Sprint format criticism mainly from “avid” F1 fans on social media

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 insists its sprint qualifying format remains overwhelmingly popular with casual and new fans, and its doubters are chiefly “avid fans” voicing their criticisms on social media.

The series will run its third and final sprint qualifying event of this season at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix next week. It plans an expansion of the format to six events, with some modifications, for the 2022 F1 season.

A recent, F1-backed survey of over 167,000 fans revealed the split in public reaction to the new format. Asked whether they felt sprint qualifying had “improved the show”, 40% (two in five) agreed and 34% (more than one in three) disagreed.

However F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn pointed out that even critics of the format had watched the additional races on Saturdays.

“The avid fans, our real, dedicated fans, have not been convinced yet, they’re indifferent,” he said. “They all watched it, by the way, they didn’t turn off. They were fascinated by [it].

Report: F1 could name ‘Sprint champion’ among other possible changes to format in 2022
“But the majority of our ‘normal’ fans and particularly our new fans were positive about the concept. They particularly liked the action on a Friday. They felt Friday was now worth watching which it hadn’t been before.”

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has repeatedly talked up the public reaction to sprint qualifying races. Speaking after the second sprint qualifying race at Monza, which Sergio Perez described as being “boring for fans [and] boring for drivers”, Domenicali said “the vast majority of the comment that we receive are totally positive”.

Brawn said the positive response F1 has seen in its surveys to sprint qualifying was not reflected in the social media reaction.

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“Given the millions of fans we have watch the event, then it’s true to say that the fans we have who are so engaged that they enter into social media comments are a relatively small percentage – an important percentage, don’t get me wrong – they’re the ones which I mentioned at the beginning, the avid fans who were a bit indifferent about it. We’ve had them say ‘yes’ and we’ve had them say ‘no’.

“But as you delve down into all the other surveys we do with ‘medium’ different fans and casual fans and all the rest of it, we get a very strong positive on this. So I think that’s the comment that Stefano was making. And I think, as I say, we all recognise that social media isn’t always the best perspective on the sport where we’ve got 14 million fans watching a race.”

However Brawn said the sport intends to proceed cautiously with the expansion of the format to six events next year. This is likely to include revisions such as making it a stand-alone race which awards more points.

“From a fan perspective we’ve had a good response,” he explained. “We look at the demographics and we seem to have engaged some more younger and casual audience with the sprint.”

“In terms of how dramatic we make a change […] we’re going to be relatively conservative in the step we make for next year. What we don’t want to do is lose it because we’ve been overambitious.

“We need to have enough content, enough engagement to make it worthwhile and we don’t want to spoil it by overstepping and people feeling it’s gone too far. Plus, we have the new cars next year, which in themselves are going to be quite a big story.”

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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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121 comments on “Sprint format criticism mainly from “avid” F1 fans on social media”

  1. Of course, the ‘avid’ fans are the fans who know what they’re talking about.

    Gotta be careful about disregarding the core fan’s opinion too much, otherwise you turn into modern NASCAR.

    1. No, just being an avid fan or watching Formula One for decades doesn’t mean you know what you’re talking about. Motorsport forums are proof of that.

      But these avid fans will voice their opinions more than the casual fans, leading to the false impression, that they are the majority.

      I think the formula is very simple: watching qualifying is more fun than watching free practice, watching a race is more fun than watching qualifying. Only the most avid of fans will argue that Formula One needs less racing and more free practice, because watching free practice is what the fans really want.

      1. The structure of a Formula 1 weekend is rooted in a more ‘old fashioned’ paradigm of building anticipation towards a big main event. The modern world doesn’t have the patience for that, we live in a society where anticipation and patience are not considered virtues in the same way they once were, so you see a lot of the sports world looking for ‘more’ and ‘quicker’. We want more action and more quickly!

        The trouble is this only serves to water down whatever spectacle you’re building to. Much of the excitement and fulfilment in engaging in an activity is the anticipation in the run up to it. I fear if F1 pander too heavily to this trend then they will (after an initial rise) start to see a drop off in interest from the more casual fans.

        Formula 1 is a relatively high investment sport, that’s why fans tend to stick around for a long time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to broaden its appeal, but it will come at a cost.

        1. I mainly agree Gary. I also have faith in Brawn’s approach though and believe he understands the importance of the “avid” fans and also the casually interested flitters, the key is to find a balance. I believe there’s a solution to be found in the sprint races.

          1. Gary @twentyseven Well it might come at a cost, but at the same time it might engage more people and make them avid and latch on to a favourite driver or team and want to see how they do through a season more and more as the season goes along. I do get the concept of watering down the product, but for me the big changes they have made to the budgets, the money distribution, and especially the cars shouldn’t be overshadowed by Sprints, and have only bolstered the sport, not watered it down.

            For me sticking with the current type of clean air dependent cars, and then following that up with more DRS, and then reverse grids to make up for processions would be watering it down. Rather they have a great opportunity now to offer close combat with less predictability, and I hope for the usage of DRS as Domenicali envisioned could happen…use it simply as a drag reducer on the selected straights in order to save fuel, used by all cars no matter their proximity to another car, once in the designated zones. That way, fair for all drivers and not used as a tool for a trailing driver to have an unfair advantage over a leading driver but simply as a tool to save fuel (and promote speeds on straights) by reducing drag.

        2. Formula 1 is a relatively high investment sport, that’s why fans tend to stick around for a long time.

          Indeed. Easy come, easy go.

          The more casual the fan, the harder it is to keep them engaged. This often results in the use of tribalism (like nationalism), fake drama and gimmicks to keep people entertained, but there is nothing unique about these methods. It can also make the the sport very dependent on a few stars.

          1. Exactly my take on it too. The drive for more exposure, more fans, more revenue, can become a race to the bottom if not handled appropriately. The integrity of the sport – its depth of value – can become undermined through the near constant search to appeal to an increasingly broad audience.

            I don’t know how it will go for F1. I just hope they manage to find an appropriate balance without resorting to any gimmicks or contrived drama.

          2. Gary true and I’m sure Brawn gets that with his wording about going ahead conservatively and not wanting to push things too far with Sprints. I reiterate what I keep saying, which is that the very fact they have rallied the teams to agree to budget caps, better money distribution, and cars that can race closely, not to mention the environmental greening up of the sport, as well as their initiatives towards racing as one, and paying more and more attention to mental health issues, shows they have every intention of trying to do the best they can for the sport. I personally will not let all that be overshadowed by Sprints.

          3. @Robbie, I see what you’re saying and agree really. I’m not necessarily against Sprint races, and F1 has made some awesome steps forward too, so I’m still very much intrigued to see which direction the sport goes in next. Having been a fan since 1994, and having followed it closely every year since, it will take quite a lot before I consider walking away!

          4. @robbie I think that some feel that they are being badly treated because of the blitz of publicity from Liberty Media and the statements from Brawn which encouraged people to “give it a go” and not to make a judgement before watching some of those sprint races. Having done so, the fact that Brawn is then saying “well, you watched those races” feels like a bit of an insult to those who did what he asked them to do, which was to watch and make a judgement afterwards.

            They dislike what they feel is dishonesty on the part of Liberty Media, and they dislike the other comments made by Brawn that indicate that the most important part is how much they can charge for it, rather than what it does for the sport.

          5. @anon

            Nailed it

        3. perfectly said

  2. Been an avid fan since 1986. I didn’t watch either of them and wont be watching the next one. Complete waste of time and not needed by anyone interested in the sport of F1.

    1. Complete waste of time and not needed by anyone interested in the sport of F1.

      Gotta love gatekeeping.

    2. I didn’t ether and because I knew the grid would be screwed any way I didn’t even watch the race ether. I lost so much interest in F1 that I find other things in my life suddenly sufficiently important to take priority over F1. I even missed an apparently great race in Austin. There was a sailing race worth watching if I remember. And yes ,Ross, I was an avid fan for over 50 years and worked in Motorsport for 10 of them.

    3. @laurencemeehan

      I also didn’t watch them. In fact, not watching them Saturday led to me not watching the British GP. Only watched the highlights.

      Hey but there are only alienating their core customers, what could go wrong?

    4. “That thing I didn’t watch was rubbish”

      1. Ok well I watched both and can confirm they were, indeed, rubbish.

        1. Avid fan here, i can confirm Alex is right.

          1. I’m a veritable dinosaur here, getting into F1 watching James Hunt (1976, I was 8) and I’d like to offer my full support to @kerrymaxwell view of the ‘sprint thingy’.

            It subtracted from the Grand Prix, it almost eliminates the value of real qualifying, it messes with a fine tradition and IMHO, the ‘sprint thingy’ is one gimmick too far removed from the essence of F1.

          2. Oops, this dinosaur fumbling the technology here, I would actually rather add my support to @f1alex ;}

  3. So the fans that matter dont matter Mr Brawn? We watch it because its F1. But we are not happy with it.

  4. I fear this sport is running by idiots.

    “they like it, you see, as they didn’t turn it off”. Err. That’s a positive then? What a clown show.

    1. we don’t want to spoil it by overstepping and people feeling it’s gone too far.

      Yet somehow I feel like this has been the exact opposite of reality since the mid 90s!

  5. If you bet on new convert fans, please don’t forget that the next year or even the next day they will easily convert to Squid Game and whatever “exciting” new formats proposed by “effective managers” and forget F1 with all their stupid new bells and whistles in just a fraction of a second.

    1. That is indeed the mistake they make. ‘Nurture the core and grow more’ is the path that should be chosen. But I am afraid there are quite some fossils running the show, so they will find out the hard way

    2. I’m intrigued to know the definition of a “new” fan, and how someone new can accurately comment on if something is better or not than before.

  6. “They all watched it, by the way, they didn’t turn off. They were fascinated by [it].
    So all they actually care about is that people are watching? Not what the loyal fans actually think?
    I am all for F1 changing as the reach grows, but this statement is worrying…. I mean if they gave the drivers a bunch of banana peals to throw on the track, i am definitely going to still watch, but that doesn’t make it good for F1……..

    1. it is some sort of “car crash” efffect. the fact that there is people watching do not necessarily mean they approve or want to see more of it.
      It is really worrying. Maybe some people watched because fia spend weeks saying it would be awesome and will have great impact on sunday. It didnt. Now many people know their tricks and it may not work again. But they might insist on gimmmick after gimmick just because people kept the tvs on to see a disaster. The fans may be watching but not as sign of support but almost as pity “F1 go home, youre embarrasing yourself”.

  7. So, your core audience that has followed for decades and over the said years spent the most money for the love of the sport and its adjunct businesses were it merchandise and other vendors/partnerships and care enough to engage in conversation, including both praise and criticism on multiple platforms even before social media….don’t matter ?

    The mystical “new” audience, to whom the sport is just one of many, many forms of consumable entertainment and (in your opinion) equipped with the attention span of a goldfish are in need of gimmick after gimmick to keep watching
    are taking precedence over your true fans. The new audience can go away and watch something else on a whim, I’d wager the most of us Racefans wont.

    …but what do i know, 1984 -> present

    1. Plus, you won’t get new fans hiding your content behind pay walls like Sky.

    2. Fia should take a lesson from other leagues/franchises. Some changes do not bring new audiences and repel old audiences.

      1. Depends on his many older audiences they repel.

    3. yeah, i doubt it makes sense to hope that Netflix keeps bringing in enough new fans to replace others who give up. And yeah, I guess it is a positive that I can now “vote with my purse” by stopping to subscribe to the (really good) F1TV app once I find that they took this too far.

      I did watch the first one out of curiosity. The second one to see whether maybe, just maybe it would be better. No interest in watching the 3rd one, it just took away the excitement for qualifying before it and lessened my anticipation for the race on top.

  8. So here is why I believe Formula 1 should listen to the avid fans more than the new and casual fans:
    In terms of the casual fans, I personally think a fan base where almost everyone who watches absolutely loves it is more pleasant than one where lots of people only watch it occasionally and don’t really care, and there are fewer fans who really love it. And the more ‘casual’ the fans are, the more likely they are to be watching for a crash, which is not good for the sport. Also, casual fans will switch off after one dull season, whereas avid fans do not.

    And new fans are not the same as casual fans, but also should not be listened to more than avid fans. I am sure that when I first started watching Formula 1 as a six-year-old with no knowledge of the sport, I would have been in favour of sprint races, and reversed grids too, but in years of learning about Formula 1 and its history, and also about other motorsport series, I have turned against those things. And I am sure that these new fans will either switch off regardless of whether there are sprint races are not, or will become avid fans and will also turn against sprint races when they realise that other series have short races, and F1 is almost unique in it’s one long Grand Prix with almost no gimmicks and is the pinnacle of motorsport. Not all will, obviously, as some avid fans like sprint races, but more than 50% will turn against it, I predict.

  9. OK Ross, so how about us ‘avid fans’ – you know, the ones whose support meant that F1 was worth the $4.4bn that Liberty Media paid for it back in 2017 – vote with our wallets and stop subscribing to expensive TV sports packages or attending races?

    MotoGP is often a more impressive spectacle, you can watch a live race from the stands for about £60 and the TV coverage is much better at a fraction of the cost.

    Be careful not to take your base for granted, Mr Brawn. Lose us and you’ll have nothing left.

    1. This. I can watch IMSA for free live or about a week after on youtube and I can watch WEC for £30 live (or immediate replay) or for free a week after on youtube. Okay, so F1 is great this season but if we see another 2011 or 2013 then my ability to care will be partly dependent upon how much casual stuff I need put up with.

  10. By now I am no longer surprised, but still disappointed to see how far Ross Brawn is willing to go to push sprint races and dismiss any opposition.

    Immediately after the British GP Sprint, Brawn said the response he’d seen on social media was “very positive” and that fans “loved” it. Now, he says criticism mainly comes from a small number of avid fans on social media. So, negative feedback on social media is to be dismissed, positive feedback is worth shouting out on TV?

    Brawn and Domenicali keep saying the majority of the fans are in favour of the format, but they have so far not provided the results of a single survey supporting that. The Motorsport Network survey shows that the majority of fans either dislikes the format or hasn’t made up their mind yet / is neutral. But saying it was “net positive” by 6% sounds better, I guess. F1 have not released more detailed results broken down by type of fan or age group, so we are just supposed to take their word for it. F1 is also withholding the results to every single one of their Fan Voice surveys and polls on sprint races. But we are supposed to take their word for it that those have all been “very positive” as well. Also, the avid fans opposing the format are not really opponents, they are “indifferent” and just haven’t been convinced yet.

    In the Global Fan Survey, fans overwhelmingly opposed the idea of having sprints at every race. Domenicali was quick to claim they were not even thinking about it. Now, Brawn says the sprint format may eventually become the standard.

    Brawn says opponents of the format still watched the sprints, claiming they were “fascinated” by them. As he well knows, fans don’t just turn off and miss an important part of the weekend. Even if they absolutely hate the format with a passion, they watch it and if they don’t like it, complain about it. Doubly so with this 3-race “trial” of a new format.

    Brawn’s and Domenicali’s recent comments seem to confirm what @gt-racer mentioned hearing a few months back:
    “One thing i’ve heard though from more than one person is that Liberty’s focus is the younger/casual audience and they are operating on the belief that the longer time/more dedicated fans will stick around regardless of what they change so they can afford to change any aspect of F1 they wish to.”

    1. @moctecus

      I guess Brawn and Domeniciali are right, us “avid” fans will stick around no matter what. I dont like the sprint race, but I watch it anyway, because it has an effect on the race…looks like they’ve got our number.

      But yeah, the context in which the “avid” fan is discussed seems to parallel politicians and the “masses”.

  11. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    2nd November 2021, 8:57

    Damn those pesky die hard, passionate fans.

    1. Buggers aren’t they?

    2. Who are perfectly reinforcing their predictable stereotype…

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        2nd November 2021, 12:55

        Of not liking gimmicks yes. What a stereotype.

        1. Including calling features they don’t like “gimmicks” – yes.

          1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            2nd November 2021, 16:19

            Artificial forced entertainment is a gimmick – yes.

          2. Do F1 cars race around in nature with nobody watching, @rdotquestionmark?
            Everything you see in F1 is artificial, forced entertainment.
            Some of it you like, some of it you don’t.

            Do you watch anything else on TV?

  12. Nurture the core and grow more is the golden rule. Otherwise you become a telco focussing on getting people in at the front while leaving the back door wide open. This means you will have a totally different set of fans every two years. Better get your deep deep wallet out there since this strategy is the most expensive one, basically buying your audience over and over again. Textbook mistake from Liberty here.

    1. So the motive? Its either plain stupidity or they will be selling soon and need additional ‘subscribers’ to boost the price. My bet is on the latter. As said before, Liberty is not in this for the love of the sport. Such a sad conclusion again. The old boys are just making money.

  13. again I am not against change and I think I talk for many fans when I say that a saturday race would be ok if it didnt mess with qualifying and didnt reinforce the unfortunate processional effect many races present.
    maybe the 2022 cars will solve this thng by themselves but Sprint quali is just more of the boring same and I think this – not resistance to change – is the root of the avid fans opposition.

  14. So agreement to sprint qualifying comes mostly from ‘new’ or ‘casual’ fans.
    Casual fans watch F1 because they find it entertaining.
    After a while, a season or two, they may decide that something else is more entertaining and switch to watching that.
    Casual fans are unlikely to pay for expensive TV packages, grandstand seats or merchandise.
    As most businesses have found out the hard way, it is very expensive to get a new customer.
    There are any number of examples of businesses from history who are no longer around because they spent their money trying to find new customers and neglected their repeat customers.

    1. I think ‘casual fans’ won’t even watch a full season. Casual fans hear about a race because it advertised or geographically close to them, tune in because they’ve recently been reminded F1 exists or their avid F1 fan is talking about and it’s piqued their curiosity.

      I highly doubt they watch an entire season, they jump in and jump out just as quickly.

      I’d consider myself a die hard F1 enthusiast, I’ve shared my enthusiasm with hundreds of casual fans, rarely do they watch a race, rarely do they know any driver other than the current highly promoted WDC. Recently someone asked me how Michael Schumacher is doing up against Hamilton. They didn’t know Michael was no longer at Ferrari! But they did know he was their favourite driver this year.

  15. “The avid fans, our real, dedicated fans, have not been convinced yet, they’re indifferent,” he said. “They all watched it, by the way, they didn’t turn off. They were fascinated by [it].

    No Mr Brawn not indifferent and definitely not fascinated..disappointed! You continue to push out highly exaggerated numbers and now you are telling me how I feel?
    With the announcement of the sprint series next year with the full knowledge it will diminish the Sunday GP. You and Liberty have thumbed your noses at the ‘avid’ fans to go after the quick buck, it will come back to bite.

  16. I am not sure people appreciate what is going on here.

    Liberty have locked down the grid to 10. There’s a more ‘fair’ distribution of prize money and now a budget cap. ALL the teams are going to be billion pound operations. The sprint qualifying was just the start… worse is to come in time. Reverse grids the lot.

    The ‘avid’ fan is meaningless in this equation. When the teams are turning over billions avid fan opinions will be worthless. The sport is very very different now, and going forward.

    1. In the end though, those billions need to be earned. The irregular fan won’t fork out an expensive payTV subscription or visit a track with 400 euro a ticket. The current idea can add value for short term, when the hot potatoe can be sold again to Netflix for example.

      1. F1 in the UK has been behind a paywall (live) for ages and Silverstone has no issue selling out. Formula 1 is a behemoth with no competition in the market. They know the numbers and the metrics. If anyone thinks the ‘avid’ fan is gonna hold back their plans… well… I have bad news for them.

        1. Alan Dove, it was only back in 2016 that some limitations began to come in on the number of races which were shown free to air in the UK, and it is only since 2019 that Sky was given the exclusive rights to broadcast all races live. I would therefore say it’s questionable to claim that it’s been behind a paywall “for ages” when it’s really only been since 2019 that it’s been completely behind a paywall, with the British Grand Prix also still being broadcast free to air to the public.

          The extended transition period in the switchover from free to air to subscription only services does also make the UK unique in that respect, and looking only at that can give a misleading impression. In other nations, where there has been the more usual abrupt transition from free to air to pay TV, the decline in public interest has been much sharper.

          Germany, for example, has seen viewing figures collapse by around 75-80% after they switched to pay TV only, and for Liberty Media, the worrying signs should be that not only is wider public interest dropping, sponsorship from German companies – which is significant, being the fourth largest spenders by nation in terms of sponsors – has also been declining.

      2. Though it’s only in the UK that it’s expensive as almost everywhere there is F1TV available at a relatively reasonable price.

  17. petebaldwin (@)
    2nd November 2021, 9:22

    “The avid fans, our real, dedicated fans, have not been convinced yet, they’re indifferent,” he said. “They all watched it, by the way, they didn’t turn off. They were fascinated by [it].”

    And there it is… I’ve watched the sprints so far and despite hating them, was going to watch Brazil as well because it’s fairly essential to the season. You’ve given me a strong reason to switch off now by essentially mocking me for my support of the series.

    1. @petebaldwin you’ve hits straight on it.

      They specifically wanted us to watch the sprints with an open mind as a “trial”.

      We did, we gave feedback that it did absolutely nothing to improve the show, and they’ve totally ignored that with this weaseling statement of “they watched it by the way”

      I’m done. Won’t be watching Brazil because of the sprint, won’t be watching Saudi or Qatar because neither should exist as race venues, and definitely won’t be watching the 6 events next year that have sprints.

      In some ways that gets me back to a more realistic number of races anyway but rest assured, next year I’ll be seriously evaluating my subscription to F1.

      That’s how satisfied a 50 year fan of the sport I am.

      1. @dbradock I respect your opinion and whatever action you decide to take. The strongest vote you can make, the strongest voice you can have, is to not watch.

        Just for me, as you know, as a similarly 50 year fan I am still just above all else grateful to even have F1 at all, and am happy to follow the saga and the history of F1 with all it’s bumps and bruises along the way. As I’ve said numerous times, the Sprint concept is for me small potatoes compared to the massive and necessary changes they have made to F1, so I’ll still be along for the ride. I can say it will bother me if they go to reverse grids for the Sprints next year, and I think they should at a minimum see how the new cars race in anger before they decide that reverse grids for the Sprint are needed to create action. Sure, there would be a lot of action from that particularly with cars far less harmed in dirty air, but by the same token with such cars there should be less of a worry of processions and I hope for the new cars to invite much more action even with cars lined up fastest to slowest on average.

        What I refuse to do is project doom and gloom on F1’s future out of speculation, and rather, just as they don’t hand out the trophies until all the races of the season have been run, I will take things a race at a time, and am ultra stoked for the new chapter, including with Sprint races, which I think could potentially with the tweaks they do, and with the new cars, be more palatable to some. I am also just as happy and grateful with the normal format weekends as I would be if they dropped the Sprint concept altogether.

        I suppose one way to word it is that something will have to hit me in the gut about a change they make that gets me to the point you are, and so far that has not happened. Rather I am so encouraged by what Liberty and Brawn have done post-BE to make F1 live for another day but in a much more balanced way than BE/CVC left it. Imho they’ve already made F1 much better for the future in terms of a baseline for adjustments they will make going forward.

  18. Of course avid fans watched the sprints, they were not fascinated, they were just on a fact finding mission.

    If Ross needs help in understanding that, then he should read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”.

    1. Great comment

  19. An attempt to construct and argument in favour of a 100 million dollar deal which ensures that sprint qualifying will be around regardless of whatever survey’s were taken. Done in a way that insults the avid fans.

  20. It is a consumer thing. F1 as any sport or company has those fans who are on top of the pyramid. They are not going to drop from there unless F1 stops all along. Next step are the ones who will watch all the races but don’t buy all the official merchandise and spend a little less money than those above. They also will follow F1 as long as they can. Then there are the ones who may skip a race or two but they know what is going on in the world of F1. All of these guys will go watch F1 live if for them it’s possible. Then there is the lowest part of pyramid. The ones who don’t yet have a “history” of watching the sport for a (long) time. These are the people which every company wants. They want to grow this part of pyramid and get new “clients” or viewers to grow the business even more. It is a clear cut that this part is the one every company focuses on. This also means that those hardcore fans may feel that they have been left out. F1 as every company hopes that those hardcore consumers will stay whatever happens. Of course those hardcore fans are the most vocal and it may cause some issues.

  21. I used to thoroughly respect Ross Brawn. He even felt like something of an independent voice in the corporate world of F1.

    That respect has pretty much evaporated.

    1. Totally second that. The man squandered his legacy.

    2. @sonnycrockett I was never a big fan of his, particularly during the Ferrari years but at least had some respect for the way he handled his roles. That respect has totally evaporated now as well.

    3. He turned into a Liberty shill now )-8

  22. I think Brawn’s comments are unarguable in a sense – if you looked at the reaction to sprint races in online fan communities, on social media etc, you wouldn’t expect the F1 viewing public to be narrowly in favour of sprint races. In some ways it is good to cut through the “noise” and echo chambers and get some solid, sensible data to understand opinions more fully.

    But I think this masks the fact that a six-point “net positive” for sprint races is not a very good result, actually. It strongly suggests that the format has failed to overturn pre-conceived views – hardly a ringing endorsement for Liberty’s proposal that we “try out” the sprint format on an experimental basis and that everyone would love it after a couple of events.

    Brawn’s choice of phrase that long-term fans have “not been convinced yet” is telling; dismissing the possibility that a good proportion of those fans have indeed been “convinced” that it’s a bad idea. But maybe they just need six or seven more sprint races to change their minds.

    1. @red-andy Well…six more sprint races next year that will be different from how they have been done this year, so then opinions may change. Not for some of course, but perhaps for many.

    2. @red-andy Liberty Media have been playing a little fast and loose with the figures to get that claimed six-point “net positive” figure for sprint races.

      The figures that have been quoted are 40% having a positive opinion and 34% having a negative opinion, with the remaining 26% giving a neutral opinion (i.e. that it wasn’t a net positive or a net negative). As you can see, when you look more closely at the actual figures, it’s still only a minority of the fan base thinks the change has been a net positive and that six-point “net positive” figure only exists if the “neutral” fans are excluded – which is questionable to say the least.

      1. No it’s still 6pt net positive if you include or exclude the neutrals.
        That’s how statistics work ;)

  23. The best message those ‘avid fans on social media’ can send F1 is to turn their TV off, cancel their subscriptions and stop attending F1 races.
    Then F1 will need to do something to attract them… Perhaps change F1 to be more like what they want to see?

    1. You’re right, problem is that the avid fan won’t do that because he’s, well, an avid fan. At least that is the estimation Ross Brawn and Liberty are making at the moment.

      1. Bingo.
        ‘Avid fans’ make up a relatively small percentage of total viewership, and the majority of them will likely keep watching anyway.
        And the small number who choose to switch off – well, F1 doesn’t deal in small numbers.

  24. I expected that F1’s senior figures would play with words to promote Sprint races, but this is far more disappointing to hear.

    Fresh new fans are the lifeblood of any sport, but if you lure them with just cheap gimmicks they’ll leave when a competitor dangles a better carrot. F1 cannot sustain short-term gimmicks forever, it’s inherently a complicated, intricate sport that deserves to be treated with more respect than this. If the new casual fans aren’t already aware of this, they will be with time.

    Brawn and co would of course chase the money, that’s to be expected, but to insult the fans like this is ludicrous.

  25. Without those ‘avid’ fans, Ross, you have no fans at all.

    One only has to look at the Doctor Who fan community over the last few years to see what happens when you don’t listen to them.

    1. This. Absolutely this…

  26. I’m an avid fan! Guess I’m not normal…

  27. Oh yes, F1 would be so much better if it weren’t for those pesky ‘avid fans.’

  28. If qualifying was on a Thursday, you would have more fan engagement on a Thursday! Let’s have the races on Tuesday so we can also have more Tuesday engagement.

  29. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    2nd November 2021, 12:54

    Real fans don’t like gimmicks. Who would ever have guessed?

  30. I’m an avid fan and have been since the 80’s and in that time there has been plenty of change to the qualifying format and the technical aspects so avid fans are not turned off by change. What hasn’t changed in all this time is the meritocracy of the sport i.e. the fastest qualifier starts first and the best combination of car and driver on the day, wins the race.

    The Sprint does not fundamentally change this insofar that the fastest qualifier starts first and the best combo wins, but then what? Then you have another race, longer, in the same order? To me, the sprint format is pointless and is mildly interesting for the first couple of laps when the order stabilises. It’s actually worse than the full race as there is no strategy to offset the performance differences so aside from those who qualify out of position, there is little scope for movement.

    I watched the first and was a bit ‘meh’ about it. I watched the start of the second and thought ‘nah’. It’s dull.

    If they spiced it up, I don’t think it would work because then it would be anathema to the principle of F1, fastest first, best wins. Any gimmick like reverse grids would turn me off to the whole show as that’s not what I want to watch. Back in the day, they had an hour for qualifying, 3/4 of which was excruciatingly boring but boy, was the last 15 minutes fun to watch. The Indy 500 has 4 laps to set an aggregate time, one car at a time, that’s Ok to watch but I cant watch F2’s reverse grid races as it is artificial, I couldn’t even watch the touring cars when they did that either.

    I’m going to give next year a go as I am way more interested in the new cars than anything else. I will watch testing and I will watch FP1, 2 and 3 when it’s there, but I likely won’t watch the Sprint races unless they do something different with the points (everyone gets he points of their position and least points wins the sprint championship) and definitely wont watch them if they are artificially doctored.

    There is too much spin put on pretty damning stats by people who should know better. They aren’t very good at it. There should only be tyres spinning in F1.

  31. Alienate your core fans, and make adhoc changes for temporary gains in viewership, is the perfect way to destroy a sport.

    Luckily for the avid motorsport fan there is youtube and plenty of motorsport series to replace F1.

  32. “The avid fans, our real, dedicated fans, have not been convinced yet, they’re indifferent,” he said. “They all watched it, by the way, they didn’t turn off. They were fascinated by [it].

    Yes I watched, I watched because for as sceptical of the concept as I was I was still open to have my mind changed. Also as a long time dedicated fan I didn’t want to miss any bit of track action.

    However I watched Silverstone & didn’t like it, Not just the sprint race itself but the format as a whole & how it changes the flow/feel of the weekend (I went into more detail on how I feel its changed the feel/flow in this comment). I watched Monza & it did nothing but confirm everything I felt after Silverstone.

    And for as hard as it may be i’ve already decided that I won’t be paying any attention to any of the sprints going forward. I just don’t like them so will no longer engage with them. I just wish they weren’t awarding points for the championship.

    Honestly I can see myself no longer been the dedicated fan I am in 2-3 years because I just don’t like the direction things are going & can see skipping the sprints leading to missing other sessions, races & eventually weekends as it will make missing track action feel more normal to me where right now it isn’t.

  33. I think as a old fan i can call myself understanding of F1 and i am not against Sprintraces or for it. But I like to see it so that it has some value for the sport. I know doing nothing is fatal for any sport so change will let the sport live longer or even extend to forever (racing is always in poeple blood)

    My early memory of F1 is being placed in a green sigar with a man speaking in a strange language to me and my uncle translating that person he was very kind. Later i was told who that person was it was Jim Clark and i sat in a Lotus 25 so that is my favorite car. But i start following F1 later in the sixties 1968/1969 myself when i heared that nice person died that year.

    In the more then fifty years I folowed the sport changed a lot and i saw a lots of things changing more for the good but also so failures and those were dropped fast. The only thing i request they will try things think very hard about it change it if needed before releasing to the sport. The current qualfying (Q1-Q3) a lot of people were also against it and now everyone likes it and don’t want to change that :)

    bottom line don’t change things to fast always overthink but keep it for the progression simple.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      2nd November 2021, 20:27

      A good comment, yours. I started watching way after (I was born in 1983) and up to today I can’t handle the current qualifying system. But I understand that people would not stand the 1996-2002 format. People want quicker, up to action- kicks-highs stuff.
      and that’s why I’m not against the sprint something innovation, as to me the “pure sport” qualifying made for us to watch almost every top driver’s lap (not to see them all qualifying simultaneously as if it was a race) was killed in 2002.

  34. “The avid fans, our real, dedicated fans, “But the majority of our ‘normal’ fans

    I obviously get what he means but i’m not sure that was the best way of saying it as i’m not sure suggesting your avid/dedicated fans aren’t normal is a good way of putting it.

    On the sprint race itself. I’m hearing the plan is to have them started in reverse championship order even though they know full well that reverse grids isn’t a concept that is popular even amongst ‘normal’ fans. It’s something Liberty are desperate to push as they think it will do well in the American market. Stefano is apparently not convinced & reluctant to do it but these decisions are coming from above him.

    I believe that to get reverse grids implemented for 2022 they will need unanimous agreement from teams (Which they don’t & likely will never have) but that to push it through for 2023 they would need only a majority of teams which they may already have. However given how strong fan opinion against in the recent survey was & how the strong message was that a majority of fans were not in favour of gimmicks that support may actually be less than it was.

    I also gather that teams have asked that another fan survey is done in a years time before the sprint format becomes a permanent feature as many of them are sceptical that the support is actually there with some having the view that right now the limited fan support it seems to have is more because it’s new rather than because it’s actually a popular thing that is seen to be working. They are concerned that conclusions which are been jumped to too early which are been drawn based off misleading statistics & beliefs.

    1. Oh one final thing.

      If you don’t like the sprints then don’t watch them & don’t engage in the live discussions around them on social media. And as difficult as this may be, Don’t watch Friday qualifying either. That is for now the only thing that those pushing many of these decisions are paying attention to.

      If they start to see a drop in viewing figures & ‘engagement’ they will start listening. Vote with your eyeballs.

      1. @gt-racer Thanks for that. I would not be in favour of reverse grids for the Sprints, and I would hope and expect that they would at least wait until we see the new cars race in anger and then should decide that they do not need reverse grids to invite action.

        I agree with you and have said all along that the best way for those who wish to send a message to F1 to put a stamp on their discontent would be to not watch. I recall what Sam Walton of Walmart said, paraphrasing, ‘The customer is the boss. They can fire us at the drop of a hat.’

      2. @gt-racer exactly right. The only thing they would be concerned with is ticket sales and eyeballs on screens.

        The rearrangement of the schedule has already meant that I missed the Friday “qualifying” sessions in the last two, and I didn’t bother watching the sprint race for Monza after seeing the first one at Silverstone.
        Won’t be watching any of Brazil at all such is my distaste. However I suspect I’m in the minority.

        The downside to this is that even “not watching” is hardly going to show up unless you’re subscribing on a race by race basis. Most broadcasters include F1 as part of a broader subscription, so if fans (for example) watch football on the same service, they’re highly unlikely to unsubscribe. It will take quite some time for any drop specifically in F1 viewership to be recognised.

    2. @gt-racer Yeah I don’t believe he was literally implying dedicated fans are abnormal, hence the inverted commas around ‘normal’.

  35. So Friday is more popular, having Qualifying, than it is with FP? Amazing what you can discover with research! Meanwhile the point, that he totally misses, is that Sunday is eroded by having part of the race moved to Saturday, with its fresh tyres. And next year Sunday will really start in race pace order already, great thinking

  36. I follow F1 since the 90s. I watch a lot of Formula 1 on a race weekend. I also have a regular life so I would like to spend my weekends outdoors if possible. So I mostly give it a miss on Practice sessions if I can fill my regular life. Sprint Qualifying Format brings one more event in the weekend that directly effects the outcome of the weekend hence I want to watch it. But man I can’t be glued to my TV from Friday to Sunday watching F1 to understand the whole important aspects of the weekend. Give me one race or two races in the space of one on Sunday but don’t expect me to watch F1 over a span of 3 days, too much…..

  37. I’ve never heard a positive comment from anyone about this “sprint” experiment, aside from F1/Liberty officials. I’ve heard either negative or cautiously neutral comments from the drivers, team officials etc. There were some hopeful comments too, but I’ve never heard a single person say how great it was to watch, or bring us some more. Then on the other side I see people from the business side of F1 (those who’d like to see more Arabic GPs, 20 races in USA etc.) telling me things like we live in completely different realities. Yes, it absolutely doesn’t matter what I think. Drivers don’t matter, imagine that I do, just one insignificant fan. But don’t try to make fools of people, if you want to lie never make it obvious. Sooner or later that will cost you in life. And never provoke the fans who’re actually financing your salary.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      2nd November 2021, 20:35

      Are they?
      Or, will they be, in the future?

  38. Either you listen to the fans or you don’t.

    But don’t pretend you do if – in reality – you don’t.

  39. yep those avid social media “Fans”, a nice describer.
    Perspective and nuanced is probaly not what you’ll find there.

    And that’s a item for many many many subjects.

  40. That is some serious contempt he has towards fans.

  41. If an “avid” fan like me stop to watch F1 your income will massivly decrease. You’re lucky that F1 is my drug, but I can be able to disintossicate myself with this stupid things

  42. I am curious what’s their next excuse

  43. Of course races are more interesting than practice sessions for newcomers.
    Therefore I propose we make all football clubs to play matches everyday – way more exciting than boring training sessions. We could have the Olympics every month – much better than the athletes taking four years to train.
    The world has gone bonkers.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      2nd November 2021, 20:38

      Football gets 38 Grand Prix per season, plus Domestic Cup, plus Shield Cup, plus SuperCup, plus Continental League A, Continental League B, and now a brand new Continental League C. Aside from World and Continental Nations Cup, they also set up a new third Smaller Continental Nations Cup to replace the friendly matches.

      (And some of them are talking of duplicating the World Nations Cup; and other of creating a Continental SuperLeague, American-style.)

  44. But I thought it was a trial Ross?

  45. Also, I found that if I skip one race it becomes much easier to skip others. You no longer feel that requirement to see them all. For example, I started skipping Yas Marina unless there is a championship on the line because it is a dull race. Having done that once I felt more comfortable skipping a couple of other races if the course is dull and there is no close championship. I wonder how many people on Sundays will go, ‘I would usually watch the GP but I have already skipped the sprint, so I don’t feel so bad about doing something else today’.

  46. I wonder if any leagues of soccer/football have ever considered using a ball that isn’t round. That ought to spice things up and get some new fans!

    1. I’ve heard the FIFA is considering playing the first 30 minutes of a match on Saturday, and the remaining 60 minutes on Sunday. Whoever wins on Saturday, have the initial kickoff on Sunday.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      2nd November 2021, 20:40

      Please note my “Football gets 38 Grand Prix per season” comment above…

  47. This just proves how easily money totally changes a person and their rationale. The problem with it is that it gives championship points to the top three finishers. That only works to further cement any dominance of the top teams.

    If they want to do it, let it be a separate championship, that awards to the top ten, and has nothing to do with qualifying.

  48. I was looking forward to the Sprint sessions this year. But aside from some Alonso heroics, it hasn’t really delivered yet.
    That said, I still think it can be a positive addition to the weekend after they make some changes.

    For now I can only enjoy how upset everybody here is getting whenever Sprint ‘racing’ is mentioned.

  49. I thinks this is going to end like the F2 format thing.

    When they presented it, much people complained and highlighted what was wrong with it. Instead of rethink, or at least say that it would be reviewed for the following year, they tried to convince us that it was for the best. It wasn’t.

  50. I’m in no way against sprint races in concept. I am however, against the current implementation.
    I feel the sprint race should be independent of the Qualifying/Race, and have no bearing on the start positions of a race.
    I feel it should be a “bonus” race with reduced points on offer, the start grid for the sprint could be decided on Championship order reversed grid or if held post qualifying maybe reverse order of the Qualy.

    Friday – P1 and P2
    Saturday – Qualifying (Sets race order), Sprint (Qualy or reverse Qualy order)
    Sunday – GP

    Having Sprint on Sat aftrenoon, gives teams time to sort any damage incurred during Sprint, prior to race on Sun.
    I think that format would still give them the sprint they want without devaluing Qualy. also gives the opportunity to have that reverse grid format that Brawn&Co seemed so desperate to try. Seems like a win/win to me.

  51. The more Ross Brawn speaks the less respect I have for him. I hope he’s getting paid well at least.

  52. Mr Brawn, for an intelligent man “They all watched it, by the way, they didn’t turn off. They were fascinated by [it]” is a dumb thing to say. I watched both sprint events out of curiosity, not fascination. Based on what I say, I doubt that I will watch any more.

  53. Long-time fan here, from about 1991, got interested as I was learning German and the Goethe Institute’s “Jugend” magazines, targeted at learners of German, always features stories about F1.
    Change is not a bad thing, and obviously F1’s “core” fan demographic is getting on a bit, so the sport has to attract new fans in order to stay alive.
    HOWEVER, I get the feeling that it is “too much change and experimentation” is going on. From the double points at Abu Dhabi 2014 to the “elimination qualifying” of 2016, to the point for the fastest lap in the race, to sprint “qualifying” and so on – it just feels like they tinker too much with the sport, risking alienating “true” fans just to attract one or two new ones. A bird in hand being worth two in the bush doesn’t seem to be something they consider.
    I watched one sprint qualifying race, didn’t like it, won’t watch any others.

  54. As long as Timmy Johnson Jr from Nebraska, who doesn’t know what color a Ferrari is, is happy with the sprint race, then Brown and all those fellas from LB are also happy.

  55. Interesting, well if it gets the new and casual fans interested and it’s only a few races a year, then why not?

    Make it a seperate cup, call it the NFT doge$HOP CUP give everyone unlimited fuel flow and special tyres for 10 laps, completely unrelated to the grand prix weekend. That’s a certain way to stop it from ruining the stats of the championship proper.

  56. The sprint races weren’t completely bad. The start and first laps were fine and the interviews at the end were fine too.
    What happened in between was boring, but we can solve that by shortening the sprint race to just one lap.

  57. Well I thought they have been great so far, hope they keep it up and do more.
    I’m not British and don’t follow Hamilton or Merc.
    I have been watching F1 for about 20 years.

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