Brawn “nervous” but optimistic ahead of F1’s first Sprint race weekend

2021 British Grand Prix

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Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn admits he is feeling some nervousness over whether the first of the series’ new Sprint race weekends will be a success.

However he is optimistic the first trial of the new format at next week’s British Grand Prix.

“I am nervous, it’s the unknown,” he told Channel 4. “But I think we put a huge amount of work into it, the teams themselves have put a huge amount of work into it, so I think it’s got the greatest opportunity of success.”

The change to the weekend format will see one practice session replaced by an extra race which will set the starting grid for the grand prix. Brawn admitted he is unsure whether the change will be welcomed by fans.

“We need to engage the fans and we need to ensure we have a race that they really get excited about,” he said. “I think they will, but we don’t know until we get there.”

Two more Sprint races are planned later this year. Formula 1 has said more will follow if it is judged a success, and has already announced a sponsor has been signed up for the new events.

“The best thing ultimately that could happen is it becomes part of a grand prix weekend,” said Brawn. “Maybe not every race. But I think the thing that we want to stress is it’s expanding the weekend. We have a great event on Friday now because we have qualifying.

“We have the Sprint on Saturday and then we have the grand prix on Sunday, which is the pinnacle event of the weekend. So we really try to add to it, make sure we don’t take away from the grand prix.”

Brawn said the future of the format is not a foregone conclusion. “We have to decide if this is something which we roll out completely or whether it’s just for feature events. So there’s quite a lot of discussion to have.

“What I’m really pleased about is Formula 1 is given this opportunity of three races to evaluate whether this is something we want to take forward. And I think that’s a really positive step from Formula 1 to do that.”

How the 2020 and 2021 British grands prix weekends compare

2020 British Grand Prix2021 British Grand Prix
Friday11:00 – 12:30First practiceFriday14:30 – 15:30First practice
Friday15:00 – 16:30Second practiceFriday18:00Qualifying
Saturday11:00 – 12:00Third practiceSaturday12:00 – 13:00Second practice
Saturday14:00QualifyingSaturday16:30 – 17:00Sprint race
Sunday14:10RaceSunday15:00Race

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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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  • 53 comments on “Brawn “nervous” but optimistic ahead of F1’s first Sprint race weekend”

    1. The timings are interesting. I know that the later qualifying time on Friday was designed to allow people to get home from work, etc. But seems they’ve followed that across the whole weekend.

      No one seems to know when F2 qualifying is yet, neither Silverstone:
      https://www.silverstone.co.uk/events/formula-1-british-grand-prix/timetable
      Or F2: https://www.fiaformula2.com/Results?raceid=1030

      The late starts have backfired for me as I’m in Japan at the moment, so 2am Quali, 12.30am Sprint, 11pm Race.
      Austria was manageable. I guess this is how aussies feel most of the time! :)

      1. Yep. And we feel sorry for the Kiwis.

      2. @eurobrun – pretty much ruined it for me – just crazy times for us Aussies as its put it in the US/Mexico/Brazil bracket.

        Those are generally the races I’ll watch the least amount of time on – normally I’m live for Practices, Qualy and Races but sheesh – Silverstone has now been completely ruined for me and its normally one of my favorite races.

        At best I might have a look at some highlights or scan thru a replay or 2 but more than likely will just read reports on this site. what a huge disappointment.

        1. Since F1TV Pro and VPN I’m can watch them in the morning.

      3. That seems like not a great time at all to watch @eurobrun! As “jff” mentions, since I have F1TVpro I have often watched qualifying and the race somewhat later – either just tuning in with a delay, or even watching it a few hours after the race. So far I have managed to avoid too many spoilers to enjoy the live event.

        I find that watching it with delay, when the commentators also do not yet know the results works pretty well. But I don’t have a clue whether you can make something like that work for you!

        I guess the later times are also due to them wanting to give more fans the opportunity to actually be there at the track – I think most only arrive during the friday.

        1. Yeah I have what in Canada is called a PVR satellite receiver or Personal Video Recorder (I assume they’re common globally) so I record all the races no matter what, and certainly for me Australia, China, Japan etc are at 2am so I just watch when I get up in the morning. For me Silverstone will all be happening in the morning for me anyway, which is what we are accustomed to for the European races, and of course Canada, US, Mexico, Brazil, are all early to mid-afternoon races for me here in Ontario.

          1. Yeah, when I’m at home, Sky+ is fine to record and watch back later. I’m petty good at shutting down social media. But when I’m working away, I’ll just have to read about it in the morning then hope to luck into watching it. Sadly Sky Go (with VPN) lets you watch live, but never watch back. If I’m lucky I might be able to well time a race re-run on the Monday.

    2. Before the influx of angry comments comes in, can I just say, give it a chance. We don’t know how these will change the weekend, and whether the effects will be good or bad, until after we’ve tried them. That is the whole purpose of this trial. If they turn out to be good, they stay. If they have no effect, they’ll probably also stay (F1 are getting money from this of course, they are a business). If they’re overwhelmingly bad, F1 will have no choice but to get rid of them. They did it with elimination qualifying, they can do it again if it proves to be that bad. And the other point is that to carry this on next season, they will need unanimous support from the teams, as it is past the deadline (or will be very soon) where a 27/30 majority is enough.

      I’m willing to reserve my judgement until at least after the first Sprint Qualifying session, but will likely go into each of them as open-minded as possible.

      1. I am in favour of Sprint races (not sprint qualifliers) but those times aren’t very good for me. I hope the times will be changed in some normal times otherwise i get social problems…..

      2. Looking forward to the experiment.
        The good thing is that it gives more racing rather than artificial changes of the past.

        But a lot of minds seem to be made up already. And I include this site which keeps calling it ‘Sprint Race’. I don’t mind the name at all; just worried that it sways opinions even before the lights go out.

      3. I don’t like the idea for the reasons many have mentioned already so many times. One exciting sprint race won’t change it, because it’s not about that.

        1. But at the same time one boring Sprint Race won’t be awful. I’m going to wait, as I’ve put above, before I’ve made up my mind

      4. @randommallard The thing is, it won’t be overwhelmingly bad. The main effect will be that it will devalue the race but when it’s done as a one-off like this and is new, of course it will be interesting. When it’s at every single race and it’s no longer new and exciting, that’s where we’ll actually see how it works and what people really think of it.

        It just feels like this line that they’re “trialling it” is a bit disingenuous as I don’t see how it can fail… On almost any metric, they’ll spin it to be a win. They can point to increased viewing figures (as even those who don’t like it will tune in to check it out), they’ve picked a track where racing is usually pretty good so it’s unlikely to be processional, they’ve arranged the times so quali is after the work day (for Europe) so they can fend off complaints about quali being on Friday and so on…

        Let’s see how it works when it’s happening at every race and is no longer new, quali is during work hours, it’s at a track where racing is more difficult and sprint quali clashes with the football season so the casual fans are watching Chris Kamara rather than Lewis Hamilton.

        1. I’ve been for this all along, and we get a normal timed lap qualifying on Friday anyway, for those who like that format, and I don’t see how adding a sprint qualifying race is any less exciting. Even if it is processional, which remains to be seen, it is still a race.

    3. First I thought it was a terrible idea, but now that it is coming closer I have no problem with trying it out…

    4. Ofcourse he is nervous, he hasn’t run any simulations or tests, and it could all end up like F2 and F3 with no added value whatsoever.

      Plus the timings interfer with friday night social life and dinner plans. Qualification at 19.00 CET…
      They are lucky the sprint race only slightly interfers with Saturday evening social life.

      Don’t get the impression this was thought through properly.

      Reply moderated
    5. Those times – why????

      Pretty much settles it for me that I won’t be watching just because they’re so late.

      Its a pity because I actually did want to see the sprint race so I could comment on it from a perspective of having watched it – I’ve never been in favour of them but would have at least watched the first one if it had been on at “normal” qualifying time.

      I’ll just have to read about it & at best watch a replay.

      1. I take it you’re not UK based? If you are then I don’t get the complaint. I’d always much rather see my entertainment later on in the day. Getting up and ready to watch a practice session at 10am or god forbid an F2 or F3 race at 9 in the morning isn’t particularly fun and is something only motorsport seems to do. We have long daylight hours in the UK so make events later on and make it more prime time entertainment. I’m all for it.

        1. @davidhunter13 Do you watch every session from the Australian, Chinese or Japanese GP’s?
          If you find those session times unappealing, welcome to our world for 3/4 of the season.

          10pm sessions are better than midnight sessions. And I’d happily take 9am over 3am, thanks.

        2. @davidhunter13 – well I like mine later in the day too but 2am is not “later in the day” so Qalifying has been completely screwed for me, as has the “wonderful” new experimental sprint race.
          Even the race itself has now been moved to a crappy time (11pm)

          Sure I can understand the reasons behind delaying Fridays Qualifying so you can see it “after work” but there was no good reason at all to move the sprint race from Saturday’s normal Qualifying slot and no good reason to move the Race slot either .

          This race weekend is now completely out of kilter with European races and it’s not necessary. It could well backfire because it also disrupts the normal schedules for UK and European viewers as well and a lot of viewers won’t realise the time has changed until they turn on their TVs.

          It just makes no sense.

        3. Timing is a problem.

          Should we have a massive accident (I can’t help myself but think on Mazespin) with a long red flag (I.e. 2h), the Sprint race would need to be cancelled.

          It is not common, but it’ something that may happen in any session, or even in a former event.

      2. @dbradock – I wouldn’t worry too much in the long-term as the times have been changed to ensure there are minimal complaints in the UK and to give a better time for USA. They need good figures and feedback to justify the change

        Once this is brought in for next year, times will go back to normal because they won’t be trying to convince anyone about their new idea.

        1. Good point about the USA viewing times @petebaldwin, I guess Liberty wanted some of their top brass to be able to tune in live :-) (Or rather they hope to be able to try out the response of the USA audience)

        2. Sam (@undercut677)
          6th July 2021, 17:27

          @petebaldwin – The race now starts a 7am USA Pacific Time. With the focus F1 has on the US, including Netflix and 2 (possibly 3 races) in the US in the future, I would actually be shocked if these times do not become the norm. Having to navigate awkward live sport times is the norm for Australia, Japan and rest of Asia but it is not for the US.

    6. 6 pm local time for quali is a joke. No one east of China is gonna be able to watch it unless they’re night owls.

      1. Sam (@undercut677)
        6th July 2021, 17:28

        @wsrgo – But it now makes it a lot easier for the US = $$$$$$$$

    7. I would be more nervous about the garbage “musical artists” they have lined up for the evenings.

      Reply moderated
    8. First practice … Qualifying … Second practice … Sprint race … Race

      My understanding is once Qualifying starts then parc ferme conditions apply. Second practice implies teams can alter a car’s setup, but Parc ferme implies you can’t. While it is logical to have Qualifying a day before the Sprint race so as to give more time for the mechanics to repair a car that has collided with something, it isn’t logical in terms of the legality for altering a car’s set up. I just don’t see any point in a team sending cars out for Second practice unless the teams are allowed to make adjustments to them, but if you allow teams to make changes to their cars then it means the cars have been changed between the start of Qualifying and the Start of the Race.

      1. @drycrust I believe, although this has not been confirmed, that at the start of normal Qualifying, a looser version of Parc ferme will apply with a few more changes than normal allowed for FP2. They will then enter full, normal Parc ferme at the start of Sprint Qualifying. Or so I’ve heard

      2. Hadn’t thought about that but it’s an interesting point. I wonder if some teams will push for single lap pace on Friday knowing they can change their setup on Saturday? Obviously previously, you had to find a compromise but depending on what you are allowed to change, that might not be the case as much anymore. They could have a setup that destroys tyres but is fast over a lap and then change it for FP2.

    9. Don’t like it but let’s see if it is a failure or success.

    10. The sprint race will be an early to late morning start on US TV and late afternoon and early evening across the EU. SE Asia, Australia, NZ yuk.

    11. I must admit it looks a lot more tantalising seeing it scheduled in and I like the later timings of all the events. It would definitely make visiting for a full weekend far more worthwhile as you’re literally getting more entertainment for your money and for every day. Practice sessions are kinda cool but if I can watch something that matters even more then bring it on.

      I hope it’s a success. If it is then I can’t see any of the other venues wanting to be left out of it so it could become the new format for the sport very quickly. Combined with the big changes in cars next year and it could be a big shift. For sure many long term fans might be a bit sick of the prospect, but if it’s entertaining and still retains the purity of racing (no reverse grid nonsense that is so ridiculously abstract and simply fees unfair) then I’m all for it.

    12. Please FIA make another Austrian gran prix ,we need another Red Bull victory .

      Reply moderated
      1. Unless there’s cancellations again.

    13. The sprint race format in a double header would be criminal for the teams.
      In a single weekend like I e. Silverstone it can be an enhancement I guess. We will see.

    14. Derek Edwards
      6th July 2021, 11:22

      “We have to decide if this is something which we roll out completely or whether it’s just for feature events.”

      I’m prepared to see what happens and how it all shakes out, but I’m disappointed to see that the third option – that of ditching it – is not mentioned.

      1. They’ve got it sponsored already – it ain’t going away.

    15. Time for Max Verstappen to challenge the new Grand Slams format:
      1. Topped all 3 Practices
      2. Qualifying 1st
      3. Winning Sprint Race
      4. Winning Sunday Race + Fastest Lap m

      1. Sorry, only two practice seasons.

    16. I don’t mind the idea of it, but lets not forget that at silverstone very little overtaking happens during the race so i doubt this will be any different

      plus it will get rid of the downright embarrassing and dangerous scenes we see in qualifying where drivers who “can’t follow in dirty air and it’s slower” drive pathetically slow just so they can be in the dirty because it’s “faster”

      Reply moderated
    17. Putting the sprint to one side for a second…. Something I’m even less fond of is this talk of potentially using different formats at different races or having some ‘feature/grand slam’ race weekends which may hand out more points.

      I don’t think any race should be seen as more important than any of the others in terms of points, I don’t think any race should be seen as a bigger deal just because Liberty decide it’s a ‘grand slam weekend’ & I don’t think the championship should be potentially turned into more of a lottery by running different formats at different races.

      Right now having a bad weekend is going to sting just as much regardless of where you have it. If we have different formats/points structures at different races then it’s going to sting more if you have a bad weekend with more points on offer or something (Especially if a title rival has a dominant weekend & grabs even more points) & to me that isn’t a fair way to decide a world championship.

      Taking a step back & looking at where Liberty seem to want to take F1… I’m don’t think I like maybe 90% of what they seem to want to do and even some of what they have done which are things I could get behind have been implemented in ways i’m not especially fond of (The cost cap with further development restrictions & more restrictive regulations for instance). I honestly don’t think i’ve ever been as down on F1 or where it’s heading as I am right now.

      1. @stefmeister, I’ve replied to you twice on 2 different threads now, I promise I’m not stalking you.

        I fully understand that this is being trialled at the moment, but should it be decided that the Saturday Sprint Race format is to stay, then if it only applies to certain race weekends then it’s just odd. It feels like sport should have the same rules and format at each event and not have rules and scoring systems which change from race to race.

        1. F1 is the only FIA world championship that does the exact same thing (format/length-wise) every time. I’d say it’s in the minority of all car racing series globally in that aspect as well.
          Nice to see F1 starting to try to adapt to the modern world, even if they are getting it wrong.

          1. If having different formats and stuff is so great then why are categories that do that significantly less popular than F1?

            I agree with @stefmeister & @geekzilla9000. Every round of the world championship should run to the same format & if this awful gimmick sprint race format can’t be used everywhere then it’s just further proof that it’s an awful format which should not be adopted.

            #LibertyOut! #NoToGimmicks #StopTheGimmickRace! #F1IsntNASCAR

            1. @roger-ayles Indycar was drawing bigger numbers back before they got stupid

            2. #DismissMasi #MasiIsVeryDangerous #DismissBrawn #Monaco2006NeverForget #NoSprintQualifying #WeNeverEverWantedIt

        2. While I get that argument at the same time if some race weekends offer a few more points than others I don’t see it as devaluing the other races. Why? Because every race still offers a big chunk of points that teams will deem crucial to their Championship standing. It is not like the potential 3 extra points offered when a Sprint Qualifying is held means that on non-SQ weekends the teams will try less hard.

          This also ties in with the new budget caps and development restrictions. First of all those were absolutely necessary to make F1 sustainable and to give lesser and new teams a sense that they have a fighting chance of getting somewhere against the traditional dynasties. Secondly, that means there is less likely to be a multi-season dynasty run by one team, which makes for a more exciting season(s) and as well makes it less likely that one team or driver will dominate the whole weekend nor every SQ whenever they are used.

          F1 was going to be extinct without the measures the teams have agreed were necessary. Now F1 has saved itself for us to continue to enjoy, and I think a more driver vs driver series is something to be stoked about. I know I am. Championships are going to be harder fought and won starting next year.

    18. Robert Fallon
      6th July 2021, 13:36

      Not really interested in this. You want to make F1 interesting again put all drivers in the same car and actually let them race.

      Reply moderated
    19. We have deferred tickets from last year that we purchased in 2019, having been regulars for the three day event for over 10 years now the introduction of the new trial format for the weekend this year has us pondering whether we will go on the Friday.

      I am sceptical about the new Sprint race qualifying format for the well covered reasons, and in addition as visiting spectators the timings are awkward both in terms of the 6pm (UTC) on a Friday and a 3pm race start.

      I would like to see the viewer/consumer research that lead to the decision to run with a 6pm timing on the Friday for Sprint race qualifying. It doesn’t work for U.S viewers one of the key target markets for Liberty, and is also difficult for viewers further east from Europe along with the 4pm race start.

      Given the timing and low-jeopardy of the Sprint race qualifying I don’t feel any compulsion to watch that live either at the circuit or on T.V. I would rather watch a free practice session.

    20. Guess Brawn is the type that eats when he’s nervous. This cheat should be out of F1 like Fabio.

    21. We need to engage the fans

      no you don’t, fans get engaged by themselves.
      last time fans need to be engaged knockout qualifications was produced. enough said.

      1. messed up the quote button, I guess

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