Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2021

Sprint format gave Hamilton “real chance” after penalty – Brawn

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn described the Sao Paulo sprint qualifying race as the best so far and said the format has improved Lewis Hamilton’s chances of a strong result following his qualifying penalty.

Hamilton lost his pole position for the short Saturday race when he was disqualified from Friday’s qualifying session due to a technical infringement. The Mercedes driver started last yesterday, but climbed to fifth place.

That means even though he has a five-place grid penalty for the grand prix due to exceeding his engine allocation, Hamilton will still start the race from the middle of the field instead of the back.

Brawn said Hamilton’s climb through the field was the highlight of the third and final sprint qualifying event being run this year.

“This sprint was the best one so far with plenty of action and a great crowd to witness it all,” he said. “The drama off the track created something fixating on it, with Lewis overtaking car after car.

“Without the sprint he would be at the back for the grid for tomorrow’s race but instead he has a real chance tomorrow stating from 10th.”

Valtteri Bottas won the sprint qualifying race after passing Max Verstappen, who inherited pole position from Hamilton, at the start. The Mercedes driver opted for softer tyres than his rival and made a quicker getaway.

“The freedom of choice for tyres, one of the rules for the sprint, also played a big part today with Bottas and Sainz using the softs to get away quickly and change the top three at the end and for the start of the race tomorrow,” Brawn acknowledged.

F1 intends to hold six sprint events next year, though the regulations are expected to be revised before then to address several criticisms of the format.

“We think the foundations are very strong for the sprint and will be presenting more details of our plans for six events in 2022 in the coming weeks in discussions with the FIA and the teams,” said Brawn.

“There are things we need to tweak but Brazil showed the sprint is a great addition to the weekend and has made Friday, Saturday and Sunday big moments that are exciting for all of us.”

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2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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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
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52 comments on “Sprint format gave Hamilton “real chance” after penalty – Brawn”

  1. I used to like Ross Brawn.

    1. Same. I liked the book “Total Competition”.

      It’s a shame.

    2. Various comments here after Hamilton’s penalty was announced predicted that FOM/Liberty would come out with this exact statement. They were unsurprisingly correct, as Brawn & co. have long since decided that this is how all F1 races will be in the coming years.

  2. The desire to use any random circumstance to justify their (and, supposedly, mine) love for sprints is hilarious.

    We had a car that was dsq’d from quali, and it overtook a lot of cars – thanks sprint race!

    We have weird tyre rules in place, but we made them not apply for the sprint and it turned out well – aren’t sprint races great?!

    I mean… I’m much less passionate in my dislike of sprint races than I initially was (mostly due to my pathetic guarding of the things old), and I actually enjoyed one yesterday, but what’s left of my resentment now is mostly rooted in being treated like an idiot day in day out by Brawn, Domenicaly and co.

    1. Annoying, isn’t it @minilemm. It really shows they are looking to find the problem their solution (the sprint thing) is “solving”.

  3. So did DRS and an enormous straight

    1. That helped for sure, and so did 8 out of 10 teams being uncompetitive. Only Sainz and Pérez had any motivation to block Hamilton, the rest just let him cruise by. Viewers can’t blame the drivers for that, it’s what this format produces.

  4. Apart from Lewis, there was little overtaking by anyone else. Most other overtakes were at the start where the soft tyres gave a better launch compared to the mediums. It was only because Lewis was out of position in a faster car that he was able to overtake.
    If everyone starts in qualifying order then sprint races will be a procession. It worries me that Formula1 and its people like Ross Brawn just ignore this fact and are keen to expand sprint races next year and beyond. It’s more than a tweak needed to make them exciting.

    1. Yeah, it sort of says they need either reversed (but then will we have a few faster guys carving through w. DRS?) or random grid for the sprint. Which would probably be okay, as much as sprints will ever really be okay, if it was totally decoupled from the actual race.

  5. Says it like it’s a good thing.

    A disqualification in quali *should* result in starting from the back.

    1. except quali doesnt determine the grid on this race weekend so it shouldn’t

      i don’t like it either, but if Hamilton didn’t run at all on Friday, would he have also started at the back of the grid on Sunday? not under the current rules, whether we like them or not they apply to everyone

      if Hamilton hadn’t set a time on Friday he wouldn’t have started last on Sunday, so why should he start from the back if he had been disqualified on Friday?

    2. And a grid penalty for causing an accident shouldn’t be negated by taking loads of new parts and starting from the back of the grid at the next race. But it is.

  6. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    14th November 2021, 8:57

    Pretty sick of hearing from him. This isn’t a positive. Format is awful…

    1. I agree. But they’ve clearly made up their minds (while looking at their revenue streams) about it.

    2. Completely agree, pretty sick of hearing Brawn telling us how great the format is.

  7. So he’s diminishing his own organisation’s rules? Good thing our stupid regulations didn’t bother him too much!

  8. “The freedom of choice for tyres, one of the rules for the sprint, also played a big part today with Bottas and Sainz using the softs to get away quickly and change the top three at the end and for the start of the race tomorrow,” Brawn acknowledged.

    I, and many others, have been calling for freedom of choice for tyres for years, although admittedly this is mainly because the alternative of the Q2 tyre rule is so terrible. The free tyre choice is probably the thing I’ve most enjoyed about the sprint, particularly this weekend when there was a proper mix, but that just makes me think it needs to be admitted into the main Grand Prix, rather than have a separate race just for this.

    The sprint yesterday was decent, but a lot of this was down to the random factor of Hamilton starting from the back. And the excitement at the front is no different to what would have happened anyway if that was the start of a normal Grand Prix. I still think it slightly devalues the Grand Prix, and significantly devalues the excitement of qualifying, so I am still opposed to the format. And I still think that most sprints will be processional, even if the odd one isn’t.

    If they could make a sprint championship that had no bearing on the actual Grand Prix, then I think reversed grids and even spec cars could be included, and that would work, as long as decent prize money was awarded as an incentive for the teams to go for it. This way it is effectively a new series around the normal Grand Prix, which would still be the pinnacle of motorsport.

    1. Hear hear! Free tyre choice in every race, for everyone, please.

  9. Brown, explain this. Why would Norris fight Hamilton in this fake-race of yours? Why would anyone in fact? No one defends, mostly no one even attacks… But Norris had nothing to gain by defending, while Hamilton had a starting position to gain by overtaking. Is that kind of situation normal?

  10. How strange to highlight this. If anything the Sprint proved to dilute the championship once more, basically voiding a penalty. I understand from his ex Mercedes status, but it is not smart to be that transparent about it given his new role.

  11. “Without the sprint he would be at the back for the grid for tomorrow’s race but instead he has a real chance tomorrow stating from 10th.” With this sentence you are underrating today’s race, something that you always said would not happened: I’m a Lewis fan, but if he deserves to start 20, should not start 10 because of Sprint, in other circuit without he would start 20, and that is a gimmick. Shut up Ross, every time you spoke you say stupid things

    1. Fully agree. If anything the format has proven to dilute the Sunday race. Not that it matters whether Lewis starts 10th or 20th anyway. The first car not to get out of his way will be Perez and a matter of time. Podium guaranteed for Lewis. Would be incredibly surprised if he doesn’t end up on the podium. And probably more luck to come for Lewis the upcoming races. He is one of the greats don’t get me wrong but this decade has just been very bad reflecting on the sport. Kudos for Mercedes, I mean it is not simple to build such an incredible car year after year. It does dilute results of drivers in the past though.

  12. Well Lando for one will not defend this weekend when Lewis is behind. He learnt that it just destroys the tyres and he needs to get in front of a Ferrari or two.

    So that just means 8 more to cooperate and Lewis can win this! :)

    1. It makes sense thought. Why postpone the inevitable and running risk to interfere with the championship? These guys have their own worries and are racing their own race. Their fight is in the constructors and is pivotal for their teams. Keeping Lewis behind is contra productive for anyones objectives. The first to fight Lewis will be Perez. All others will open the door. Why wouldn’t they? So a podium is pretty much guaranteed for Lewis. Depending on where Max is vs Bottas he might even be 2nd. Bottas couldn’t do the same in that car. Just as Perez couldn’t but Max can. So, there is credit to give to Lewis as well, sure. But he is one lucky Man once again. This championship should have been over already. 9 wins out of 18 races with 2 DNFs for Max, one caused by his competitor. And another poor result (I believe it was 9th) also because of Mercedes. It is one of Lewis’ most lucky seasons. And he wasn’t exactly shy of them before.

  13. Remove Hamilton and there is absolutely nothing in this sprint race.

  14. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    14th November 2021, 10:08

    It also means penalties are no longer consistent and a set penalty on a sprint race weekend is less of a punishment than a normal race weekend.

    1. Depending on when an infringement is detected.

      1. Yes, you can go full in during the session leading up to the Sprint. I am sure Ferrari paid lots of attention. As well as Alonso :-)

  15. The Sprint might be useful in new markets with dull tracks and casual fans seeking to see the same action they get in a Basketball game for example (Miami GP, Saudi Arabia, Qatar…) . For the “avid fans” qualifying and especially on historical tracks remains one of the few enjoyable moments of the weekend regardless of its outcome.

    I don’t really like Max’s cocky behaviour and you can call me a Hamilton detractor but I really enjoy both of them pushing their cars to the absolute limit in qualifying and get almost impossible last minutes poles like Hungary 2019, Singapore 2018, Silverstone 2016 (fastest car but snatched it from Rosberg in his last attempt). On the other hand, I don’t really enjoyed yesterday’s Sprint where Hamilton was cruising into the field in Saturn V.

    Liberty are desperately trying to get the attention of “Free Fire” like fans and get a piece of the action. Maybe they are looking only for numbers in order to sell what will look like a healthy business. Though by doing so they are risking to distort the nature of the sport and those casual fans will switch easily to something else like they did with “Rayman: Jungle Run” or “Angry Birds”.

    1. totally agree with you

  16. What kind of marketing is this.
    The sprint format created his problem in the first place as the teams had less time to prepare their cars.
    Mercedes would have detected the problem by FP3 and sorted it out.
    The sprint format is a farce that shouldn’t be forced down people’s throats.

    1. In fact, it almost make cheating pay off.
      I dont know if this case was deliberate, but if a full disqualification only means losing 3-5 positions, then it is worth the risk

  17. Its interesting that most criticism I hear around here regarding the Sprint format is emotional rather than rational. Its really odd how people have an emotional response to change, which cloudy their perception of the facts.
    Ross is spot on here. Sprint adds another strategic dimension to the weekend, at the cost of a loss of a practice session, which is no loss at all actually.
    Fans get more racing track time, another race start that’s always exciting, teams have to deal with another strategic element. If it had been a straight forward weekend, we wouldn’t have Sainz and Bottas in at the front which causes an interesting situation. At the very least Verstappen will have to take some risk to pass Bottas at the start to avoid getting stuck behind him. Same with Perez. And we got to see a come from behind, spirited 24 laps from Lewis yesterday as well. All in all, really good. And, once again, at the cost of a practice session. Its ok if you don’t like something, but at least give some rationale as to why it’s bad, rather than simply an emotional response.
    Don’t listen Ross, keep the Sprint format and look forward to more next season.

    1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

      but at least give some rationale as to why it’s bad

      For me it’s not so much about the sprint race itself but more how it changes the flow/feel of the weekend & how having the sprint affects the other sessions. Additionally I don’t like how some race weekends with the sprint award more points & therefore become more valuable than the rest as well as introducing the potential for a championship to be won on a Saturday.

      I went into these 3 sprint experiments sceptical but I was open to been won over by them, But that didn’t happen & if anything I dislike the format more having seen it play out because again I just don’t like the way it changes the flow/feel of the weekend overall.

      I’ll post a link to a comment I made after Monza which goes into more detail.
      https://www.racefans.net/2021/10/04/f1-has-only-worked-out-one-thing-about-sprint-qualifying-it-wants-more/#comment-4720716

      And one I made on Friday thats related.
      https://www.racefans.net/2021/11/12/hamilton-leads-verstappen-only-practice-session-before-qualifying/#comment-4741548

  18. Um… so effectively circumventing penalties due to breaches of the technical regulations is a positive thing…? That’s a creative justification! Any other weekend Lewis would be starting the actual race at the back.

  19. Ross Brawn just doesnt get it (or maybe he does and its all PR speak for Liberty).

    Yes, the Sprint Race was good. It was good because Hamilton was fighting from the back.

    But that could have been 26 (or how every many it was) exciting laps of the Grand Prix… and due to having a sprint, Lewis starts 11th (could have even been 5th) and we lose some of that excitement from the Grand Prix.

    Yes, this Sprint was good, but it takes away massively from the Grand Prix, and that is why its not good for the sport.

    1. Yes @ajayrious, it essentially proves the argument many of us have been making from the very start – any “randomness” that arises from qualifying is erased by the sprint race as drivers shuffle back into their “natural” positions. We’ve seen it the other way round as well, like Russell’s great qualifying at Silverstone being worth very little as he dropped back in the sprint race.

  20. All I hear from Ross is how great the sprint is, but you can’t rely on a driver being dsq or out of position for the sprint every time and reverse grids are artificial.

    While this was the most action in a sprint so far, I’m still not a fan and prefer the old format.

  21. Brawn is a smart man he’s shown that previously. But his continued flogging of this terrible idea and not telling the truth about the direction Liberty are taking F1 in, has undermined his legacy.

    1. He appears to be more money driven than passion driven, resulting in him not biting the hand that feeds him

      1. Maybe being in charge of F1 is a tough job.
        I mean, you have opposition from everywhere: teams, drivers, venues.
        And you are so powerful that your closer circle inside the organization might tend not to critisize you.
        So, you not only have to remain attached to your opinions/decisions, but you trust very few people to tell your ideas/statements are dumb/wrong.

  22. I knew beforehand that the Hamilton charge is going to be an argument for sprints… Hamilton would have done the same in the actual race, now we are half stolen from it. ó

  23. Says a lot that the only real excitement we’ve seen from the sprints all year has come from a front running driver starting at the back. Inevitably we’re edging closer to reverse grid races.

    To be honest, if the sprints become independent from the rest of the GP weekend I wouldn’t mind reverse grid races. If the sprints were on a Friday evening and then Saturday and Sunday proceeded as normal, F1 might have something. I could see Friday Night F1 being a hit during the summer months, especially when most other major sports leagues are on their off-season.

  24. I can tell how this suggestion will go down given the emotional distaste for sprint in general.

    I think yesterday points the way forward.

    We should do qualifying on Friday. Use those placings for a full reverse grid for a sprint race.

    The grid for Sundays race is set as the average of the two placings, with the sprint placings taking precedence if there is a tie.

    Drivers disqualified from Friday qualifying Place 20 on the Friday and start from the back on Saturday.

    Everyone has something to drive for on both Friday and Saturday

  25. Qualifying and the full race should be sacred. What gives them the cheek to think they can play about with a formula that has survived successfully and grown the sport over decades.

    Imagine the outcry if football had a penalty shootout or a five a side match to determine the starting goals before the full match. Its no different!

  26. And that’s better than a normal GP because… ?

  27. I am still not won over at all by these sprint races. I always enjoy watching F1 whether it’s Practice, Quali or the GP, but this is still leaving me cold. Yeah, it was fascinating watching Lewis carve through the field but I couldn’t get as excited by it because I knew it wasn’t the real race. It dilutes the excitement of all the other sessions, because qualifying no longer has a direct knock on effect on the race, and the sprint race just feels like an opening stint of a Grand Prix.
    I miss the slow build of a grand Prix weekend, it shouldn’t have to be “action action action” all day every day because it makes each bit of action less important in the grand scheme of things.

    It feels like opening half your Christmas presents a day early as a kid, it’s nice to get them but it feels much more special and exciting to get them all at once.

  28. Surely if a driver is disqualified from qualifying they should be precluded from participating in this farce of a sprint qualifying and be forced to start the RACE from the back of the grid like they would if they were disqualified from any other qualifying session.

    This smacks of a PR exercise designed to justify how wonderful Ross’s super duper maximum dollar crypto funny money amazing just ask me sprint farce is.

    Imagine they outcry there will be if for some reason next race Max’s car was found to have a similar issue requiring a mandatory DQ in qualifying and had to start at the back instead of some made up position.

    1. I agree. It pretty absurd what happened this weekend

  29. I didn’t watch the sprint yesterday so can’t talk to how it played it out but what I can say is that what the sprint has done is taken action out of the GP because on a normal weekend Hamilton been disqualified from qualifying & been put to the back would have given us his full fight through the field in the GP. But with the sprint format that is 24 laps of Hamilton moving forward which has been taken away from the main race which I don’t see as a positive.

    Him also having a 5 place grid penalty for the engine change brings some of that back but even so this weekend the sprint has done exactly what I was concerned it would, Taken action away from the GP which just devalues the GP.

  30. In the sprintrace LH ended 20 sec behind MV. So he need about 10 to 15 sec to close that gap in 2/3 of the race. Let’s wait.

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