Victory lap, Silverstone, 2021

Cap sprint qualifying at four rounds to prevent “too much randomness” – Wolff

2021 British Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff praised Formula 1’s sprint qualifying experiment, but doesn’t want the format to be used at every race.

The team’s drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished second and third in yesterday’s race to set the starting grid for this afternoon’s British Grand Prix.

Wolff said the race added more entertainment to the weekend. But he was concerned by the potential for ‘random’ events to influence the grid order, highlighting the spin which left Sergio Perez at the back of the starting grid.

“I think it’s entertaining for the crowds on the track,” he said. “A start is always interesting and good content and obviously Alonso was fun to watch. So I think overall it is a good add-on.

“I don’t [want to] see that every race. I think that is too much randomness. If you see Checo spinning out and then retiring, last is not the place that Sergio Perez should be.

“It could really work against you if you’re one of the front-runners. There’s too much randomness. But I think if the next few ones go like this one, I think it has a place in the calendar in a limited form.”

Formula 1 should not pursue more radical changes than this format, Wolff believes. “I’m not a fan of live experimenting,” he said, “but this one is not hugely controversial.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2021
Analysis: What worked and what failed in F1’s sprint qualifying experiment
“I am totally against reverse grids, it’s just fake. But here everybody started from the right positions. I believe that qualifying was [Friday] and also qualifying should be called qualifying and not a sprint race, but this is really a detail.”

The shake-up to the weekend format meant second practice, which was held under parc ferme restrictions on Saturday morning, was “a bit random”, said Wolff. Following a lively start, yesterday’s sprint qualifying race quickly settled down. “It was a bit dull towards the end,” he agreed, “but until then I would say it has merit.”

Wolff wants to see the format used for no more than four races a year, calling that the “right amount”.

“If it is a kind of ‘grand slam’ for a couple or a few races, I think that is good because you provide some real entertainment on the Saturday, we are prime time TV Friday night, we are prime time TV Saturday night and obviously the grand prix.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 British Grand Prix

    Browse all 2021 British Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    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...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    12 comments on “Cap sprint qualifying at four rounds to prevent “too much randomness” – Wolff”

    1. As Toto stated with regards to engines, ‘personal like’ is trumped by the ‘business’.

      Reverse grids will happen or something along those lines to shake up the order.

    2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      18th July 2021, 10:40

      Cap at 0 might be for the best. Pondering overnight just made it seem even worse.

    3. The main issue race with sprint race qualifying is simply that it’s not fair. You could be starting the Grand Prix from the back only because someone crashed into you. The show provided isn’t worth this kind of unfairness.

      1. Someone could take a competitor out of normal qualifying in Q1 also. Or block them, costing them their best lap.
        Is that more fair?

        The start order of a race is largely irrelevant – the finishing really matters.
        Even more important than both of those, though, is what happens during the race. That’s what we are all watching for.

        1. pastaman (@)
          18th July 2021, 13:46

          Disingenuous argument, we all know the chances of getting taken out in a lap one incident is much higher than in qualifying, where you are not racing other cars for position.

          “The start order of a race is largely irrelevant” … really? So we should just throw out qualifying then? Ask Perez if he feels his starting position is irrelevant.

    4. Lol.

      We have three currently and Toto is talking about the importance of capping it at four.
      Brawn few weeks later: “Yeah, five sounds reasonable to me.”
      Horner: “But we should make sure these six weekends with special format don’t distort the season too much.”
      Toto: “Yes, I doubt we could have more than 7 weekends with different point system.”
      Binotto: “But if you think of it, 8 weekends are more or less a third of the calendar and it can be sold as a grandslam part of the season.”
      Brawn: “Alright, so which 9 venues could host it?”
      Horner: “Hmm, let’s say five in Europe, three in Asia and two in Americas.”
      Toto: “Cmon, it’s eurocentric.”
      Brawn: “Right, five in Europe, five in Asia, five in Americas.”
      Binotto: “Do we even have that many races in Americas.”
      Brawn: “We’ll have to with 18 sprint races now.”
      Toto: “Isn’t it discriminatory to those remaining three races to award less points than the rest?”
      Brawn: “Yeah…we’ll have to make it full season then.”

      1. Scotty (@rockonscotty)
        18th July 2021, 12:35


    5. How about 1 point per place that you improve your original starting position. Would encourage more overtakes lower down the field. In the current format the lead teams get all the points further separating them from the field. Qualify 15th, finish sprint 10th. Get 5 pts.

      1. pastaman (@)
        18th July 2021, 13:50

        A nice thought, but what’s to prevent a Merc or RB from qualifying “poorly” or “having an issue” and starting from the back of the grid of the sprint?

    6. Or all rounds or none (better if so). But “this one, this not” is not something from a serious championship.

    7. I’d rather none TBH in part because i’m not a fan of the whole ‘grand slam’ concept that Brawn & others have mentioned because I don’t see why some rounds should be seen as more important & with more points on offer than others. Having different formats & extra points at different rounds simply isn’t something i’m a fan of.

      For me every round of the world championship should run to the same format & have the same number of points available.

    8. Yes please, and do those sessions during winter testing, pretty please…..

    Comments are closed.