Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Silverstone, 2021

Handicap-free tyre choice a strength of sprint qualifying format – Brawn

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In the round-up: Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says the freer tyre rules in the series’ new sprint qualifying format could be carried over to regular race weekends.

In brief

Free tyre choice “possibly something we should take forward”

Formula 1’s ‘Q3 tyre rule’, which requires drivers who qualifying in the top 10 to start the race on their old tyres from Q2, was waived for the series’ first sprint qualifying race at Silverstone last week. Drivers were instead given a free tyre choice for the sprint race which, coupled with the fact they weren’t required to make a pit stop during the race, encouraged different tyre strategies.

Some drivers who regularly qualify near the front said being able to start the race on new tyres instead of old sets meant they were able to race harder from the first lap.

Asked whether this could be repeated at regular race weekends, Brawn said: “That’s a very good point and I think we’ll learn from these races.

“For me, there’s some very appealing things in this format. Everyone runs the same tyre in qualifying. We still have the variety in the race because we’re fortunate that we had two tyres we could use. There’s no handicap on people for the race in terms of what tyres they choose.

“So that’s quite possibly something we should take forward.”

McLaren wary of bogey tracks

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said this weekend’s race at the Hungaroring will be the first of several on tracks which do not play to their car’s strengths, which could prove decisive in their fight for third in the championship against Ferrari.

“The challenges posed by the Hungaroring may not suit our car as much as other circuits on the calendar,” said Seidl. “But much of the fight for third this year will be decided by how well we perform at tracks that don’t naturally play to our strengths.”

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Comment of the day

Making the final round of the championship a sprint qualifying weekend risks devaluing the season-closing grand prix, warns Sumedh:

Sprint race for the last weekend? Does Formula One want to be in a position where the title gets potentially decided on a Saturday?

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  • 62 comments on “Handicap-free tyre choice a strength of sprint qualifying format – Brawn”

    1. …what on earth is Seidl talking about? Hungary, yes, was not a good circuit for McLaren last year, but given they did well at Monaco and have good traction off of slow corners, they might reasonably hope to do a bit better this time.

      But that’s followed by Spa and Monza. McLaren did reasonably enough at Spa, or rather would have done if Sainz’s engine hadn’t failed, and Monza was their best weekend of the entire year, with Sainz and Norris running 2/3 before the safety car which screwed everything up. In fact given that Red Bull and Mercedes have both remarked about the McLaren’s acceleration and straight-line speed I’d have Norris as a decent candidate for outright victory at Monza.

      1. Yes, monza was great for mclaren, and they even managed a 2nd place and almost-win following hamilton’s penalty and the unlucky red flag.

      2. I doubt ferrari and mclaren might win any race on pace this year, but I wouldn’t mind at all if that happened.

      3. @Ilanin An outright win is a tad over-optimistic.
        @esploratore1 Same.

    2. Well, signs of hope on the tyre front, it was the same with refuelling, Bernie was never going to admit to having made a mistake, like the Pope he had to be infallible and refuelling continued until such time as most non rusted-on fans believed refuelling was in “F1s DNA”. We have a similar situation now with so many fans believing that F1 is a tactical competition more-so than it is about engineering or driving skill, I hope I live long enough to see F1 return to races uninterrupted by tyre changing pit stops for tactical reasons, a race where the leaders are challenged or challenging for the lead at every corner, not running 20 seconds away in clean air to gain the lead with the under/over cut. I have huge respect for Alain Prost “the Professor” but for entertainment I would rather watch the drivers that would wring their cars neck in order to produce lap-times better than the designed performance, Senna of course being the obvious example but on a good day Mansell and Montoya could thrill and going further back all the WDCs as well as Moss could turn it on, the slowest speed to win was only as slow as your nearest challenger allowed.

      1. Bringing back refueling is a terrible idea. The worse seasons in F1 were in that era

        1. Perhaps – but not because of refuelling.
          Bringing it back would also bring back lighter, more agile cars that are less demanding on their tyres for the first half of the race.
          Would potentially also remove the ‘feature’ of F1 where the results are usually determined by the end of lap 1 or 2, as there is almost no way to make up that track position now.

        2. Disagree.
          The worst seasons in F1 were the last few, when you could easily predict driver’s order on the podium before the race started.

      2. @hohum Always amazes me how long it takes them to correct these dumb mistakes. 20 years for refueling and 15 for those stupid grooved tires. Hopefully we soon see the end of the forced pitstop for good. Would love for the chance to see a Prost type driver again. The beauty of not forcing pitstops is that it allows for both Prost and Senna/Mansell type drives. Although I still think Senna was less of a wring-it-by-the-neck and more of a less perfected Prost.

    3. Handicap is an offensive slur, Keith. Disappointed in you for using it in your headline. Be better.

      1. This has to be a joke right? When referring to a person with disability sure, but as a sporting term? A handicap is a handicap, not offensive. It’s only when referring to a person as handicapped that it could cause offense.

      2. @theessence we have the pinnacle of mindless wokeness right here.

        1. Actually, it looks more like they saying that just to wind posters like you up and to draw you into then angrily ranting about wokeness, or whatever insult is the flavour of the day.

          1. Due to Poe’s Law, it’s impossible to tell.

        2. G (@unklegsif)
          27th July 2021, 11:02

          I consider myself to be as “right on” as the next guy, but for the love of God (quick, name check all the other gods so as to not insult anyone – Allah, Buddha, Tom Cruise… lol) can we – society – start to stop using “woke” as an insult

          Incidentally @theessence – what term would you use for the adjustment of mechanical ignition timing to ensure maximum efficiency of fuel burn relative to piston stroke? ;-)


          Reply moderated
          1. @unklegsif I second your motion. What kind of person believes that consciousness is a derogatory state? The only answer is to own the word and use it in it’s original meaning in the face of such misuse. For example, I “woke” up from a dream that strangers could be decent to each other online :)

        3. @andrewf1 and your comment is the pinnacle of humorless somnolence.

          1. @ferrox-glideh wasn’t at all meant to be humorous.

            1. @andrewf1 Of course, the original comment was a joke. I understand that your comment was not a joke, that you did not understand the humor involved, and that you are taking the opportunity to show how you believe that empathy is a weakness. Next time your hackles are raised, take a deep breath and take a moment to think about the context of what is upsetting you. You may find that people are having a laugh rather than trying to offend you.

            2. @ferrox-glideh yeah that’s just speculation on your part masquerading as a statement of fact. If the original comment was a joke, fair enough. If it wasn’t, it was very daft and nonsensical. It’s mindless to argue that you can’t use the word handicap in a sporting context, to denote a disadvantage. Nobody said empathy is a weakness, but you can pat yourself on the back for the strawman you’ve defeated there.

        4. Did you say “Dislike wokeness noobs this community is full”?

      3. @theessence Commenting has be disabled for this article.

        1. Been, been disabled.

    4. To the COTD. Liberty don’t care about that, if it’s decided on the last weekend the fans that go to the track will have paid for it. Brawn has already said they are looking at increasing the points awarded for the Saturday race, so their intentions are clear. Liberty makes money as does the promoter and that’s the entire point of the sprint series. It’s not been implemented to enhance F1 as such but to increase profits.

      1. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
        27th July 2021, 4:20

        Personally I think the sprint race was a step in the right direction but unadventurous. I think f1 should try hybrid gps to increase on track competition. Every gp is only 90% of the entire race, and the last 10% is completed at the start of the next race weekend. It also functions as a tire selection opportunity for the next sprint qualifying session, where points are awarded for overtakes (introducing an exciting tried strategy component). This would introduce ‘cliff hangers’ into the race weekend and help capture more potential new fans to the sport

        1. Don’t forget the water sprinklers.

          1. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
            27th July 2021, 10:52

            I’d take water sprinklers over DRS anytime.

            1. No rain tires ether. Most entertaining now!

          2. @realnigelmansell @HoHum – I think we need Mario Kart style weapons and boost pads. Formula E have perfected the concept of running over a virtual pad to get a speed boost so they could implement that along with virtual banana peels and red shells.

            Imagine how exciting it would be if for the last 5 laps, the field was bunched up after a Competition Safety Car, the sprinklers turned on and Norris in 4th picked up triple red shells?

            1. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
              28th July 2021, 18:02

              That’s assuming Norris wins the fan-vote! The bigger % of fans vote, the better of an item you get. F1 could learn from the highly successful mario kart championship in other ways, such as short-cuts. Imagine how much more exciting the upcoming gp would be if executing a precise slide allowed drivers to bypass corners 12 and 13.

              Unironically would love to watch trolls boost mazepin to a lightning-mediated gp win

        2. Sorry but that idea is the beginning of the end of F1. Fix the cars so they can race close, and stop making stupid format changes. If you want F1 to thrive and bring in new.people, make it free to view. The paywall is killing the sport.

          1. +1 +1+1…….

        3. I think you’re onto something with the cliff hanger between races (or maybe even seasons).
          Especially since these purists like @hohum want to take the cliff away from the tyres, and others removing all other handicaps for teams.
          And bring on NFL players (had to look it up) as pundits.

        4. @realnigelmansell haha for a minute there I thought you were serious nearly choked on my beer :))

    5. Well Duh!

      Ross noticed that having a free tyre choice for all teams for the race made a difference!!!!

      Not something that has been pointed out over and over again at all. We “had” to have a “sprint” for it to be obvious.

      I wonder what other amazing positives they’ll attribute to sprints to justify keeping them.

      Yeah I know, very tounge in cheek – I guess I have to be comforted by the fact that at least something positive came out of the weekend.

      1. Did it actually make much of a difference? Half the grid already had that free tyre choice, and at least half the top 10 would have likely started on the medium tyres too.

        In terms of strategy, I would say that it only really made a difference for the lower half of the top 10. Even that supposed benefit is a bit of a stretch.

        1. It didn’t make a huge difference in this case because most drivers opted to start on the same compound anyway. But the outliers who went a different way still provided a lot of the entertainment (Alonso in particular). I’d like to see free tyre choice at least trialled at a few races next year to see how it affects things. While Silverstone offered roughly a 90/10 split in starting tyre strategies there could be circuits which are much closer to 50/50 which would likely generate a lot more action.

    6. Yes, THAT was a positive of the sprint race, brawn. Now find me another!

      1. Same feeling here. Albeit that the best result for Liberty of the sprint in fact was the drama on Sunday as a consequence of it. Drivers have much better insight in their competitors race pace as a result of it. It might be that when done often it will give away too much of Sundays race, subsequently becoming somewhat boring (or some attempting desperate moves).

    7. I love the feeling of early 2000s.
      Mclaren Mercedes vs Ferrari. I hope someday there are 4 teams instead of 2 fighting for the championship.

    8. A strenght of qualifrying races or a weakness that has been in regular races forever?

      Most of the things that make qualy races “great” could well have been applied to normal races years ago…

      Think about it, they had to put an entirely different race weekend format to realize the qualy tyre rule is rubbish and only benefits the fastest drivers…

      1. @fer-no65, these great things did apply to normal races years ago.

    9. Anyone else had to check who JJ Watt is after his tweet?

      Oh, and isn’t the Q2/3 tyre rule already dropped for next year? I seem to remember one set of rules being circulated that had that section removed from the regulations.

      1. I certainly was confused as to why this football players opinion on F1 would be even remotely interesting to anyone here. Did he marry a Spice Girl or something?

      2. One of the greatest players in the biggest US sport, commenting on one of the greatest ever drivers, has to be a good thing for F1.

    10. Good thing the Q2 tyre rule is already removed from next season.
      See the linked reference above – about 5-6 years overdue, but better later than never.

      COTD: I wouldn’t mind hugely.

      1. I thought that was the strong point of Qualiflier right now without it they all start on the same tyre… Or you say use soft only for qualifly and select race tyre afterwards..
        Not sure if that is going to help the midfield teams at all.

        1. @macleod Back when refuelling got banned, this rule perhaps had some validity but eventually became redundant and outdated over time. A strong point how? Nothing positive about limiting the top 10’s strategy options. For fairness’ sake better to give everyone a free choice for race starts. Axing this rule should help midfielders to an extent, although the fastest teams will stay ahead regardless.

          1. I thought it was made so midfieldteams could come closer to the top teams as they are restricted on tyres. This i found a strong point.

            I wonder if the topteams are taking off again and lap teams multiple laps again if they have free choice.

            1. @macleod Zero impact on lappings. Top teams didn’t lap others multiple times in Silverstone.

      2. @jerejj I wasn’t aware of this, and going by his comments apparently Brawn isn’t aware of it either, which is strange. But this is good news. Along with many others I’ve been complaining about the Q2 tyre rules, which typically only benefit the top couple of teams, while penalising midfield drivers who qualify into Q3 over their rivals who don’t make it, and ensure that most similarly paced cars start on the same compound of tyre. This is a no brainer change that they should have at least trialled years ago, but I assumed was being blocked by the top teams.

    11. Basically everything deemed positive about the sprintrace is what F1 used to be and have, before all these ridiculous cost saving and artificial competition measures were taken…

      Reply moderated
    12. So what people liked about the sprint format is less friday practice, and removing the Q2 tyre rule. This could have been done without a sprint race, years ago. Without any additional costs. Fans and drivers have been criticising the stupid Q2 tyre rule for years.

      The FIA cant seem to get rid of rules. Only make new ones. The rule book has grown exponentially in the last decade. We need someone in charge who will get rid of most of them. Most of the rules are introduced because of safety or cutting costs.

      As regards to safety, this has resaulted in the ever increasing weight of the cars, making them cumbersome, way too long, use more fule and brakiung energy, and harder to race wheel to wheel. Crashes are also more energetic due to the weight. Plus the FIA is alwas reactive not proactive. With seatbelts, helmets, HANS, halo, etc all were introduced after accidents. Why dont they intoduce a closed cocjpit if they are intretsted in safety? A car with a roof is much safer. Why wait until you have an accident where a piece of debris hits a driver like Massa in 2009?

      Regarding cost cutting. The thousands and thousands of pages of very restrictive rules regarding engines, fuel flow, energy deplyement, etc are there suposebly to lower costs. As costs have skyrocketed this is a complete failiure from this perspective. I propose that allowing teams to run whatever engine they wanted with some sort of power limit would be cheaper, more competitive, more interesting and promote innovation and probably attract manufacturers. The rulebook on engines could be 1 A4 paper.

      But the FIA will never get rid of rules. The rule book will be even bigger going forward and eventually we will have a spec series.

      1. @vjanik The Q2 tyre rule will get axed after this season.

      2. @vjanik, the fuel limit, sets the power limit already.

        1. No it doesnt. Otherwise we wouldnt have engines with varying power, and teams not able to compete because of an inferior engine. Clearly Mercedes were able to generate more power with the same fule flow as everybody else. And because the engine rules are so restrictive and complicated, its very hard to catch up unless you have a billion dollars to outdevelop Merc. The current engine rules are longer than the bible, eventhough all teams have exctly the same displacement, v angle and a ton of other things that are fixed. Where is the innovation that F1 used to be at the front of?

          With a simple 1000bhp (or equivalent Kw) power limit, you could allow teams to have any form of propulsion they want. If honda want to go electric go ahead (maybe change batteries in pit stops). If a poor team doesnt want to spend fortunes they can have a V8 turbo, V10. Mercedes/Red Bull could keep developing their engine. If someone wants to try hydrogen feel free. It would be very easy for commentators to explain the rules, even to new fans. All teams would have the same power and the stopwatch will choose which engine is the best/most efficient etc. The startegies would be fascinating with different stint lenths etc. Weight would play a bigger role too, allowing to place ballast.

          Why use the fuel flow to limit power if you can do it directly? Just look at the Ferrari fiasco a few years back. What a mess to explain to fans what actually happened. Did Ferrari cheat? You have to go into loads of details about sensors and i think even the FIA didnt really know what Ferarri was up to. In Formula E there is a power limit. Very easy to enforce and no confusion.

          1. @vjanik, Don’t you think Renault could equal the power of the current MB engine if they increased the capacity of their engine to 2L. Eventually the limit would be reached wherein a larger engine would increase weight and aero drag, much as the V8s and V12s became V10s as the compromise that allowed the best power/size ratio.

            1. @hohum Who knows what we would see. It would be fascinating, compared to frozen engines which we have now.

      3. @vjanik – Don’t forget VSC (which they seem to have dropped now because Safety Cars bunch the field up and are therefore more “entertaining”). After years of close calls with tractors and Martin Brundle even saying on commentary during a race “someone will hit one of those one day”, they waited until a driver died before making changes.

        Now they’re panicking about the future of F1 and whether to use bio-fuels, electric motors or something else when if they were actually leading, they’d have decided this years ago and driven change and innovation.

    13. Handicap-free tyre choice a strength of sprint qualifying format – Brawn

      Unfortunately it is not trully handicap free, an improvement though. Look at Alonso who admitted he under qualified and has a result had a spare soft tyre, which he then used to correct his q postion, the same for Ocon and raikkonen.

    14. Re Piastri: Dominant force? Someone will keep closer.

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