that teams are facing, and because that will be a Sprint race so more risk to have crashes, what happens then?

    1. That’s why the teams argued for and got extra money to do them @bluechris

      “I’m curious to see what will come out but I’m sure that it will not damage the race on Sunday,” said Todt. “People may say it was more interesting on Saturday than on Sunday, but that’s not a big risk for the image and for the credibility of of the championship.”

      Todt clearly knows his F1! Despite some good races over the last two seasons, we are indeed quite used to Saturdays being the most exciting part of F1.

    2. @bluechris As @bosyber said above, FOM are set to give the teams a certain ‘damage insurance’. I can’t remember how mush it goes up to, but it’s somewhere between £100k and £250k per team per race. Although not every team will get this, as they will need to prove that their cat was actually damaged and can only claim how much it actually cost to repair.

      1. While I in no way am trying to make fun of your typo, I have to say the mental image of Toto Wolff bringing a cat to the stewards for compensation is very funny to me XD

        1. :-) Miaauuww, grrr.

        2. @omega It comes with typing on a phone!

          I should have noticed that

  2. “On the other side, if people want to try something, it’s not going to hurt the race on Sunday,” said Todt. “It will be a different way of having a starting grid on Sunday. So it costs nothing to try.”

    It only distorts the competition.
    Potentially running teams on extra costs, and therefore not being able to compete in the same way during the rest of the competition.

    You could have introduced a non-competitive race to trial this, even doh its been trialed in F2 and F3.
    Could have done it in Bahrain in between races.

    This is the typical not thought through adhoc implementation of something for the sake of change.

    Reply moderated
  3. “On the other side, if people want to try something, it’s not going to hurt the race on Sunday,” said Todt. “It will be a different way of having a starting grid on Sunday. So it costs nothing to try.” – Jean Todt.

    Well, I tend to think that it could cost some teams a fair whack should crashes happen. Then there could also be a further ‘sprint’ after a red flag pause and only three or so laps to run for grid positions.

    For once, I agree with what Jean Todt says, generally, in the article.

    1. In terms of costs, as I’ve put above, FOM have arranged to pay for damage sustained in the Sprint Qualifying, up to I think about £250000

  4. We didn’t need it either, but on the other side let’s see how it turns out to be.

  5. I’m surprised the Todt is allowed to be a dissenting voice, but maybe he no longer cares now his presidency is almost up.

    I’ll be interested to know if Brundle and Croft will be in anyway told to toe the party line during commentary, given that their voices are heard by the vast majority of English speaking viewers.
    If the fabled casual viewers here them saying it’s bad for F1 or doesn’t work, then they ain’t gonna stick around!

    1. @eurobrun I think so far when it’s been discussed on Sky everyone in the discussion has held a broadly similar view in that they don’t really get what the sprint format as it’s going to be implemented is going to achieve.

  6. Why do they keep saying things like “ “We don’t call that a race.”

    It is a race. There are going to be two races over the weekend. I don’t like it as I think things should build up to the race on Sunday but if you’re going to change it, at least own it and believe in it…. Do they think people won’t call it a Sprint Race?

    If they genuinely believed that the Saturday race won’t diminish the Saturday race, they’d call it what it is instead of trying desperately to pretend it’s something else.

    1. If there are points in it, it IS a race

    2. There has been plenty of speculation that calling it officially a race would cause some complications to the current TV deals, hence the weird terminology.

    3. They won’t call it a race because certain types of viewers freak out over that word.
      There can only be one race, apparently – so they will only call one part of the event a “race.” The GP.

      1. Sky constantly refer to it as a race as do many other broadcasters/media types and they are also already saying there will be 2 winners.

        its a gimmick which virtually nobody wants been forced through by american owners who want to Americanize the sport.

        1. Sky is a broadcaster – they want it to be a race.

  7. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it.
    Seems like the sprint is a sop for the youth with short attention spans and risks diluting the classic race weekend format which has pretty much worked well for 70 years.

    1. Or maybe it increases the amount of competition?
      The GP will still be there, as will the current method of qualifying. You’re not losing anything.

      It ain’t broke, and it ain’t being fixed – it’s being added to.

      1. In what way will it add anything to the competition though?

        It’s the answer to a question nobody was answering which does absolutely nothing to answer any of the questions which people were actually asking.

        It’s a gimmick race introduced by the new American owners because Americans love throwing as many gimmicks into sport as possible as they don’t like pure sport they like only wwe/nascar style artificial gimmicky sports entertainment.

        #LibertyOut #NoToSprintRaces #F1AintNascar

        1. It’s an extra competitive session. An “addition.”
          Normally there are only two, for these 3 events there will be three.

          Ok, I get it. We all get it. You don’t like it.
          I’d prefer it had a reverse grid. At least then it would be fundamentally different to the GP. And I don’t care if you think that’d just be a gimmick. We can all have our own opinion and we can all like different things.
          The words gimmick and feature are entirely interchangeable – the only separation is whether or not you like it.

          There is nothing pure about F1. F1 is not, would not be and never was pure sport.

        2. #SprintRacesOut #WeNeverWantedThis #NeverListenToTheGuyAboveMe

  8. If there anyone who know anything about F1 outside of Liberty who actually like this gimmick race idea & think it will work because i’ve not seen many.

    Even Sky & especially overlord Croft who have spend the past number of years pushing desperately for additional gimmick races seem down on this one.

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