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