Brawn still unsure what “optimum number” of sprint races is for F1

2022 F1 season

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The number of sprint races on the Formula 1 calendar will double to six next year but the series’ outgoing managing director of motorsports admits he remains unsure what the ideal number should be.

Ross Brawn is retiring from F1 this off-season, bringing to an end a career of over four decades in the sport. He spent the last five years working with Formula One Management after its takeover by Liberty Media and has introduced major changes to the sporting side of Formula 1 in that time, including the budget cap and sprint races.

Three sprint races were scheduled during each of the last two seasons. The format will expand to cover six of the 24 rounds on the 2023 F1 calendar.

Brawn told the official F1 website he isn’t sure how many sprint races F1 should hold in a season. “The sprint was an initiative which seems to have worked,” Brawn said. “We’re expanding to six sprints next year.

“I don’t know what will be the optimum number we will settle at long-term. Some argue we should have it at every race. We’ll see if that is how it evolves. The sprint has certainly livened up the whole weekend and gives us a full three days of action.”

Sprint races have been criticised by some fans and drivers. World champion Max Verstappen has been vocal about his dislike of the format, arguing that the balance of risk and reward means drivers will naturally err on the side of caution during sprint races. The controversial format has since been adopted by the motorcycle world championship Moto GP, which will run sprint races following qualifying at all of its rounds next season.

Brawn believes Formula 1 should recognise the areas of the sport that are strong and make sure not to risk changing them too much, such as the traditional three-stage qualifying format.

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“On the sporting regulations, we’ve had an open mind about how we should develop the race weekend format,” Brawn said. “There are already a lot of good things in F1.

“I happen to think the current qualifying spec is pretty good. Three-stage qualifying keeps people engaged for the whole time. It’s exciting and it occasionally throws up a few variables.

“We also have a group of people who now focus on trying to make the tracks as interesting as possible, so we don’t get tracks where we can’t race properly. Every existing track has been assessed and we have an input into all new tracks to ensure great racing.”

Having been heavily involved in the designing of the new technical regulations for the 2022 season, Brawn says he is satisfied that the new ground effect cars achieved the goal of allowing drivers to run closer to rivals than before.

“It was a huge thrill for me when I saw the 2022 cars first race and we experienced two or three cars racing alongside each other – we hadn’t often seen that before,” he said. “Now you can run hard behind another car for several laps without issues.”

Brawn believes that now is the right time for him to step down and allow others to prepare for the next major change to the power unit formula planned for 2026.

“Now is the right time for me to retire,” he said. “We have done the bulk of the work, and we are in a consolidation period now. There’s a new car coming in 2026, but that’s four years away, quite distant for me, so it’s better the next group of people take on that mantle. I believe I’m leaving F1 in a great place.

“I will now watch F1 from my sofa, cheering and cursing as an F1 fan, pleased that the sport is in a fantastic place and has such a fantastic future.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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46 comments on “Brawn still unsure what “optimum number” of sprint races is for F1”

  1. 24 multiplied by 0.

    1. Yep. It’s a shame how corrupted by money Brawn and Domincali have exposed themselves to be.

      I thought they were true motorsport people. Turns out they’re greedy careerists.

      1. Yeah, it became quite clear right away didn’t it? Like with FIFA and likewise organisations. To get into these positions takes quite some effort. Therefore it also requires a certain personality from the individual aspiring such positions. I still hope in the future this will change (as newer generations will go about their business in an alternative way) but as long as old skool guys in the old boys network determine who gets these positions we can expect it to be filled by exactly such men. And a journalist falling for their PR narratives will sometimes set us on the wrong foot thinking we actually got a likeable character that cares about something other than his own status or wallet. It is a lie though as we know most journalists aren’t exactly the smartest people around, get mislead and then on top of that also color the story themselves nowadays.

    2. Still too high a number

      1. Sounds about right. We should target -25 sprint races to make sure any next idea to implement them needs to consume the negative budget.

      2. totally agree. Sprint is a word that should be deleted from dictionary. Totally pathetic how they continue to call it a success while nobody likes it

        1. It is their definition of success which differs from ours. They can sell the format to a sponsor, make more money than they did before, hence it is a success (in their eyes, since it contributes to their objectives and definition of success)

  2. The magic number is zero.

    Utter garbage!

  3. After careful analysis of recent sprint races with current technological and financial restrictions I’d say the ‘optimum number’ would be zero. Also, the ‘optimum number’ of Grands Prix per season is 20. Anything more decreases the individual race worthiness to something less than ‘Grand’.

    I really enjoy F1 and the thrill of each GP weekend, but I also value occasional free weekends to do something else than watch motorsports. On top of having too many races already, sprint races add to that and they tend to disrupt the buildup of the Grand Prix weekend in a way that the main race sort of loses the special moment factor for me.

    1. 100% agree. There are already too many race weekends even without sprints.

  4. Zero!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




  5. The same number of these that I watched this year. Zero. I wish ole’ Ross would get back to figuring out how to make it possible for the cars to pass each other without DRS. I guess he filled his pockets enough as it says he is the “outgoing” managing director. On second thought there has never been enough money in the world for this guy. Onward and upward.

  6. I think 10 is about right. Love me some sprint!

    1. I think 10 is about right

      Heretic. The gods of the True GP will make you burn, or at least be a bit uncomfortable.

      The True Number of allowed sprints is zero.

    2. In this format it’s very bad so for me i can without it. To get sprints accepted by the hardcore fans they must come-up with something shocking good.

  7. Ross Brawn is a legend of F1 & has done so much for the sport in his long career however he really doesn’t understand the fans with his statement about how the Sprints have been a success.

    Someone should show him this comments section for example.

    I agree the magic number of Sprint Races is Zero

    1. I feel this comment section maybe representing 1% of their viewers though. It can certainly be called the somewhat more hardcore people, albeit in recent years it also has been cluttered with quite a number of opportunist as well, catching on the hype train of their local man and his decade long dominant car. Maybe the new drive to survive audience loves the Sprint format.

  8. Sprint races have been a terrible idea. I don’t want to see any in a season. I’m sure most of the drivers hate them as well.

  9. I hope they tweak sprint race weekends. Two options: A) Scrap Saturday FP2 as it is pointless and no parc fermé after the Sprint. Or B) No parc fermé after Sprint and FP2 on a Sunday. Maybe a shortened session like warmups back in the day. No parc fermé after Sprint would mean that teams could tweak their setups and make GPs a bit less predictable after a Sprint.

  10. How long are the Moto GP sprints? The normal race isn’t that long as it is!

  11. From the sporting point of view the magic number for me is zero. From the financial point of view the magic number shouldn’t be more than 3.

    Besides the fact that (again, for me) sprints do not add value to the racing, it’s really annoying that it’s still not decidied how to handle this session properly which is reflected in its confused naming. Is it part of the qualification as a quasi Q4, so is it a “sprint-qualifying”? Is it an early part of the race which then gets red-flagged for 24 hours, so is it a “sprint-race”? Or is it a standalone entity, a “sprint”?

    I think this causes the trouble with the statistics as well. Should Interlagos have been Magnussen’s pole or Russell’s pole? As far I’m concerned it was Russell’s, but as it was officially Magnussen’s, it pretty much denied Russell of a hat trick, as he had the race win and the fastest lap as well.

    1. Well, in normal circumstances he wouldn’t have been on pole, so don’t think there’s a claim for a hat trick, in the sense friday session should’ve been saturday.

    2. As @esploratore1 rightly points out – without the sprint, it would actually have been Magnussen starting the sunday race from pole @andrewt.

      Russel only got to get ahead of him because the sprint meant Magnussen felt back there. So really you should be mad about Magnussen being robbed of a “real” pole position. It would also have meant that Russel actually probably wouldn’t have led all laps, it took a few in the sprint as well before he got past Kevin.

      1. @esploratore1 @bascb: thank you both for responding. Actually both Magnussen and Russell have been robbed to some degree because of that sprint. I’m just not a fan of this kind of inconsistency and lack of logic. And also not a fan of sprint…

        1. Yeah, I am with you on that @andrewt!

  12. From an extreme to another, what about an infinite number of sprint races? Neverending championship!

    Obviously also am not a fan of them, not sure if they should be 0 but often they turn out to be boring, brazil was nice.

  13. Ross Brawn has done much good in F1 in teams, and mostly good in F1 management.

    But, sprints should stop, please.

  14. What we need is a system where a sprint race doesn’t seem so weird any more:
    Friday: PRE-QUALI + SPRINT (100km in length)
    Satuday: QUALI + HALF SPRINT (200km)

    You get additional points for finishing a sprint/race higher than the previous sprint-race (progression points).
    You get bonus points for finishing:
    – 2 of the races at the same position (aka PAIR)
    – all 3 races at the same position (aka FLUSH)
    – all 3 races on the podium (aka FULL HOUSE)
    – winning all 3 races (aka ROYAL FLUSH)

  15. F1: Sprint races, sounds like a great idea. Let’s canvass the fans…

    Fans: NOOOOOOO!!!

    F1: OK, maybe a trial. Then we’ll see what you think.

    Fans: NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    F1: More Sprints!!!

  16. Ross Brawn is a great guy, but his stint at Liberty has been awful for his legacy. It’s unfortunate. Some of the things he’s said might have sounded good when scripted by a PR person, but the problem is that pretty much everyone knows Brawn is far too smart to believe any of it.

    “I’m leaving F1 in a great place”, he says after we’ve just had one guy win more races in a single season than ever before and even the thoroughly redesigned cars still need Mario Kart features like DRS to be able to pass. Brawn knows better than that.

  17. Zero, as they are now.

    Or… maybe three or four, with a different format. The idea could be salvaged into something more broadly acceptable (probably making sprint races entirely stand-alone), but even a better version should be very limited.

  18. Let them sprint at Miami, Abu Dhabi, Sochi, Valencia, Dubai, Silverstone and the like
    Keep sprints away from Monza, Spa, Interlagos, Suzuka, Laguna Seca, die Nordschleife…

  19. Translation:
    “How many sprint races can we get away with before fans leave?”.

  20. Like DRS, sprints were only brought in to try to spice up a weekend. Now that the cars can actually race closely, like DRS, there is no need for these extra gimmicks.

    Bring back nimble, loud, dramatic F1 cars (early 2000s is a good baseline) and I think fans would be perfectly happy with the Saturday qualifying show again. Making them too quiet, too fat and too heavy has made many forget just what a spectacle that used to be.

    1. this nostalgia for the early 2000s never fails to amuse me. No one liked these cars back when they were around. all the talk back in the day was about the Power and spectacle of the turbos, the narrow track was considered an absolute abomination, grooved tyres were the worst thing to happen since ww2, the racing was bad and Ferrari and Schumacher not only won everything, but also in really uncool style (Ross ‘nice bloke’ Brawn ordering barrichello back, protesting Michelin,…)

  21. You would think that such an intelligent man can easily come to the nr 0

  22. I appear to be a minority opinion here, but I don’t mind the sprint races. I wouldn’t have them for every race, and definitely not any of the “classic” rounds, though.

    As an Aussie, most Grands Prix start at an unsociable hour on Sunday evening or Monday morning. Sprint races give me something to watch on either Saturday night or at my leisure on Sunday. Those in European time zones don’t appreciate how fortunate they are.

    I don’t find the qualifying format to be particularly entertaining. For the most part, all they show is a bunch of cars crossing the start/finish line, while the commentators talk about how someone is setting purple sectors (which isn’t shown until said car rounds the final corner). I would like qualifying to have the following changes: get rid of the break between Q1 and Q2 (the clock starts ticking on Q2 as soon as Q1 has ended), change it so that the lap has to be completed by the deadline (rather than started, as it causes everyone to adopt the same strategy), introduce a one-lap shootout for the top ten in Q3 so you can see every corner of ten qualifying laps.

    1. I am also not against sprint races but rather see them go than have them at all the weekends. Three is fine and for me it’s no more than a restart on Sunday after an artificial red flag on Saturday.
      On qualy I dont agree with you. We have seen the one lap shootout in the past and it’s usually a big advantage to have the last lap on track due to the track evolution conditions. I would like to see more laps in Q3. So maybe have a qualification divided in Q1 and Q2 based on practice times like MotoGP. More time in qualifying would help to see more pole laps and less problems being caught out with trafic and might help to eliminate crash manipulation in f.e.Monaco

  23. Come on Ross, you used to be a good bloke, well respected by the fans! But you have let us down now, you should know better!

    “Brawn still unsure what “optimum number” of sprint races is for F1”

    Undecided? Just look at the overwhelming tone of the comments here, show some backbone, make sure Liberty get the message, remember when it was a sport.
    Zero mate that’s the number!
    You will start loosing fans fast if you do not listen.

    1. Undecided? Just look at the overwhelming tone of the comments here

      A bunch of rusted-on diehards who go looking for F1 websites to oppose change on?
      F1’s viewing figures and financial situation has far more bearing on their decision – and rightfully so.
      Nobody is going to like everything about F1, after all – but you can always watch less of it.

      BTW, there’s nothing about a sprint race that makes it any less of a sport than it already is.
      It’s just a different way to run a competition, and there’s still plenty of incentive to win it. If that doesn’t describe a sporting activity, what does?
      Personally, I think there are many far more unsporting aspects of F1 than the length, format or quantity of competitive sessions – starting with everything that has a financial aspect involved….

  24. I am surprised there was no big farewell or goodbye for Ross. He certainly was a key figure in the LM set up

    1. I was thinking the same, @thedoctor03.

      @keithcollantine, get that fishing trip lined up with Ross. His retirement begs for a RaceFans Exclusive!

  25. The optimum number is null. Pls stop.

  26. I think all races should be sprint races but they should bump the distance from 100 to 300 km.

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