F1 has only worked out one thing about sprint qualifying: It wants more

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1’s decision to introduce sprint qualifying races at three rounds of this year’s world championship was originally described as an experiment.

The series’ promoters said their plan to hold extra races on Saturday to decide the grid for Sunday’s race would be trialled and, if it proved successful, the format would be rolled out more widely for the 2022 F1 season.

This was widely taken at face value. “We have to be objective enough at the end of the season, if this has been negative, just obviously come back to the normal race format,” said Charles Leclerc when the plan was confirmed.

But it became clear long ago there was no realistic possibility F1 would give up on the format. A new, multi-year sponsorship deal linked to the sprint eventsreportedly worth $100 million – was announced before the first such weekend was held.

After the first sprint event at Silverstone Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told an investor call the series had enjoyed “overwhelmingly positive feedback from the teams, drivers and fans”. If so, they have overcome the deep scepticism among many readers of RaceFans.

Nonetheless, Domenicali added: “We have said that we wanted to do three tests. One has been done at Silverstone. Another one will be in Monza and the other one will be at the end of the season in Brazil. At the end of this complete test we’re going to have a plan to see what will be the next step.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2021
Analysis: What worked and what failed in F1’s sprint qualifying experiment
He reiterated this plan following the second sprint qualifying race at Monza. There the mixed reaction seen at Silverstone took a much more negative turn following a decidedly processional Saturday afternoon race. One of the few drivers to successfully overtake any of his rivals panned the format as “boring”.

But with the final running of the sprint qualifying format still a month away, Domenicali seems to have made up his mind. He told Sky the 2022 F1 calendar will feature at least seven sprint events, more than twice as many as this year.

“We said at the beginning of the year the three tests this year to make sure that we had the right plan for the future. But actually I would say for the vast majority of the comments that we receive are totally positive, super-positive. Promoters super-happy because there is something new and very important on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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“We are receiving this positive feedback, therefore we need to make sure that next year we are going to have a great plan that will consider also some of the points that were highlighted for the people that didn’t like too much this format. But generally speaking it has been an incredible success.”

Domenicali’s rare admission that not everyone is so enamoured with the sprint qualifying format (which seemed to be a majority of our readers after the Monza race) hints at the problems it has thrown up which F1 hasn’t yet solved.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2021
Report: Drivers suggest sprint qualifying format changes after processional second race
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that by giving pole position to the winner of a race, rather than the top qualifier, the sprint format ended decades of tradition. Sebastian Vettel, one of F1’s most prolific pole-winners, described the change as “wrong” and even F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn admitted this aspect of the format may require a rethink.

One mooted solution involves separating the sprint event from qualifying, so it becomes a standalone race in its own right. Brawn suggested increasing the reward to drivers, as presently only the top three score points. However some have cast doubt on whether F1 should mimic Formula 2’s format so closely, particularly as the junior series will return to having two races per weekend in 2022.

The plan would almost certainly face opposition from FIA president Jean Todt, a sceptic of the format who nonetheless allowed the trial to proceed, but made it plain it should not be described as a “race” and must “not damage the race on Sunday”. It’s hard to see how Brawn could make the changes he desires without running afoul of his former Ferrari boss.

Even the idea of holding more sprint rounds will face opposition. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff wants a cap on no more than four sprint qualifying races in 2022.

But these are all sporting considerations, which are secondary to the reason for the format’s introduction. This, as was clear months before the first sprint qualifying race was held, is solely financial.

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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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105 comments on “F1 has only worked out one thing about sprint qualifying: It wants more”

  1. It’s a simple truth everyone has to learn at some point:

    It’s never, ever an experiment.

    1. True and sad, F1 needs to stop lying to it’s fans, and itself. As with any kind of relationship it will only end one way.

    2. Yup. Let’s Chang the only thing that ain’t broken with something that is broken. Yuy corporate greed.

    3. @skipgamer

      @proesterchen Yup, seems like to me it’s a money play and they’re going to do whatever they want and what prospective media study metrics say to do on how to gain new watchers and eyes. It’s looking like traditional motorsport racing nor long term F1 followers aren’t really a factor to their plans to boost clicks and stock price.

      I understand a company in the money making business trying to make a profit, that’s how business works but I think for F1 and it’s fans could be hurt by how they’re going after their profits.
      Remember that Liberty Media is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ stock market and their primary & ultimate responsibility is only their stock price & investors and will do whatever they can to make the price go up regardless of what motorsport fans may want. The owner (John C. Malone) has zero experience with motorsport racing nor a follower of it. F1 is an investment instrument. So don’t be too surprised when they do things like this.

      Liberty Media’s stock is still below (currently @$48) their stock price of $50 just before the pandemic hit, that doesn’t sound terrible until you look at the NASDAQ at the same time ($116); it has skyrocketed up to a 75% (now @$196) more in value during the same time Media Liberty has been losing. That is a really bad performance for Liberty Media and for its investors compared to others on NASDAQ; also Quarate Co. they own under Liberty Liberty has almost tripled on Nasdaq. I expect they’ll do anything to get their stock price to rise and quickly.

      This is not a good thing for F1 or it’s long term fans to be in.

    4. When Crypto.com (or any company, come to think of it) was announced as the sprint sponsor, the die was cast.

      Domenicali said “At the end of this complete test we’re going to have a plan to see what will be the next step.”

      Domenicali meant “At the end of this complete test we’re going to deny the plan to see what will be the next step, and do what we want anyway…”

  2. Stephen Higgins
    4th October 2021, 13:37

    I don’t want ANY more Sprint Qualifying.

    What part of that do Stefano and Ross not understand?

    1. They haven’t heard the part where you’re willing to pay them to have your way.

      Maybe because you haven’t said so (yet).

    2. I’m not convinced by the format, but I didn’t find it so terrible. In fact I pretty much enjoyed the Silverstone WE format. The procession in Monza was boring though, but I’ curious to see what will happen in Brazil…

      So a bit puzzled to see soo many extremely negative comments on this site. I feel people are reacting on the principle…. All businesses need to evolve to stay relevant, so should F1.

      I think the real question should be on the format of that sprint race (should call it a race since we have qualy on Friday, should we allocate points to more driver than the first 3)

      Just my « against the tide » feeling

    3. I want more Sprint Qualifying.

      Thats the part they remember…

    4. @Stephen Higgins

      I don’t want ANY more Sprint Qualifying
      What part of that do Stefano and Ross not understand

      @sonnycrockett I don’t think you understand is that they don’t care what you or I want. Those two seem to have drank the Liberty Media Cool-Aid and just submit some press words and then stand back and let Liberty Media will do whatever they want and then smile for camera’s like it’s all great. The two must be getting a ton of stock options.

      Domenicali is sounding more and more like a piece of work after reading what he said in this article and the recent one about Qatar.

  3. Aren’t we the customer and, in this instance, aren’t we almost totally united in our condemnation of sprint qualifying?

    This begs the question: who is it for?

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      4th October 2021, 13:59

      The shareholders who see $-signs on the short term

      1. @sonnycrockett
        @barryfromdownunder Barry, I think you nailed it spot on, John C. Malone & Liberty Media are thinking dollars and believe they setting up F1 to sell it for a profit in any way they can. I really don’t see them caring long term about F1.

    2. @sonnycrockett The 18-year-olds who buys Rolex watches, luxury cars and want to invest in cryptocurrencies, and who can’t take 1,5 hours of anything.

      You know, the same people who soon will want Fanboost in order to ‘engage’ with the sport more.

      1. I guess stereotyping people according to their age works both ways ;)

    3. @sonnycrockett unfortunately, we aren’t the customers. Formula 1’s customers are the tracks (who pay a hosting fee) and TV broadcasters (who pay for the ability to show the races). Formula 1 also creates income through sponsors.

      We have already seen that sponsors approve of the deal, tracks are likely to be neutral at best and TV broadcasters are likely to be heavily in favour – now, their friday afternoon slot is likely to get far more viewers, and I’d imagine the saturday afternoon slot will.

      Unfortunately, the only thing us “regular joe’s” can do is vote with our wallet, and boycott sprint qualifying, in the hopes that the increase in “casual” viewership is more than offset by the boycotting hardcore fans. But I know I, for one, won’t want to miss the action even if I disagree with it. So, ultimately, it’s here to stay. I expect it to be rolled out to every event in 2023.

    4. @sonnycrockett The sense I have is that those attending the races are really enjoying the more action-packed weekend. I feel like that is who Domenicali and/or Brawn were mainly talking about during/after the Silverstone SQ weekend.

      1. I rather think the positive feedback they mention is overwhelmingly from track promoters (who see higher interest in all three days of the weekend to sell on), TV stations – who equally see the potential for more eyeballs at the screen, meaning higher potential ad revenues as well as F1s partners who feel it means their brands might be visible for more time and can now offer 3 days of bringing VIPs to the track to boost the value of their partnership. And indeed the shareholders who are looking forward to milking the opportunities to ask for a higher price for those “grand slam” weekends @robbie.

        I am sure the tests were real tests though. They now have input for the negotiations with everyone. Just like the teams now know more what to expect and will no doubt try and argue for a higher budget cap limit to factor in the amount of wear and tear on parts …

      2. @robbie one of the reasons I was skeptical about the whole concept was that they deliberately chose events where its pretty much guaranteed that they would have maximum attendees even with no sprint qualifying.

        At those 3 tracks, there’s always large crowds of fans, fans that in fact are well versed in F1 and love their racing. It was always going to be a no brainer that the fans at those tracks loved having “more” action, although even from those, there was a fair amount of fan dissatisfaction because of qualifying being delayed till late Friday.

        I’d have liked to have seen the experiment conducted at a track where there’s pretty much zero “real fan” interest (middle east, Sochi etc.) to see if that had any impact on crowd attendance and interest but it was never going to be done because there was a much better chance of having a less than positive outcome at the tracks.

        It seems also that the initial premise “a more interesting way to qualify” has not really hit the mark with so many suggestions about making it a stand alone event, adding more points etc. which again suggests that a) it hasn’t proved to be a more interesting way to qualify” or b) there was a level of untruthfulness about the reasons for doing it in the first place and the true aim was just to add more “races” because they could monetize it via a sponsor and higher fees. I’m always less than impressed with any organization that has to come up with a fake reason to do something instead of just telling the truth, and to me, that’s what was done with this.

        For me, the changes to the schedule has meant I’m watching less and adding more “sprints” with associated schedule changes for 7 races will mean that next year I’ll be watching even less than this year. I’ll go as far as to say its possible I won’t actually bother watching any of those 7 or at best I’ll maybe watch just the race. If this happens with a significant number of TV watchers (I’ll still attend a race or two if COVID allows it) the broadcasters might find that they’re getting less eyeballs rather than more.

        Losing eyeballs would be the only thing that will scupper their plans and given that it will take a year or so for that to play out, I’m pretty sure that sprints are here to stay.

        1. @dbradock Yes of course they were always going to choose venues they thought would be best, likely for several reasons, not just the one you allege. You would too if you were in charge. One could just as easily argue it was a risk to try ‘disrupting tradition’ shall we say, at Silverstone with all it’s rich history. Claiming that of course those fans were always going to love more action doesn’t bode well for your argument, as that would not be exclusive to the venues they have selected. One could easily argue all venues would be happy with more action. As to the timing for broadcasting, that can be easily tweaked.

          If the initial premise has not hit the mark that’s fine, as that’s why this has been a trial and not something written in stone. That doesn’t have to mean untruthfulness, it just means it is a trial to do exploration.

          You are of course right to say that if this results in less eyeballs then that is the loudest that fans can speak to Liberty.

          1. @robbie you’re trying to hard to justify the unjustifiable

            Why not just admit that Liberty/Ross decided they wanted sprint races and will bring them in regardless because they think there’s money in it.

            There was never any intention for it to be a “trial” just a taste of things to come.

            I’m still of the opinion that it is unnecessary, adds no value, and should be discarded but I’m convinced that we’re going to see this “tweaked” until reverse grid races end up back on the table.

          2. @dbradock Well, it’s only your opinion that ‘it’ is unjustifiable, and that Liberty were going to bring in Sprint races no matter what. The teams did have input, and they could have refused them just as they refused reverse grids. I will not just assume this is a ‘taste of things to come’ and prefer to just believe it (your worst case scenario) when I see it. As well, there is nothing wrong with them doing things to make more money. That’s just normal business. What is far less normal is what BE did with CVC when it was strictly a money grab while he and the top teams drove F1 towards extinction. I see nothing of that with Liberty, in fact the opposite. As I have said before, I am not going to sweat something like SQ when they have done such incredible work and made all the necessary and vital changes, along with the teams, to right the ship. To me it is somewhat akin to someone being rescued from drowning by being hauled out of the water just in time, only for them to then sue their rescuer because their arm was wrenched in the process.

      3. @robbie was it Liberty Media who told you that those attending the weekend are enjoying a more action packed weekend?

        1. anon No, it just appeared that way to me. That and I really doubt folks were there and all the while grumbling the way so many do around here.

          1. @robbie is there not a question of whether you have then projected your own opinions onto the crowds there, and come to that conclusion because, perhaps more on an unconscious than conscious level, you wanted to come to that conclusion in the first place?

            As Dieter noted during the race weekend for the most recent sprint race at the Italian GP, the prospect of a sprint race does not seem to have helped the promoters. Domenicali and Todt were both talking about how interest and ticket sales for the 2021 Italian GP was far weaker than expected, to the point that Domenicali was suggesting that, if their “relaunch” of the race fails, they will consider leaving Monza altogether.

            With sales significantly underperforming, it raises the question of whether fans really were going to enjoy an action packed weekend, or instead stayed away and turned it into more of a negative outcome.

          2. anon This from Dieter’s report after Sunday of Monza. “As related on Saturday, ticket prices were hiked astronomically this year, causing a significant drop in attendance.

            Spectator numbers are capped at 50% of grandstand capacity – with no general admittance permitted – by government decree, which translates to 28,000 per day. Yet on Friday Monza attracted 10,000 and saw just 16,000 on Saturday. Sunday numbers are not available as this is written but a source indicated that 5,000 tickets were still available on Sunday morning.”

            Sounds like this was a hard weekend for judging fans’ take on SQ. I do take your point about unconscious vs conscious, but this just to say it is not so much that I love the new format and am bound and determined to sell it to people or something like that. I’m also fine with the regular format and qualifying although I do think there is likely a more exciting way to qualify than the flying lap method used now. I’d even be happy with a fourth ‘Q’ so that there is less time sitting watching drivers sitting in their cars in their garages. It is just moreso that I think Liberty have earned the right to do this experiment and see where it goes along with the teams, and I have felt happy to go along for the ride as it is their bat and their ball and there is too much that is good and exciting going on with the new cars and the financial regs for me to get down on them over something such as this. Let’s see where it goes and how it gets tweaked.

  4. fenilePracture
    4th October 2021, 14:07

    It’s never an experiment. It’s always about the money.

    Almost makes me miss Bernie. Actually, no, it straight-up does, because he at least backed out of his last “””experiment”””. All the more reason why I expect Vettel to not have anything to do with F1 ever again once he’s out.

  5. That’s the problem with the “let’s just try it and see how it goes” mentality. When they get a 100 million sponsors even before the first “trial” you realize it’s not really a test but it’s going permanent forever.

    Never, ever think they’ll “listen to the fans”. Liberty is worse than Bernie was… because Bernie at least had the decency to show himself like he was, to say what he believed. Liberty show itself as caring to the fans, as approachable… it’s all smiles but behind the scenes, they are worse…

    1. @fer-no65 However, I am ever mindful that BE had brought F1 to the brink of extinction with the CVC money grab, and handing all the power to the top 4 teams who saw fit to see that they themselves would be fine, leaving the lesser teams without even a hope of a dream of ever competing. I’m not all that bothered by Sprint Qualifying when Liberty and Brawn have taken care of the crucial changes that were needed in order for us to even have an F1 to enjoy. So…worse than BE? No way. Perfect? Of course not. Let’s see what tweaking they will do to the Sprint Qualifying, but for me that is small potatoes compared to the vast sweeping changes that have been made that really matter the most.

      1. Liberty deserves a lot of proprs for the way they handled the series during COVID alone. Logistically it was very difficult.

    2. But even a sponsor will only pay if people watch.
      People will only watch (more) if they like it better (than the alternative).
      Thus in the end F1 will follow popular demand, but it might not be to the liking of the current hard core fans who don’t like change.

      I still think a sprint race can offer something additional, which we don’t get in 23 2hr races. But IMO it does require further tweaking.

    3. @fer-no65 I have to agree.

      Have to say I was really over old Bernie while he was in charge and was very glad to see him go and have Liberty Media take it over, putting the kibosh on Bernie and was liking what John C. Malone’s company (liberty) was saying and wanting to do to improve F1, it sounded promising but now I have to admit (can’t believe I’m saying this) that I think I want Bernie back!

      1. @redpill I find that a strange comment in the sense that Liberty’s new chapter has barely even begun. We have yet to see the new cars race in anger, nor have the budget caps and the better money distribution take real effect, and you’re already saying it ‘sounded’ promising. Weird. I’d say then that no entity taking over from BE could have satisfied you. I’d say were BE still there F1 would be toast. Or at least probably only 7 teams ‘strong’ with the lesser teams continuing to see no light at the end of the tunnel, and certainly no new entities interested whatsoever. But hey, BE would sure be richer than ever. Still in the dark from a social media standpoint, and as to We Race as One? Lol.

        1. @robbie I was totally joking about Bernie (sarcastically). Actually I think F1 needs an improvement over both BE and Liberty. BE had an odd view of what racing should be and he really should stick to retirement life outside of racing. I think Liberty has already very much shown a lot about themselves and where they want to go. I’m not speaking about the new car regs that were created years ago but more about how Liberty has been acting now after the pandemic. I very much welcomed them and liked how Liberty was operating after buying F1 from BE; it looked very promising. They also did very well with the racing season during the pandemic.
          But It’s just after the pandemic and all the new posturing, new direction, the way they’re acting and decisions they’re making now seems like a direct opposite of what they were promising to existing F1 fans when they bought F1. I’m fairly sure they don’t parallel like they did right after they bought F1.

          Of course we still need to see how things pan out but I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s not going to go the way they promised us. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we hear about Liberty media cashing out and selling F1 in the next season or two.

          F1 could be another “Blue Star airlines”, hopefully not :)

          1. @redpill Lol, fair comment. For me it is just that I don’t feel any alarm and I find it overkill to describe what Liberty has been doing and the way they’re acting, as you have done in your main paragraph.

            For me all I see is an entity I’m grateful for, trying to put a bit of their flavour to their F1, massive and necessary changes aside, post-decades of BE, and for any thing they have said or done that might sound like too much change, or the wrong direction in some people’s opinion, they have also said far moreso all the right things about leaving the vast majority of F1 and it’s cars and infrastructure within the spirit of historical F1.

            That many want to lean with paranoia on the ‘suspicious’ or the negative outlook towards Liberty and Brawn is up to those individuals, but I trust them, but more importantly I also trust the teams to police what is the right direction for F1 now that they are given a healthier and more balanced, imho, atmosphere in which to flourish together as a grid, with what I think has been a successful partnership with the teams in the transition post-BE. The teams don’t want to be a part of foolishness and will draw a line, a line which I even feel foolish suggesting since they are nowhere near any such thing, and they have only just really started off together in earnest…the teams and Liberty and Brawn I mean. Their new chapter. Signed off by the teams. I’m all good with this journey. I’m stoked. And an extra race on some weekends, whatever iteration they settle on, is fine by me. I love race starts. And I think Sprints will be better next year.

            As to them selling in a season or two? When they’ve only really just begun? Cashing out before they’ve built it up? I highly doubt it. They’ve obviously got big plans as indicated by the massive work they’ve done with the teams on the cars and the money and the future. I would also think the teams’ owners and administrative sides would have done their due diligence on Liberty and their long term commitment(s), including contractually.

          2. @robbie We’ll I’m glad you feel different as that sounds like a much better outcome. After being in the paddock for so long and hearing the rumblings, maybe I’ve become more cynical after seeing and hearing some of it first hand. I do agree when teams have had enough they can put their foot down as a group and say Basta.

            I will category stick to my guns after having dealt with it and say that sprint quali races are a fail nor making the weekend better racing as a whole. I too like to see more races in a weekend when teams can handle the increased workload but a quali sprint race or inverted start is not the right direction nor makes quality racing when it comes to true F1 motor racing, supposedly the pinnacle of motorsport.
            I think it would be awesome if there was two races in a weekend in addition to a normal quali to set grid, there could be a lot of benefit from it but one massive problem that needs fixing first is the current lack of allowed testing session days and minimum practice sessions to fit in two races in a weekend; especially with a new chassis and fuel coming.

            With the new budget caps in place, this fixes a lot of issues of why testing days were heavily crushed. Teams have such a challenge refining their package that a little amount of the time, cars are not nearly quite where it could be when they line up on the grid (smaller teams are hurt even more by this), this really effects the quality of racing and why theirs still 3 FP’s. Some drivers complain about hating to do practice and testing because its so boring, it’s like when someone complains having doing their homework :) but trust me it directly helps their results. If they can increase testing day sessions through out a season, this would then greatly help the teams not having to do 3 FP’s in a weekend, then it will be make more sense to fit in a 2nd race and still allow engineers the time to prepare for a quali, some kind of second race and a full race on Sunday. Any kind of race each consumes a huge amount of assets and personnel time. I say keep the budget cap at where it’s currently is and not reduce it down to $130M and apply it to more testing sessions. The racing & cars for us to enjoy will be better.

            PS> I’m still very leery of LM’s motives, recent attitude and dialogue, especially after doing disappointing business with Qatar.

  6. I am so happy too be retired and no longer need to suffer the bloviations of corporate functionaries and their lame vanity projects.

  7. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    4th October 2021, 14:37

    Well, that will do wonders to my weekend schedule. Apparently, for next year, I have a number of Saturdays where I don’t have to arrange my day to watch the qualifying, because there will be no qualifying, just the race on Sunday. I’ll pretend the grid was arranged via lottery, makes more sense than a race to determine where you start the race.

    1. People need to vote with their remote controls. Don’t want it? Send the message and don’t watch it. No eyes on the “action”, then no one sees the sponsorship and they won’t like that.

      But I agree, a few more Saturdays free to do something with the family…. or watch the midday football match on the other sky sports channel.

    2. I didn’t even know there was one of these at Monza. I watched the stream of the race Sunday evening as I normally do long after the live race. I think it is a dumb idea, but it is very easy to avoid.

  8. What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to heavily sponsor something that the general audience doesn’t seem to like. Marketing is a weird world.

    1. Because, quite clearly, plenty of people are watching it – regardless of whether they like it or not.
      Even most of those who say they won’t watch it…

    2. 30% of F1 fans like sprint races, 70% do not like sprint races.
      So 30% of F1 fans are more likely to use cryptocurrency because of sprint races, and 70% are less likely to.
      Hopefully it actually will work like this. The only possible way I can see sprints getting scrapped is if it actually loses customers for crypto.com.

  9. Something I heard over/after the Monza weekend was that you can tell what much of the feedback teams, drivers & broadcasters have been getting has been by the way many changed the way the spoke about the format.

    1. In other words, Sky loves it, the teams (apart somehow from Ferrari) really do not get too much positive feedback, but do look at then numbers of extra cost ticking, I guess.

  10. Just like DRS 10 years ago, nothing is more permanent than a “temporary” solution…

    Liberty makes Bernie look like a naive old man.
    If Bernie behaved the same way as Domenicalli does, he would have doubled down after the “double points” and the “elimination qualifying” fiasco and he’d have proposed even more absurd ideas, just by saying “it was an overwhelming success so we got to do more”.

    1. Except DRS is a good idea overall because of the huge dirty air problem in F1 even if it has downsides (which easier overtaking due to when it’s acticayed).

      That is kinda of why a car gets it when lapping a backmarker, to conpensate for the time loss when being in dirty air of a following car, but you still need to earn by getting fast enough to within a second range.

      1. @yaru Getting DRS when lapping is because the system doesn’t recognize whether the driver ahead is on the same lap or about to get lapped when crossing a detection line.

      2. @yaru
        DRS was a “temporary solution” FIA came up with, to fix the dirty air/overtaking problem in 2011 after many fans complained after the 2010 Abu Dhabi GP when Alonso couldn’t pass Petrov for 40 laps.
        The idea was to have DRS for a short period and when the next big regulation change would happen, they would “fix” the cars’ aero and get rid of DRS.
        Yet, 2 big regulations changes have passed (2014, 2017) and DRS stayed there without any changes and we’re about to stick with it after the 3rd big regs change in 2022.

        So no, it’s not a “good idea”, it’s something that came as a “trial short-term solution” until we fix the actual problem, and has stuck with us for 10 years!

        1. @black Keep in mind that nothing was going to change the ‘need’ for DRS, at least in terms of the dirty air problem, while BE was in charge and on a money grab with CVC that had the power handed to the top four teams. It is folly to have expected the foxes ruling the hen house to change the cars such that DRS could go. Understand, I’ve always been 100% against DRS so I’m not arguing for it, just complaining that the cars had gone way way too far in their clean air dependence and that was never going to change under BE/CVC.

          That DRS is staying for 2022 is still a big grey area as far as I can surmise. It wasn’t present on their full size example car. It has been talked about as potentially on the way out as long as the new cars can race closely, which to me is very likely given the changes they’ve made. I see DRS still present initially, but only as a precaution against the cars still not able to race closely. But I’m sure they will, and DRS as we know it is imho on the way out. But the other thing about DRS is as Domenicali has suggested may happen, that being that DRS may be retained, but used differently, in that all cars would get to use it at all times in the usual designated zones, but only as a measure to scrub off unnecessary drag in those zones, for the sake of fuel saving. So it wouldn’t be used to advantage a trailing car within a second of a leading car, but rather would be used by all cars in the designated zones, no matter their proximity to other cars. As he said, they don’t need downforce on the straights anyway, so why not open up the wings and let them save some fuel.

  11. Liberty is living in a post-consensus reality run by crypto hedge fund bros. They can all sit on a tack.

  12. Actually, it wants less.

  13. All those comments I replied to at the start of the year “why don’t we give it a go” etc. Those of us with half a brain knew it was already decided, just like DRS was an experiment that could be reversed, which it never will be.
    The biggest surprise for me was that this has happened with Domenicali in charge, didn’t think he was the type to weasel something in by patronising us all. Oh well.

    1. Yeah, that was pretty clear to most people I think @john-h. I do think it really was a test though – now they have managed to get Sky fully behind it, probably have promoters who are looking at getting a bit of it, they have the numbers to get talking about cost compensation with team, and who knows they might even fiddle around a bit with the exact format to show that they 1. do listen to the fans and 2. try and find a way to get a sprint to do anything (after the start phase), especially when teams get their strategy simulations better tuned and can predict what will happen even more to push out as much randomness as they can again.

    2. Sorry to hear that you only have half a brain :(

      1. nice pick up :)

  14. Great! I now have 7 free Saturdays and, depending on the weekends they choose to run the “experiment “ I won’t have to send money to go to the track.. win win

    1. Suddenly, the idea of sprinklers to spicy things up seems quite tame and reasonable… Next, I’ll be more one lap races after the success of the Spa experiment…

  15. I would prefer it gone. Maybe if F1 had a calendar of 16 races (and all of them decent circuit) then I might look favourably on the odd sprint but as things stand the calendar is already too long, so why add even more races?

    Another idea if F1 had a shorter calendar, imagine if they had sprints at currently unused circuits. Imagine a sprint at Donnington on Friday, a sprint at Brands Hatch on Sunday (with very little free practise time for either sprint) and then a normal Silverstone the weekend after.

  16. Worst part in this charade is that the last sprint will be in Interlagos, where most of the races goes from excellent to non boring. I cant remember the last time the track provided a processional race.
    So the last impression about Sprint will be possibly positive.

    1. @Gusmaia 2015 race was quite processional, so yes, this circuit has occasionally also given more straightforward ones.

  17. Before the Sprint format was trialled they said they would listen to the fans. The majority of the fans aren’t impressed with the first 2 events. I’ve heard both Brawn and Domenicali say they were successful events. In what respect? If the fans don’t love it, how is it successful?

    We are the ones paying to watch F1 because we love the sport, so shouldn’t they listen to us first above sponsorship?

    1. That’s exactly it @lejimster82 – you are still paying for it.
      But you aren’t directly paying for it – you pay a broadcaster who pays for it. You pay a circuit promoter who pays for it. You indirectly pay businesses to sponsor it.

      That’s what Liberty are listening to – the sound of their bank accounts rising and their accountants squealing with delight.

  18. Make it standalone and that parc ferme rules don’t apply.

    Change the format. FP1 and sprint qualy on Friday, sprint on Saturday morning followed by FP2 and full qualy for the race.

    Award points in reverse. 20 for 20th, 19 for 19th etc and the sprint champion is the driver with the least points at the end of the season.

    Maintain pole for the Grand Prix

    Solved. £600k fee please Domenicali? 😉

    1. The standalone format is the only way the Sprint race non-races are going to happen without fans kicking and screaming. And then they can even call them races because they have nothing to do with qualifying or messing up the grid order.

      I hope F1 stays F1 however and skips the gimmicks.

      1. How about this for sprint super weekends (5 to 7 a year):
        Friday: Sprint Race with reverse grids based on championship position. Points awarded for the first 5 positions (8, 5, 3, 2, 1)
        Saturday: one-lap qualy, in order of sprint race positions (sprint race winner does the last lap).
        Sunday: normal race

  19. And just to note that this forum is not exclusive for people who dont like experiments, I would be ok with more than one race per weekend – somewhat similar to Supercars.
    In fact, some F1 tracks do not require/deserve more the 100km per race. Others would even benefit from longer races. (And yes, as the american influence grows, we will see a Spa 500km and other longer races )
    But call it a race, not Sprint quali, when the current cars limitations and added risk promote a processional event.
    Current cars do not cooperate and if a failed overtake put the car in the end of the grid, very few teams/drivers would really push during the Sprint.

    1. I think they should award more points in the sprint races to give teams an incentive to push 100% in a short race.

  20. Why not (a) admit it’s a race, and (b) call it the Petit Prix?

  21. A sometimes lost aspect of business, “know who your customer is”
    In the case of F1, you follow the money.
    “But it became clear long ago there was no realistic possibility F1 would give up on the format. A new, multi-year
    sponsorship deal linked to the sprint events – reportedly worth $100 million – was announced before the first such
    weekend was held.”
    The promoters pay the big money to F1 and if they want something to sell and fill the seats …. Done!.
    Sprint races or qualifying will be here to stay so long as the promoters see a positive return. The TV revenues don’t hurt either.
    Didn’t say I liked it, just that we need to get used to it. And …. we’re likely not the customer in this case.

  22. The answer to all your questions is money.

    1. But these are all sporting considerations, which are secondary to the reason for the format’s introduction. This, as was clear months before the first sprint qualifying race was held, is solely financial.

      Keith nailed the conclusion. Liberty media will continue to make the sport you love following less enjoyable so that it appeals to a wider audience. This is how publicly traded companies seem to work. They are unprincipled psychopathic organizations interested purely in maximizing profit.

      1. conservative race fan. F1 has always been about money, that is why Mercedes and Red Bull are racing at all in F1, or any team for that matter. And what is wrong with it appealing to a wider audience? there are many types of race fans, not all conservative. F1 has always been fairly progressive, every few years they make changes that hurt the supposed die hard’s feelings, and then those same people get used to the changes and find something else to complain about the sport – that is my observation from following since early 90s.

  23. it was clear since the begin, when they never said the criteria with which evaluate the success of it. And you know which is. This MUST fail, is a history destroy…I hoped Domenicali had a brain when he was named CEO, now you have the answer

  24. I like the idea of having qualifying on Fridays like it happened until 1995.
    I don’t bother the Saturday qualifying format because I don’t think the current format is good for television as I can’t appreciate the driver’s laps as they doing them all the same time. So I don’t really care. A sprint race is sportively better than the 2003 single-lap format.
    When will have cars able to follow other cars (which we rarely had for 25 years), the end of DRS and 30 cars? With teams able to get every GP2 champion and ditching Mazepins? That’s what’s bothers me.

  25. History was destroyed in 2003 when you stopped the open session logic of qualifying…

  26. But didn’t the Monza weekend show/say something about the sprint race? Sprint race was just as boring as silverstone, and the actual race was pretty good.

  27. I just like my F1 in 90-120 minute bites, this doesn’t automatically make me averse to change. The current “sprint” format sucks though and psychologically for the drivers the 100km limit is neither a true madcap sprint, nor is it long enough to truly get settled into. Let’s ignore reality for a sec and make a 5 lap sprint AFTER the main race, with starting spots decided by lottery or something, with double points on offer like Abu Dhabi ’14.

    This format has two advantages: it isn’t even slightly sporting, and it is most certainly showbiz. Perfect Liberty fodder.

    1. dont watch it then. i bet you have so far. i’ve found it sporting and entertaining.

  28. Liberty : Let’s make sprint qualifying great
    Racefans: let’s write yet another article tearing down sprint qualifying.

    Give it a rest already.

    I would much rather hear the next instalment of Toto vs Christian than Racefans vs sprint qualifying

    1. Liberty: Let’s change the F1 weekend so we can make more money and say it is in the name of improving the show.

      This is one of the biggest developments in F1 news as far as impact to the sport and future results are concerned that’s why so many people are concerned.

  29. I take the slightly different view. If Sprint Qualifying is so great, then let’s have it at all the races.

    Why does Domenicali think I should tune in to the 16 races which are deemed not worthy of getting the cool new shiny format with the super-duper feedback?

  30. I think the sprint races will, in time, be shown to be overwhelmingly processional, even if there is the odd exciting one, because the sensible thing for the drivers to do is not risk an incident for a slightly better grid slot. But even if that happens, they will just be turned into standalone events with significant points awarded, thus massively devaluing the Grand Prix. Despite the fact that 70% of F1 fans are against them, they are here to stay, because they bring more money (for now at least, hopefully in time they will start to lose money for F1). It has been clear since the crypto.com deal was announced that this was never ‘just a trial.’ If it really was a trial then there would be a poll on F1.com asking whether they were good or not after Brazil, with the results of the poll determining if they would be continued into 2022. But that won’t happen. This entire sprint race malarkey has been utterly shameful from the side of the F1 bosses, and has been a disgrace to the sport.

  31. More sprint race weekends mean less practice. Going to be fun in the new cars.

  32. Bwoah! Please cancel that crap!

  33. This is too bad.
    Very much not needed.
    It is muckled up.

  34. As far as i can see this only works if they allow the teams extra parts without penalties, otherwise it introduces more ware on the cars which makes replacments and penalties all the more likely.

    It hasn’t happened yet, but i can foresee accidents resulting from these sprints which impacts the main race.

    1. More unreliability? More penalties mixing up the grid?

      I’m I expect Liberty would view those as a positive…

  35. Let’s do an “experiment” where automated water guns placed on the side of the track shoot at the leader of the race.

    It will surely be “fun to watch” and increase sponsorship and the people will love it!

    Looks like I have what it takes to run F1!

  36. How far away is success ballast?

  37. More and more races; it may be the law of diminishing returns for many viewers. Too much of a good thing; in my view we may already have passed the optimum number of races per year, how many weekends do they think most folk will sacrifice to follow a complete season?
    Two races per weekend, twenty whatever races a year. They are watering down the whole series.

  38. More racing is better.

    For me the worst F1 is on a week where there is none.

    The worst day of racing weekend is Friday. I just listen to comentators and hardly watch…

    But when friday has a quali.. Woohoo..

    And then race every day?

    Format however is poor and should be improved.

    I like the idea of quali deciding Sunday race starting grid, and then Saturday is reverse of championship order..

    Let Lewis and Max show some overtakes from the back.

    10 points for P1 top 8 get points.

  39. It’s just sad. So far the Sprint races have been boring and most fans hate them.

    Of all the silly games they’ve played I don’t think anything takes more joy from the sport than sprint races. I can’t even explain why and I dread sprint weekends.

    1. i dont believe most fans hate them, as so many have watched them. i just notice in forums fans than dont like them are the vocal minority.

      1. That’s exactly it – most people won’t come on to a F1 fansite to say how much they like something, but they’ll be the first one there to tell everyone what they don’t like.

      2. Poll results were very clear though, people liked the 2nd sprint race far less than the first, which had a 5\0 average score.

      3. kpcart, even Liberty Media’s own polls and feedback sessions showed a rather mixed response at best, perhaps explaining why they hid the figures away not long afterwards – even their figures suggested it wasn’t “a vocal minority”, but rather around half the fan base that didn’t really like the idea.

        Where are you getting your claims that “so many have watched them”? Are you saying that simply because you are dismissing all criticism of the idea as “overly reactionary fans”?

        1. Just how many people actually put forward their feedback, @anon?
          All of F1’s viewers? 50%? 10%? And of those (likely less than 5%) how many would actually be representative of the wider viewership – and potential viewership?

          Polls on F1 websites are not really representative of anything, except a handful of current viewers and the users of that particular site – typically long term ones with pretty strong opinions on what they think F1 should be like.

  40. I demand that F1 start “experimenting” with FanBoost!

  41. people will get used to sprint races just like they got used to every new points system, every new qualifying system, every new engine formula, drs, halo, etc etc. I bet a lot of the haters actually watched the sprint races as opposed to watching the practise sessions. I dont watch the practise sessions much, but watching the sprint races was more of a must watch for me than even qualifying.

  42. For me the big problem is that it dilutes the importance of the Grand Prix proper. Seeing cars conduct the Sprint formation lap, start and racing laps reduces the spectacle of Sunday’s race.

    A plus point of the Sprint format is that it makes the winning of the Grand Prix more of an achievement, given the driver has had to navigate qualifying and two races.

    On balance, the negatives outweigh the positives for me.

    One other point- the trial was this year. Next year, and following, they should choose one type of format for all weekends. This endless fiddling around is damaging to the purity of the sport.

  43. We’ve had 2 of these sprints now & the whole thing just falls flat for me. It’s not just that I dislike having the sprint race but also how it affects the whole feel of the weekend for me.

    We have the single 1 hour practice session on Friday & while seeing cars on track throughout should be fun, It just ends up feeling really rushed to me so there’s no time to really take anything in.

    Qualifying on Friday is also for me just lacking something. The fact it isn’t what decides the grid takes away some of the tension & jeapody that is what makes qualifying so exciting for me. The fact that in future i’ll likely not be able to watch it live also sucks.

    The practice session on Saturday then feels pointless given how cars are in parc ferme & all doing only race running so your not seeing the usual low fuel runs you see in FP3.

    The sprint race itself I don’t like as a qualifying race but also feel that it takes something away from the Gp as we are seeing a full race build-up, Race start & racing laps which remove some of the unknowns we usually have going into the GP as we are getting a better idea of race pace.

    At both Silverstone & Monza I then went into the GP less excited &hyped than usual because i’d already seen a race build-up, I’d seen a race start & i’d seen a race. Having a better idea of everyone’s performance, How tyres would likely act, how difficult overtaking was likely to be etc.. just took away something that usually gets by hyped for the start of the GP & those unknowns that keep me invested in the Gp & that made the whole thing feel a bit flat to me.


    I like how the normal weekend format helps build tension/excitement. You have the lesser pressure, More laid back practice sessions on Friday where you can just watch & enjoy the cars doing laps. Then it builds up on Saturday with FP3 been a bit more important & then the qualifying session in the afternoon with each of the 3 segments building to the last minutes which then builds to the main event with the GP on Sunday.

    1. Well said @stefmeister, that’s pretty much exactly how I feel about the sprint weekends too; close to just ignoring F1 until the Sunday race for those 7 ‘events’ next year (which will make my wife happier with the many races too, I guess).

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