Ferrari viewing sprint qualifying weekend as ‘400km race with a red flag’

2021 British Grand Prix

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Ferrari is approaching today’s first sprint qualifying event as if it was the opening stint of a longer race including tomorrow’s grand prix.

The team’s sporting director Laurent Mekies says they will determine how aggressively to tackle today’s 17-lap race based on the fact it will decide the starting grid for Sunday’s main event.

“One way to look at it is that if you consider that this is simply the first stint of the race,” said Mekies. “So the way we look at it here is that if you look at sprint qualifying first race and you imagine you have instead of a 300 kilometre race as we normally do, you have a 400 kilometre race, but after the first 100 kilometres it’s like if you have a red flag. Effectively, that’s what it is.

“So that’s a little bit the sort of approach or mode we are trying to get to when we look at the big picture. So it’s with that big picture in mind that we try to ponder our choices and say, look it’s 400 kilometres, there will be a red flag after 100 kilometres, how will we approach it and how much risk do you want to take in each phase of the race?”

Charles Leclerc will line up fourth on the grid for today’s sprint qualifying race, four places ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr. All drivers in the race have a free choice of what tyre to start on and do not need to make a pit stop during the race.

“I don’t think the tyre choice is clear cut,” said Mekies. “I would be surprised if the whole field chooses to do the same thing.

“So there is still a fair bit of assessment on our side to decide where we want to go. Obviously some of it is already conditioned by tyre usage in FP1 some of it we will decide after the FP2 sessions. So it’s between running the soft or running the medium for the sprint qualifying.”

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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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14 comments on “Ferrari viewing sprint qualifying weekend as ‘400km race with a red flag’”

  1. That’s a clever take on this whole thing. It helps them come up with the optimal pot strategies as well.

  2. Well yeah, that’s exactly what it is. To be honest I don’t mind having a longer race, and I’ve wanted less practice and a return of the warm-up session (Saturday practice anyone? although they should do away with parc fermé rules). Even having a Friday evening qualifying was fun.

    So maybe I like this whole “sprint qualifying” ordeal, but I just hate its branding and the way it’s communicated and sold to us?

    1. @hunocsi I’m more the opposite.

      I don’t like the reduced practice as it’s robbing fans of seeing F1 drivers in F1 cars which is what I tune in/attend a race to watch & I want to see as much of that as possible. Especially since you pay a small fortune to travel to race weekends. Additionally when I attend a race weekend I enjoy having at least 2 hours practice on Friday as it allows you to walk around the circuit & watch from different places which is something you don’t want to do during qualifying/races.

      I also hate having the real qualifying session on Friday in part because it means i’m not going to be able to watch live most of the time. Was always by biggest dislike when we had qualifying on Friday in the past & one of the main reasons they moved away from Friday qualifying is because with most people at work/school it always drew a smaller audience.

      The reason we don’t have a Sunday warm-up now is because there isn’t a need for one as they aren’t allowed to tear down/rebuild the car overnight, Partly because of parc ferme but also because there is no need to with engines, gearbox’s etc.. having to last multiple races so they don’t change them 3-4 times a weekend now.

      And I still dislike the gimmick race as i think it’s going to detract from the GP. If it’s boring then it’s boring but if it’s exciting then that is simply action we would usually have got in the GP which we now won’t which will therefore just make the GP less exciting which isn’t a positive thing.

      I just don’t like any of the changes. Reducing practice, Friday qualifying, parc feme basically all weekend, the gimmick race & how it’s going to detract from the GP & make that feel like a less special event. It’s just such an awful change imo & I really, really hope it doesn’t get adopted more permanently.

      Will at least save me money as i’m not attending any race weekend running this gimmick race format.

  3. Ferrari stating the obvious that us fans knew from Day 1

    1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      17th July 2021, 12:37

      They don’t know we know they know we know

  4. Thinking of it like that just makes the whole gimmick race format seem even more stupid.

    We can’t call the pole the pole & they keep telling us that the gimmick race that is a race can’t be called a race.

    Friday qualifying means less people can watch live (Myself included), The gimmick race will just detract from the real race & the whole thing is just a poorly thought out gimmick for commercial reasons rather than sporting/racing.


    1. Reverting…

  5. I think it’s the right way for everyone to think of it… which is why it makes no sense to award the pole position trophy to the winner of the sprint race.

    And what are we going to do with team mate qualifying battles from now on ? Compare the head-to-head considering the sprint race or not ?

  6. Alonso said similar in the post qualifying interview, that today is the first stint of the race see video.

      1. One of the commentators on BBC Radio also had this view

  7. Sound solid to me. A race where everybody has a chance to take a shower, a koffie and a bit of sleep before proceeding.

  8. However, if this is just the first quarter of a 400 km race let’s remember it is for 3-2-1 points and they will start on 1/3 the fuel, and they will not have to strategize for pitting. But go ahead Ferrari tell your drivers to treat it like it is the first quarter of a 400km race, and we’ll see them trundling along and getting passed by several cars.

  9. Accurate. Also Ferrari will be the only team on the grid to have previously completed a 400km F1 race too!

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