Give fans a say on whether F1 keeps sprint qualifying in 2022 – teams

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 should ask fans whether they want it to carry on with the sprint qualifying format which was introduced this year, say team bosses.

The extra Saturday races were held for the first time at the British and Italian grands prix this year. While F1 has described the format as a success, the verdict from fans and drivers has been mixed.

The third and final sprint qualifying round this year will be held at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer said F1 should canvas fans’ opinions on the format before deciding on whether to continue with it.

“We’ve got another one coming up in Brazil and thereafter we will have seen three different tracks and [can] make a decision on the future whether the benefit on a Friday outweighs some of the traditions that we usually have on Saturday,” he said.

“I think it’s only fair that we also listen to the fans. Perhaps do a bit of a fan survey to understand if the fans, both at the circuit and at home, watching TV, which they prefer.

“I think we should listen to the fans and if it’s more popular with them, then we should do more of the them.”

The second running of the sprint format at Monza prompted more negative responses after the race proved largely processional.

“Silverstone to me was a bit better, but that’s the first time we we did that,” said Szafnauer. “I think on Saturday there isn’t as much overtaking as we would hope. People just settle in and that’s what you end up with.

“So let’s see what happens in Brazil and then have a backwards look at everything and see if we’re going to do it in the future.”

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost sees positives and negatives in the format, and also believes F1 should invite feedback from fans.

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“Of course we expected maybe a little bit more overtaking manoeuvres. But we must be careful for next year we have new regulations and maybe this will change completely.

Feature: F1 has only worked out one thing about sprint qualifying: It wants more
“I think that this format is positive and I would expect that maybe next year some races will be added to this format. The only negative I see is for rookies because they have only one free practice session and then they go right into the qualifying. This is not an easy one.

“But nevertheless, as Otmar said, we have to wait now after Sao Paolo. This is the third race weekend where we have this format, then ask also the fans how they see it and then sit together and decide what we do in 2022.”

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali this week the format had been an “incredible success” and he wants around a third of races next year to include it. Ferrari’s sporting director Laurent Mekies suspects the format may be altered but not dropped for the 2022 F1 season.

“As you see today, as you have seen many times, the initial feedback is very good from everybody,” said Mekies. “We already had many loops of discussions with the FIA, with Formula 1 in the various groups. We interact with them and gave feedback. So I think it’s it’s to be expected that Stefano is planning more.

“What we say to each other, however, that we would wait for the third one to look if we want to adjust the format to maybe modify some of the parts based on what the fans’ feedback will be and what we all think.

“But I think in broad terms we already all agree that this is a positive step for the sport and therefore we would probably all expect already to have a few more of them next year.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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56 comments on “Give fans a say on whether F1 keeps sprint qualifying in 2022 – teams”

  1. Well it’s a big no from me! As much as I like the extra racing, having a Qualifying session to determine a sprint race to determine the actual race qualifying position is one too many step in my opinion! If the Sprint was just an additional standalone short race to generate some extra interest in the sport for the viewers with the shorter attention span, then fine! :-)

    1. @kev-f1 They have spoken about making them a stand-alone event rather than ‘qualifying’ but I still dislike that as they are saying they still want those races to award points with more points available in the sprint race than currently & I don’t believe that some race weekends should become more valuable than others in terms of how many points are on offer. That is for me just as bad as the double points we had at Abu Dhabi in 2014.

      But even putting the sprint race itself aside the biggest thing I dislike about the whole thing is how the format has changed the feel of the entire weekend for me (To save repeating myself, My post from a few days ago detailing why).

      The format as a whole just doesn’t work for me.

  2. “Give fans a say”… So we will see an incredibly biased survey on and the result will unsurprisingly be that the majority of fans loves the sprint races and would be open to reverse grid races or whatever gimmicks they can come up with.
    I definitely agree with what the teams are saying but hate that I don’t trust F1 to do this in an honest and fair way. I fear that whatever the fans will say, the answer is already decided upon.

    1. I’m even more cynical. I expect what you say to happen as a minimum. In reality I fear there actually are fans who are in favour. .. it is just not the type of fans to gather on nerdy race forums to read about percentage of wind tunnel time lost and gained and bicker about track limit penalties. ..

      1. baasbas, Liberty already ran the survey, initial feedback was overwhelmingly negative, Liberty decided halfway through said survey to impose more sprint events in 2022 regardless. So, we already know how “give a fans a say” will work in this instance – not enough fans think the way you fear to overturn the prevailing opinion seen on sites like this one.

    2. I can just see the survey now.

      Sprint qualifying is:
      A. A great idea
      B. The greatest idea

      1. Or
        A a great idea
        B Not so great odea
        C maybe not so great idea
        D I dont like the idea
        E no opinion

        This way the “against” camp will be splot ober 4 options amd fractured, tielding lower percentages for any of those. Favoring A

        1. Or:

          Sprint qualifying is:
          a) a great idea
          b) a fantastic idea
          c) a tremendous idea
          d) a marvellous idea
          e) an awesome idea
          f) an excellent idea
          g) none of the above (which would not be counted/result in some sort of error)

          The Crypto sponsorship on the truck in the picture above? That would have been signed off on just a three-event trial basis??? 🙄

          Regarding the article headline, the teams can ask for fans views to be considered, until the cows come home. F1 have already decided on next year already. Sprint qualifying for a third of next year’s events then…

    3. You all got it. Remember the poll after the Gasly win at Monza last year when they tried to connect the race to sprint races with the most blatant and steering questions and answers possible.

    4. Axel, we’ve already seen a survey that Liberty deliberately ignored. The teams simply haven’t fallen for it this time.

  3. NO from me, didn’t like it to begin with and still don’t like it. It just doesn’t add anything special IMHO.

  4. I have no idea where the “feedback is very good”. Certainly not from the fan sites I regularly read.

    1. From Sky and the sponsors. It’s based on the fact that more people watch quali on Friday than would have watched FP2 and the same amount (or perhaps, even more) watch the Sprint as would have watched quali on the Saturday.

    2. Yes, cos the Internet is a great source of gauging interest in something

      1. Better than sampling from one live audience event (ignoring all other fan feedback from any source, including the other live audience event) plus one sponsor (which appears to be what happened).

    3. How many of us normally don’t watch FP2 but tuned into watch Qualifying on Friday? Doesn’t matter if we like it or not as long as we watch and see all the ads and sponsorships.

      1. I have a job so friday viewing is not possible for me. And please don’t repeat what others have said about recording it to watch it later – most fans prefer to watch live sport over recorded sport

        1. I’m in the USA– watching F1 live is something I gave up on years ago. At this point, I’m annoyed when I have to wait for the Montreal, Texas, Mexico and Brazil races.

      2. @lancer033 How many of us did that because we were British fans and the British Grand Prix is our one opportunity to see all the sessions live anyhow?

    4. Feedback, from what I can tell, was the aural Silverstone crowd feedback, plus the sponsorship deal.

  5. Let’s step back and remember why Liberty wanted to try this.

    Very few people watch the practice sessions. The qualifying gets many more viewers, but the big viewing figures are just for the race.

    The Premier League has 380 games in total, NHL has 82 games per season per team, MLB has 162 games for each of the 30 teams.

    F1 has 23 races.

    Liberty want more races.

    As a fan for 35 years there are many things I can find to complain about modern F1. But having more races is not one of them. Yes sprint races are not great as a way to make a grid but the idea of more races – yes I like that!

    So how about this:

    Friday am = Q1a Q2a Q3a
    Friday pm = Q1b Q2b Q3b
    Saturday = Grand Prix A. Full points full distance – a proper race.
    Sunday = Grand Prix B. Full points full distance – a proper race.

    Ideally Sunday’s Grand Prix B would have a different layout – I’m thinking Bahrain style or at least different tyres. But many tracks could run a different layout.

    So we as fans end up with:
    – twice as many races
    – twice as many qualifying sessions
    – No false grids
    – No practice sessions so a little more surprises for Q1a etc

    Teams have no extra weekends, no more miles to transport or no further distances to drive the cars.

    Liberty get 2 x the number of races.


    1. The problem is on one side we have Liberty, that’s trying to jam as many races into the calendar as will fit.

      On the other side, we have the FIA trying to turn the sport into a cut-rate budget spec series.

      We’re going to wind up with a bunch of unwatchable races.

    2. The problem with all that is that many fans are finding the current number too many as it is and find the additional sprint races damage every single other session around them (including the race – 400,000 fewer people watched the British GP Sunday race than the sprint in the UK). So the result is more races, but fewer people watching each one. I would be interested to see the Italian GP viewing statistics on a per-session basis in the UK compared to the Dutch and Russian Grands Prix, but suspect that the sprint-bearing event may have reduced viewers compared to its surrounding non-sprint events.

  6. The problem was they picked courses where you can’t overtake

    1. It’s more that they came up with a format that does not incentivise overtaking. When the reward is a single place on the Grand Prix starting grid (and a single championship point if you happen to be in the top 3), and the risk is that you drop all the way to the back, it’s unsurprising that drivers won’t go for it.

      1. @red-andy I honestly don’t even think the incentive is a big part of the problem. Even if you offered full points for the top 10 you still wouldn’t see much overtaking because the cars simply aren’t capable of doing it without big differences in performance, which are usually caused by either having fast cars out of position, or different strategies playing out. The problem is that after the first lap, the opening stint of the grand prix is always the most processional because everyone is on the same age and usually compound of tyres. Only it’s worse in the sprint because you aren’t even waiting for one car to attempt an undercut and trigger more pitstops – you know everyone is going to the end on one set of tyres so drivers are just managing their pace until the chequered flag.

        Commentators and people in F1 (such as Brawn) keep commenting on how racing drivers are competitive animals and they’re going to ‘go for it’ etc etc, but the issue is they can’t ‘go for it’. They don’t even have an opportunity to ‘go for it’ after the first lap. So I feel they are missing the point on this subject. It’s not about incentive. It’s about the fundamentals of current F1 racing and the current sprint format only emphasises the issues that are already there.

        1. Bit late to the thread (opened page before week of holiday, now back ;), thanks for both of your useful posts @red-andy and @keithedin, I guess both of you are sort of right, but indeed, when it’s this hard to overtake, and then the incentive isn’t big either then these sprints don’t add anything but spoil tension for the races. I guess that if the 2022 rules work we might see some more action in these sprints; not at all sure they are what I need, but we will see I suppose.

      2. @red-andy I hear your vote for a full points sprint race.. ;)

  7. Well they’ve already had two surveys? The fact that they announced a multi year sponsorship deal and have also announced plans to expand the format as well as the number of races. It certainly seems to have been a fait accompli with nothing more than lip service paid to the fans.

  8. Just so they can fabricate fan feedback again? No thanks.

  9. The results of the two most recent F1 Fan Voice surveys on sprint races were not made public. In their July “what you told us this month” newsletter, it’s as if the British Grand Prix sprint and the corresponding survey never happened. They went a step further after the Italian Grand Prix sprint and survey, and decided to simply not release a newsletter for September. That should make it pretty clear what the fan feedback has been like. And that F1 has no intention of dropping the format just because fans say they don’t like it.
    I’m curious to see how they will handle the “Global F1 Fan Survey 2021” conducted together with Motorsport Network. It included several questions on sprint races, and they say the results of the survey will be released in the run-up to the US GP. Surely, they can’t just withhold the feedback on sprint races there too.

    1. @moctecus When they had the fan voice survey on the sprint up after Silverstone it started to lean more towards mostly negative and then they pulled it off the site & as you say never included the results in any of the places the results are usually displayed.

      I think it’s clear that the response to the gimmick race format from fans has been way more negative than they were hoping & that they are now simply trying to cover that up.

      I also think the way that teams & drivers are now talking about it & even little remarks that broadcasters are dropping (Such as Brundle saying after Monza that he loves it but that he doesn’t think those who matter do) also points towards them knowing that most of the reaction to the gimmick format has been negative.

  10. All the comments from the FIA sound very fatalistic, it sounds like the decision is already made.

    It feels as though any “ask the fans” feedback will be used to legitimise that decision. Fan Polls are quite easy to sway to your own agenda. For example, I enjoyed watching the Sprint Race – but I feel they detract from the sport, make some races more valuable than others, and mean you have differing sets of rules for different race weekends. I’d rather they weren’t in F1 and that the main race was *the* race.

    1. @geekzilla9000 Fan polls might be easy to sway to one’s one agenda, but Liberty’s complete failure to do so (despite evidence indicating attempts were made in that direction) shows how harmful fans as a whole think the idea of a sprint race (as demonstrated in Britain and Italy so far) is.

  11. Just try it with a reverse championship grid already! then it’ll be entertaining.

    1. It would also be horribly artificial & way too much of a gimmick.

      It’s also something that a vast majority of fans have repeatedly voted against over the years with every single poll or survey that the FIA, F1, The GPDA or publications such as Autosport concluding from the results that a vast majority of F1 fans don’t want F1 to introduce gimmicks.

      In 2015 the GPDA put together a survey which over 200,000 fans took part in. 89% of fans said they were against gimmicks with sprint races, reverse grid races & success ballast been options that got next to no support. Another equally large survey was conducted by the GPDA in 2017 which got the same results. New questions added also saw 70% of fans say the calendar should consist of no more than 19-20 races & a huge majority saying they didn’t like DRS or high degredation tires. 80% also said they wanted less restrictive regulations that allowed for more innovation & vastly different design concepts.

      Just shows how little the sport actually listens to it’s fans when they do ask for our views as they are essentially doing everything thats the complete opposite of the results in there own surveys & 200,000+ is a significant pool to take results from.

      1. From the 2017 survey.

        Formula 1 fans firmly reject any artificial ‘gimmicks’ to enhance racing. Fans reinforce calls from 2015 to re-establish tyre competition.

        Once again you have told us decisively that you don’t want any ‘artificial’ changes to spice up racing. So, a resounding NO from you for:
        • sprinkler systems
        • success ballast
        • reverse grids, or
        • rapidly de-grading tyres

        Similarly, you have told us, very clearly, that you are happy with the current format of the GP weekend, so NO to:
        • Saturday races
        • 3rd (Reserve) driver races, and
        • Two shorter races at GP

    2. Did you like that artificial crowd cheering they added too?

    3. I like the idea of at least trying a version of reverse grid. The current sprint-format simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t add anything interesting, it just elongates the least interesting part of the normal race weekend – the part were all cars just settles in and waits for an opportunity. If we want interesting racing, allowing the faster cars to simply get a bigger head start isn’t going to help. But, faster cars will never want to start further back unless they gain something from it. For this to work out, several changes has to be implemented simultaneously. That, unfortunately, makes it difficult to trial at just a selected few events.

      Anyway, I would like to see this tried:
      – Qualifying sets the grid for the Sprint.
      – Top 10 finishers of the Sprint are rewarded championship points. The full Sprint results set the grid for the main Race, but the top 10 is reversed.
      – The points scoring system for the main Race is extended to cover the full grid.

      This would mean that…
      – Every position gained in Qualifying rewards a driver with a better starting position in the Sprint.
      – For the bottom half of the field, every position gained in the Sprint is rewarded with a better starting position in the Race.
      – For the top half of the field, every position gained in the Sprint is rewarded by championship points, but will result in a lower starting position for the main Race (still in the top 10, though).
      – Every position gained in the main Race is rewarded with championship points. (I imagine a full-grid points system would reward the Race winner about 40-50 points, and 10-15 points for the Sprint win.)

      This way, for the competitors on track there is always something to gain by trying to improve their current position. But fans will regularly get to see faster cars starting behind slower cars which usually makes for more interesting races with more overtaking.
      I don’t think this would feel as “artificial” as simply reversing the grid in championship order. The problem with doing that is that it outright disadvantages those that perform well, which is what feels wrong and artificial to most people I think.

    4. Unfortunately not, because there still wouldn’t be incentive or much opportunity to make a difference. At best, it would be press-to-overtake DRS passing.

  12. Whats the most exciting part of a race? the start. We get two of them during the weekend, thats the idea here guys. Two starts at Monza is a win for everyone. For the people who are against it, The numbers are in. The amount of people who tuned in on fri was insane compared to the free practice sessions.. its a no brainer when f1 saw that number. Only poeple who have time on their hands watch the FPS on fri and you know. Most watch highlights but you will tune in for quali, won’t you?

    1. It’s the same as saying people would watch if there was more overtaking, but that is not true or they would watch some other series with close racing and overtaking galore like some touring car championship.

      The allure of F1 is something else. It should be difficult to overtake, and it should be a longer distance where cars spread out. It’s actually what people are drawn to.

    2. Two starts at Monza turned out to be a loss for this fan – it made the second start far more predictable than it would have been had the original qualifying order been allowed to stand.

      And no, along with most F1 fans in the UK, I did not get to watch quali (or even record it), because that priviledge was only extended to Sky viewers.

  13. Hypocrites.
    FIA already hardcore committed to the clown show.
    From pressure from the Owners desperate to attract N American viewers.
    Bean Counters ruin, spoil, emasculate yet another business.

  14. The very idea of so called sprint qualifying is very stupid and votes on F1voice and the deceased ‘fans’ voted by snail mail – apparently, Liberty media was very excited by the new exciting technologies used in US elections.
    IMHO the only thing real fans can do is to boycott these stupid gimmicks in a feeble hope that TV ratings and empty stands will make them to back off.

    1. Sergey Martyn Fans already voted in force against the measures, the majority of fans won’t get to watch quali if it’s on Friday and some fans I know are already boycotting all sprints. Nothing changed.

  15. Not a fan of the sprint, never have been and probably never will be.

  16. No for me.

    F1 is good when there’s competition for P1 in most races, and race format won’t fix that.

  17. No! More isn’t always better, especially more of what exactly? Not a race, not a qualy session and obviously no one’s looking forward to it. Drivers seem like bus drivers, just doing their job and can’t wait to be done with it and go to prepare for the actual race.

  18. I really wish that F1 won’t ask the fans. Really!

    I believe that the sprint races will be run, no matter what the feedback may be (hint: a multi-year sponsorship has been signed for the thing). So, please don’t add insult to the injury by pretending to listen before doing what has already been decided.

    1. Bob C, bit late for that given Liberty have already issued 2 surveys and been given extremely clear negative feedback.

  19. I like the fact that with one less practice session, there is so much less data for the teams to have, which makes the final race far more exciting, free tire choice for everyone is one part of it. To make the Saturday ‘race’ better, they need to do something. And since Max and Lewis always crash into each other in the Sunday race, I can’t wait for the Brazil session and twitter universe to explode again …

  20. Go on F1 fan voice and ask this question as part of the current survey. They want to know if we have questions about how F1 uses the survey info. Flood it with why still sprint races when there is overwhelming negative support questions.

    1. @ryanoceros They did ask about sprint races, but unfortunately I don’t think they gave any free-text space (having learned from the FIA’s survey in 2010 that fans tend to use it to ask awkward questions they don’t like).

      1. It’s only free text space this week.

  21. If Liberty ask me if I like Sprint, probably they will ban me from every social media

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