Second qualifying session would improve F1’s sprint race weekends – Steiner

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In the round-up: Haas team principal Guenther Steiner proposes a new schedule for F1’s sprint race weekends.

In brief

Steiner suggests revising sprint race weekends

Following Formula 1’s decision to increase the number of sprint races next year from three to six, Steiner proposed a change to how the weekends are structured. At present Friday’s qualifying session sets the grid for Saturday’s sprint race, which in turns decides the starting order for the grand prix.

“What I’d like even more is having qualifying for the sprint on Friday and qualifying for the main race on Saturday morning, as the free practice currently isn’t very meaningful for anyone,” said Steiner. “Then on Saturday afternoon you have the sprint, followed by the main event on Sunday.”

Steiner believes the new format, which has been used six times since it was introduced last year, is an improvement on the whole.

“This year in Austria we scored points in both the sprint and in the main race so for sure, I liked that,” said the Haas team principal.

“It’s a race like any other but it’s shorter and with eight drivers rather than 10 scoring points. I’m in favour of more sprints as it makes the overall race weekend interesting by having qualifying on Friday.”

McLaren moves Formula E team to Bicester

McLaren’s Formula E team won’t run from its Technology Centre
McLaren’s new Formula E squad will not be based out of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking alongside the rest of the brand’s operations, but instead from a unit at the Bicester Heritage site.

The former RAF base has become the base of several motorsport companies in recent years, utilising small buildings and hangars that have been operational since World War Two.

McLaren will race in FE for the first time next year, as the series introduces its new, ‘Gen3’ car design.

“It’s an exciting time for the team and the sport,” said Ian James, the managing director of McLaren’s FE team.

“We are embarking on a new chapter, as part of the McLaren Racing family. Basing ourselves at the unique location of Bicester Heritage, we have the advantage of being surrounded by people who are as passionate about motorsport as we are.”

Mark Blundell protege to race in British F4

Kanato Le, a protege of former McLaren Formula 1 driver Mark Blundell, will race for Hitech GP in British Formula 4 next year.

The Japanese teenager spent 2022 racing in the Ginetta Junior championship, where Lando Norris started his car racing career, and won two races. In karting he won the 2021 IAME Euro Series and came second in the IAME Winter Cup for X30 Junior karts.

Recently he has tested with multiple teams in F4, before deciding on signing with Hitech for a campaign that will begin on the support bill of this month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and then incorporate the British and United Arab Emirates F4 series in 2023.

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Comment of the day

Rising costs across the globe is going to put pressure on F1 in multiple areas, from supply chains to maintaining staff numbers and of course attracting customers. Once ticket sales start to drop, it could put the F1 calendar at risk with circuits unable to cover the costs of hosting a grand prix.

But F1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali believes being a world championship will be an advantage when it comes to such problems.

Being global doesn’t help in and of itself but being associated with authoritarian regimes who don’t care about the costs associated with sportswashing will help insulate F1’s bottom line. But is that healthy for the sport in the long term?

Venues that rely on ticket sales to continue are going to struggle in the next few years as attendance will inevitably drop unless prices drop as well. Either way, the tracks will not make as much money which means less chance to pay the hosting fee, et cetera.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to George, Adrian Hancox and Cristofer Lima!

On this day in motorsport

  • Born today in 1973: Future McLaren and Lotus team principal Eric Boullier

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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13 comments on “Second qualifying session would improve F1’s sprint race weekends – Steiner”

  1. COD. Sportswashing dirties F1 as it cleans the filthy.
    Currently there are enough punters around seemingly happy to ignore anything for their own gratification but continued exposure still shifts that wilfully ignorant line in the sand (noting a quantum shift for Russia last year).
    The stupendous amounts that regimes like SA are happy to dump on things like LIV and F1 keep the big vested interests fully supplicant and complicit but that laundered cash not filtering down to promoters elsewhere does indeed see treasured classic venues at risk for races in carparks. Can’t see a change to that dynamic any time soon.

  2. If they can link the London-based lawyers who hired the hackers to another F1 team, that will be bigger than SpyGate.

    1. It is embarrassing to be caught out by phishing attacks, it just had to be Otmar.

  3. The biggest problem I have with the sprints is that they set the grid for the main race. It just makes it high-risk, low reward for many drivers. The general nature of sprinting is to go as fast as possible, but making the result of the sprint so important to the weekend kind of defeats this.

    I don’t see why they don’t just copy F2’s format. Qualifying sets the grid for the Grand Prix, and the grid is then partially reversed for the sprint. It’s not perfect, but it’d be a considerable improvement on the current format.

  4. What Steiner is proposing is, in fact, to have two-race weekends, GP2-style.

    The truth is that it would seem to me a more logical format than the current one (when there is a sprint), but I think that with 24 weekends (and increasing) the number of races is too many for a single championship. There is a risk that it may be decided 8 or 9 weekends before the end.

  5. I appreciate the direction Steiner is going, but there’s no need for a second qualifying session — you could just set the sprint race grid based on the second-fastest times a driver sets in qualifying. This forces everyone to get in two clean runs, making the “banker” runs actually meaningful. It also gives you the potential for a mixed-up sprint grid by punishing actual mistakes, not some arbitrary reverse-grid rule.

    That doesn’t solve making FP2 on Saturday morning meaningful, but you could do that simply by eliminating post-qualifying parc ferme. There’s no need to prevent teams from overspending on qualification specials when the entire formula is budget capped.

    1. @markzastrow I think I like the idea that the second fastest time is the sprint qualifying time, makes a lot of sense and will at least shuffle the pack a bit without the somewhat ‘artificial’ top 8 F2 system.

      My only worry is once again is it going to make F1 even more complicated to the casual viewer? I’m not saying F1 shouldn’t pander to the stupidest, and anyone with any real interest will pick it up eventually. But if you were to sit someone down who knew nothing about F1 today, explaining it all, with penalty points, sprint races, component allocations, who has what tyres available, grid penalties etc. It’s all a lot more complicated than it was when we all started watching.

      I still can’t figure out Baseball, and I think that would be considered simpler than F1 is today.

      1. @bernasaurus True, it would add a layer of complexity, and I strongly dislike many of the other complexifiers that you mention.

        I would argue though that, like many other aspects of the sport, this would be a wrinkle that can be ignored by casual viewers who just want to revel in the spectacle. F1 is, of course, an enormously complicated sport to begin with, and that doesn’t seem to have hurt its popularity.

        Personally, I don’t mind variables that add strategic depth to the sport, like tyre compounds. What I don’t like are things like grid penalties and added time penalties that actually undermine the reality of the running order that you see with your own eyes.

        Using the second-fastest laps for the sprint grid at least wouldn’t change the fact that at any given point in the qualifying session, the driver with the fastest time is on provisional pole for the grand prix — which for me, should be the focal point of the weekend.

  6. Having no sprint race at all would add to the Sprint weekend!

    1. I just sigh when I realise its going to be a ‘sprint weekend’. They’re just pretty dull, the reward on offer doesn’t justify any risk, there’s no point in any build up, or any build up would be longer than the session itself. It’s more akin to a fast parade than a ‘sprint’.

  7. Many thanks for the birthday shout out @keithcollantine

  8. If Gunther does not want the sprint race result to set the grid for the proper race, then there is no point to having it at all. (Apart from satisfying those with ADHD who are interested only in the winner as soon as possible and not the race itself. They should go and watch Drag racing instead!)

    The sprint race is against the ethos of the GP. The GP race is over a distance or time limit sufficient to test the endurance and skill of the drivers, the tactics of the teams and the durability of the cars and equipment in conditions which change dramatically and evolve over the race distance.
    The sprint merely adds risk and wear to the cars and obviously detracts from the life of components. Teams and/or drivers with a good stake in the championships would need to consider the risks and may decide that it is not worth pushing, but merely cruising is the best strategy in order to preserve the car for the proper race. That is what will happen if the sprint does not set the GP starting grid.
    The power of the sprint is in the setting of the grid for the proper race, for the teams it is just more expense, more wear, more stress, in general, a pain in the backside.

  9. I like Gunther’s suggestion.

    Interesting that hackers also managed to break into two F1 person’s emails, but this must’ve happened last year or before, given the article notes Otmar as AM chief executive in the past tense.

    The F3 Twitter account should use something harder, like a funny press conference moment.

    The Macau GP race control comparison is good & demonstrates how motorsport has evolved over time.

    What COTD envisions for the next few years will likely indeed happen at the present rate.

Comments are closed.