Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021

Sprint qualifying no different to recent races behind Verstappen – Hamilton

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton says that Formula 1’s sprint qualifying was much like previous 2021 grands prix, once he fell behind Max Verstappen.

In brief

Hamilton: Difficulty following not resolved by sprint qualifying format

Hamilton qualified start first for F1’s sprint qualifying session, however he was beaten off the line by Verstappen who went on to win.

Despite having free tyre choice and a lower fuel load than in longer races, Hamilton said it was reminiscent of other circumstance when he’d trailed his championship rival this season.

“[It was] very much the same as the last races in terms of just following behind Max,” Hamilton explained. “[Friday] was a more enjoyable day in terms of qualifying.

“It’s very hard to follow, naturally, in this car. So it wasn’t the most exciting, but hopefully it was for the fans.”

Vettel: Fans should judge the success of sprint format

Sebastian Vettel says drivers are the wrong people to judge whether the sprint qualifying session worked in an F1 weekend because they will always prefer a session with racing action than not.

“I think it’s not so much us, you should go out and ask the people what they think.

“In the end, we do this format for them. So ask the people at home and ask the people in the stands if they liked it. I think for us, we like racing, so free practise is not as exciting as a race [so] you have your answer.”

Raikkonen doesn’t credit soft tyres for good sprint start

Kimi Raikkonen started the sprint qualifying session 17th and was able to make up four places over the to claim 13th on the grid for tomorrow’s grand prix.

He was one of five drivers, including Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso, who opted to gamble on using a soft tyre for the session. However, Raikkonen said he didn’t believe it had provided a major advantage off the line.

“It’s always a bit better but I doubt that there’s a lot between the two tyres at the start,” he said. “It’s more if you get it right or wrong, it’s so easy to get it wrong.

“I got some damage on the floor, I think it was at the beginning of the race. But we tried to fight – we were a bit to slow on the straights but we made some improvements, obviously.”

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Comment of the day

There was a lot to be said about whether trialling F1’s sprint qualifying format worked:

It was strange. It sort of worked and failed at the same time.

I think the potential is there, It didn’t really work, but it’s just held back by these cars struggling to follow. With the 2022 cars, it could be really good. It’s a format that needs close racing, being tried by cars that struggle to race closely.

There was a good risk v reward element where bravery came in and mistakes could be brutally punished. Arguably there was more to lose than gain.

But perhaps controversially, I think it was actually too long. (Again, based on these cars, the 2022 cars could well change that entirely)

Drivers just ended up being fairly cautious, getting stuck behind slower cars who jumped them on the opening lap, then when they got past, they were totally out of touch from the cars in front with not enough time to catch back up.

And on the flip side, the drivers that did some ballsy moves in slower cars, threw softs on etc and gained multiple places ended up having that risk not really rewarded because they had to hold on too long and ended up losing most the places again anyway. In reality, the first few laps were pretty good, the last seven or eight laps ended up being fairly irrelevant as a spectacle.

It’s not a disaster, and will be good to see if they refine it in further trials.

I wouldn’t say it’s added much to the show but for a first go, it also showed enough to suggest its worth a few more shots at it.

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43 comments on “Sprint qualifying no different to recent races behind Verstappen – Hamilton”

  1. How about
    Day 1: FP1 > Sprint Qualifying
    Day 2: Sprint Race > FP2 > Grand Prix Qualifying
    Day 3: Grand Prix race

    People love the build up of qualifying, so this gives them twice of that, while retaining a sprint race which doesn’t ruin qualifying and gives drivers a genuine reason to fight for points.

    Also by putting FP2 after sprint qualifying it gives teams a real chance to frantically alter cars after seeing what didn’t work in the sprint race.

    1. I agree. My only gripe with the sprint race is the qualifying aspect of it. A secondary “Little Prix” race in select weekends would be cool I think. They could have it on a Friday. The grid to that mini race could be determined by the classification of the previous Grand Prix.

      1. Yeah, that could work too and would be a lot simpler. Good idea.

      2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        18th July 2021, 4:10

        @carbon_fibre good point. They could have around 8-10 sprint races on Fridays at overtaking-friendly circuits and a mini sprint championship which is separate from the WDC and WCC. Points may be awarded to all positions and extra constructors’ prize money so that overtaking a rival is of some value. As long as it has no role to play in the ‘core aspect’ of a GP- quali and the race- it is acceptable.

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          18th July 2021, 7:40

          @asleepatthewheel I’ve always thought the natural thing for FOM to do if they wanted to keep them, but fans didn’t want them to affect the ‘core’ weekend would be a sprint race mini-championship that doesn’t affect the main WCC and WDC. And as you say, it gives them the opportunity to experiment with new points systems without having to introduce it to the main race, be that points for every finisher or 1st to 8th like 2003-2009, or older

        2. @asleepatthewheel @randommallard I don’t think you could truly separate it from the main championship. My suggestion is temporary secondary championship that will be absorbed into the main championship once the final sprint race is finished. The sprint race would award full points to the top 10 which will count towards that secondary championship. And when the final sprint race is done, everyone’s points tally is divided by 3 and then added to the points of the main championship.

          1. You’re close to nice future solution.
            Create a separate Sprint Championship on 4-10 Saturdays and award normal GP points to the standing of that championship by the end of the season.

    2. @skipgamer I’d only change QLF and latter practice around, so both practice sessions on Friday with QLF and Sprint on Saturday.

      1. That defeats a big part of the idea, which is to have “meaningful” action on all 3 days to encourage people to come on Friday.

    3. I agree with Hamilton to condense the Grand Prix into one weekend. It could be something like,

      Saturday Afternoon: Free Practice
      Saturday Late Afternoon: Qualifying
      Sunday Afternoon: Race Part 1, 30 minutes [no pitstops]
      — Break for 60 minutes —
      Sunday Late Afternoon: Race Part 2, 90 minutes [with pitstops]

      It would be a bit like football, where the game is split into two halves. This way the cars can be lighter on fuel in either part of the race. And the Qualifying would be a proper qualifying.

      All in all I am really pleased with the new format. It needs a little tweaking, but it has changed the dynamic for the better. Friday is about pure speed. Saturday is about pure racing. And Sunday is about team racing.

      1. That would give teams very little time to repair damage from the first race, wouldn’t it?

      2. This would loose tracks a lot of money. A big part of the reason why most of the tracks out there are clamouring to host this new format is because it makes coming to the track on Friday more attractive. If there was no F1 on a Friday, far fewer people would want to come on a Friday (no matter the support races) and the tracks would loose out.

  2. One of the things a number of drivers remarked on was having only one practice before qualifying being good as less time to perfect setup and less data to analyse. However now for the race race, Mercedes for example have got great data on how both the soft and medium tyres perform over 17 laps. This information is far more accurate than it would have been from a regular P1/P2/P3, where they dictate their own pace rather than having to run flat out.
    This has removed certain variables and guess work from the race race (the opposite of the less practice time uncera) , so I hope it’s not too processional.

    1. *uncertainty

  3. @mrcento As far as the length of the sprint race goes, there is a logical problem with the argument in CoTD. If they made the sprint say 7 laps shorter, then there would be no gamble to take as all cars would simply opt for the soft tyre since it would be the better option, meaning no pace delta between cars to create action. So I think as far as this concept goes they got the duration right – it was in a spot where two different tyre options were viable. The medium was the safer option, but those going for the aggressive soft tyre option could make it work if they made the moves stick early on when they had the grip advantage. So I think that side of it worked well.

    1. I was thinking you know how 1hr qualifying was improved by splitting it into 3 sessions? Why not split the single 100km sprint race into 3 30km sprint races! After each heat, drivers do a cool-down lap and reform the grid at the start, no tyre changes allowed and we go again.

      Now THAT’s a real sprint!

  4. Max could drive away for the next fifty races in a row and lewis still wouldn’t have a reason to complain

    1. I’m sure he’d find something to complain about.

    2. The thing is: Lewis is still in a much better place now, than the non-mercs in the last seasons.

      He whines that his glass is 1/8th empty (still 7/8 full), while in previous seasons the glass of the non-mercs was 1/2 empty.

      1. Thank you for that. You helped me explain why I am so disappointed about this otherwise hero. He should be the last one to moan indeed.

    3. Well, they are in it to win it, and after years of doing that I don’t think it is strange they haven’t yet gotten to grips with being behind rather than on equal footing; but maybe you guys are quicker to adapt, chapeau @realnigelmansell, @johnnik, @trib4udi!

      1. That Mercedes is just as good as the Red bull if not better at Silverstone. I think if Lewis had managed to stay in from at the start then he’d have just driven off into the sunset

    4. ian dearing
      18th July 2021, 9:56

      As Max has ‘complained’ for the last few years at almost every race. As indeed Max ‘complained’ right through qualifying Friday. As he will every time he misses a pole or a win. Occasionally like Ham he will put his hand up to a mistake.
      That’s what champions do and have always done. Its part of why they are champions.
      Not sure why the sports greatest champions should be the last ones to moan about things going wrong, yet Max who is supremely talented and a future multiple champion gets a bye for throwing a sulk on friday qualifying and complaining things are not right?

      1. @iandearing
        Max complaining 2016-2020:
        “Mercedes is to fast, they did an amazing thing building that car, we should work harder and try to beat them.”
        “No, I don’t think in season rule changes are fair: we just must do a better job and try to beat them.”

        Lewis complaining 2021:
        “Their rear wing is illegal, we must change the rules”
        “They have done something with the engine: we need the FIA to look into this.”
        “The rules are made to hurt us.”

        You are saying?

        1. ian dearing
          18th July 2021, 12:02

          ‘Party mode’, ‘magic button’. ‘flexi front wings’ You want to play swop quotes?
          Or you want me to cut to the chase and collude in your fantasy that Max doesn’t moan, sulk, throw a wobbly or complain when things go wrong?
          Or maybe we can pretend that no one other than Ham has complained about it being to difficult to follow? Which is after all what the article is about and why some poster have an issue with him moaning about it.

      2. Max was moaning last time round aftergetting pole but yeah, Lewis is the moaner.

  5. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
    18th July 2021, 5:40

    Regarding the CoTD, sorry but saying that it is a format that needs close racing actually is the same as saying that the race is a format that needs close racing.

  6. COTD: I disagree in principle. Nothing really with which I agree.

    1. That’s the biggest problem with Sprint Qualifying: the ingrained views of many (respected) commenters here.

  7. RandomMallard (@)
    18th July 2021, 7:50

    I agree with Vettel and what he says about the fans. However, what is important is for everyone with an opinion on Sprint Qualifying, whether it is positive or negative, and those who are indifferent to it at the moment (like myself, I’m gonna wait for a couple more), respond to F1’s surveys and polls on F1 Fan Voice. You may not like it, but it is F1’s official communication and opinion platform with their fans, and they have every right for that to be their sole source of fan feedback data. Whether or not the question is leading or not (I don’t think the current one particularly is), the only way to get a meaningful and truthful response to SQ is by giving feedback, and people from Liberty are not going to spend hours and hours scrolling through unofficial sites or social media, they are going to look at their official communications line.

    For context, the current question about SQ under the ‘polls’ section is:

    First Impressions: What did you make of the Sprint Quali Race?
    With answers of:

    Really liked it
    Liked it
    Didn’t mind it
    Didn’t like it
    Really didn’t like it

  8. As stated in this article Marc Gené drove the Ferrari 375 with which the Argentine driver José Frolián González gave Ferrari its first Grand Prix victory. The day before the race, Froilán González toured the track with Fangio who told him where to brake in each corner and gave him other tips on how to drive on that track and that contributed greatly to his winning the race. Froilán González passed away back in 2013.

    1. @mariano An awesome car. Marc Gené is a lucky boy.

  9. It is exactly what i thought it would be, a version of a mid race restart. With a bit of a kerfuffle after the start, and then the traditional procession that we have now seen for almost 40 years.

    I don’t see the added value.
    Once the technical format is finally optimized, it only took 40 years and we still aren’t there yet, all this prodding and poking for the weekend format is greatly unnecessary, as MotoGP proofs every raceweekend.

    I also didn’t like the way the weekend is broken up.
    I’d rather see the teams have a practice sessions on Friday, and then have Qualy and Sprint Race on saturday morning and afternoon.
    1 hour of practice and 25 mins of racing really takes away from what used to be 90 mins of practice and 60 mins of Quali.

  10. I agree with everything in COTD by @mrcento. The jury’s out. I too thought it seemed a bit too long so maybe it should be 75kms rather than 100? So approx quarter of a GP length.

    I do take the point made above though by @keithedin about tyre strategies.

    Of course it could be quite different next year with the heavily revised cars.

  11. Imo that sprint race added nothing. Friday qualifying was nice. With Lewis trilled when he got “pole”. Then he gave pole away on Saturday within 100 meters. And 17 laps later Max was like, “ok nice, thnx guys”. Followed by some lame on track tour interview where they awkwardly tried to let Lewis talk to the fans.

    I think the only way this could work is when both quali and sprint race would be on Saturday. And Friday FP1 and FP2.

    Also had a big laugh when Lewis got the fastest lap on the final lap. Instantly though about the Lewis fanboys on here last year who claimed that when Max got fastest lap while Lewis won a race, that Max had the fastest car based on that flap. And should have won.

  12. Didn’t know that Marko was fighting Lauda over Verstappen, but then it wasn’t really a big fight when Mercedes would never really have seat to offer him.

  13. The sprint was determined at the start. Which begs the question, was Verstappen employing some new tech to heat his brakes and tyres and at the same time increase the tyre preasure?

    I’ve never seen a start like it. Verstappen guns the engine whilst standing on the grid, causing the breaks to overheat, litterally catching fire. Can anyone explain that? I can understand the breaks heating up when the car’s in motion, but from a standing start it makes no sense.

    They would need to be spinning a mecanism from the drive shaft which clamps to the brake hub to generate heat through contact. they would need some kind of additional gearing in the wheel area
    which disengages the main shaft to the wheel, to engage with this other mechanism. Yet its not technology we’ve heard of. Would the rules allow for this other ‘gearing’ mechanism.

    Hamilton had his issues in Azerbaijan with a ‘magic’ button which was suppose to do something similar, but that’s with the car in motion.

    1. Watching that sprint start, and it was a case of ‘what are my eyes seeing’. What actually was going on, there in plain view with no answers from the commentators. Other than to note its effects.

      1. Agree, it was after a slow warm up lap yet his brakes were apparently the hottest we’ve seen. Odd.

        Again the directing of the cameras was quite below par just as it was in qualifying, no flow and missing clear moments of potential action in favour of nonsense panning shots or nothing of interest. It’s like they are trying to fit the coverage to their technology, moving hung cameras instead of covering the action.

      2. The brakes caught fire because they were extremely hot and were stationary (no cooling) for enough seconds to burst into flames. But all the heat was generated on the formation lap. Just changing maximum brake bias to the front is enough to generate that kind of heat especially if the driver then drives in a particular way so there’s nothing suspicious there. T

        1. Brake bias settings, of course! That said he wasn’t driving particularly fast in the warm up, I guess saving the tyres, rather than scrubing them to generate heat.

  14. I agree about the camera angles. From one grand prix to the next, the track should be the star of the show.

    Time and time again we get these rediculas camera angles which are so tight on the car you can’t tell much else.. You cant tell from those kinds of shots were you are on the circuit, let alone the degree of jeperdy the driver is in. Imagine snooker where you only focused on the ball and not on the rest of the table.

    IMH the practice and qualifying rounds should be the viewer’s chance to learn the circuit, that’s our opportunity to match the camera view to the part of the circuit being shown. This is the last thing on the producer’s mind. In most cases unless you’ve played a racing sim, and have learned the track that way, its nay on imposible to actually ‘follow’ the race.

  15. As someone at Silverstone this weekend, I would say the change of format added a lot.

    The main thing it added was having “meaningful” action on all 3 days. Friday wasn’t all just buildup and practice. It felt like it mattered, the same way Saturday does.

    The other thing it added, by only having one practice before qually, was a hell of a lot more action on FP1. There are normally long periods with nobody on track on FP sessions, whereas everyone was out for most of FP1, so we fans for to see much more of the cars. The same was true of FP2.

    Now, the sprint itself suffered from the same problems as a standard race, the main one being the cars are difficult to overtake. This, along with the fact that the cars are lined up roughly from fastest to slowest, made it a procession for much of it. However, the session itself was much more exciting to watch than another FP session would have been.

    So, overall, I loved it as a concept. Every day had action, and overall it made the weekend a lot more exciting. There are changes which could be made, but overall I love what they are trying to do for fans at the track.

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