Formula 1’s new sprint qualifying event reminds Nikita Mazepin of the similar format he experienced in Formula 2 last year, with one key difference.
“It feels a little bit like F2 where I came from,” said Mazepin. “I have great memories from F2 last year when I won my first race. So actually the weekend feels very similar.”
Formula 2 drivers only have 45 minutes of free practice and their qualifying sessions are often scheduled after F1 has finished running for the day. But F1 used a similar Friday timetable this weekend.
“The free practice was slightly longer, but now we’re into qualifying and it’s the evening session,” said Mazepin. “So loads of similarities and I have to say that I really like this environment.”
“But you have to remember that here it’s a little bit different because we don’t get the top 10 reversed like we do in Formula 2,” he added. “Maybe that is something that F1 could consider as well. But I don’t think it’s realistic.”
F1 is only awarding points to the top three finishers in today’s sprint qualifying race, while the top eight score in F2’s sprint races. “It’s slightly two different approaches there because you also get a lot less points [in sprint qualifying],” said Mazepin.
However Mazepin’s fellow F2 graduate Yuki Tsunoda was disappointed by the reduction in practice compared to normal F1 race weekends.
“It’s a bit of a downside that we have only one free practice that have to nail [everything] car set-up-wise or whatever in free practice one and after we can’t change
“It’s a good thing that we have a big event with the qualifying and the sprint qualifying race each each day.”
F1’s three rookies – Mazepin, Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher – were eliminated in Q1 yesterday, in the session that decided the grid for sprint qualifying. Tsunoda blamed being delayed at the weighbridge and encountering traffic as a result.
The AlphaTauri driver is doubtful today’s race will offer many opportunities to recover positions. “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s going to be an overtake show because it’s going to be a DRS train, 17 laps.
“So it’s going to be difficult, but we’ll see what’s going to happen. I’ll just try to push as much as possible.”
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