The sprint in Formula 1 was hated, but it was a success. But the weekend format needs to be thought out and changed

In Formula 1 on July 17, the first ever sprint took place – a short race of only 17 laps. Rather, the sprint qualification – according to the results of the mini-race, the holder of pole position and position on the starting grid of the main Sunday race of Silverstone was determined.

Sprint is a delicate matter in any sport. Its sudden introduction or, in principle, the emergence of a shortened race / match format for the sake of entertainment is even more painstaking work. Innovations are perceived with hostility primarily by oldfag fans.

“What sprints and 100 meters are you stunned ?! – shout outraged veterans of cross-country skiing, who found Gundé Svan and the appearance of a skating course. “Give us a point-to-point cut-up marathon!” “What does parallel slalom mean ?!” – fans of alpine skiing menacingly echo. “How are the sets to win four games? – prowled tennis fans are indignant. – We want to watch matches for five hours! These are traditions! “

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Everything rests on tradition, and F-1 is no exception. Fans fought over the sprint for several months, and the discussions became even more intense for the British Grand Prix. But the first sprint of the three planned for the season took place – and there are still advantages. But the weekend format will have to be significantly improved.

Sprint qualification start at Silverstone

Фото: Getty Images

What did you manage?

Due to the strange schedule of the stage, fans of “F1” were afraid that the pilots would line up one after another and finish the race with the positions with which they started – McLaren racer Lando Norris spoke in this spirit. This is not without logic: the place at the start of the main race, where you can earn points, depends on the sprint, and therefore taking risks, flying out and getting out of the back rows on Sunday is not what the teams want.

But sport is sport, and race is race – some did not protect themselves from accidents and unwittingly increased the entertainment for the audience. George Russell squeezed Carlos Sainz off the track on the first lap – the Ferrari driver had to break through from long positions to an acceptable 11th place, and the Williams’ racing driver received a three-position penalty on Sunday.

“I think I was the victim of a mistake on the part of George Russell. He tampered with my car, which is why I ended up rolling to the last place, – commented Sines. – After that, I really enjoyed the race, because I managed to break back, making a lot of overtaking and showing a strong pace.

What do I think about the format? I would have liked it if I started from the last positions, but for some of the other people who rode in front, the race was a little more boring. I was not at all bored. At the same time, from the side of us, the riders, I can only say that the fans should judge the format. After all, the format is intended to entertain the fans, not us. I hope they enjoyed it. “

Dvizukhi was added by the co-pilot of “Red Bull” Sergio Perez – he was severely turned around, he rolled to the last place, but practically could not make overtaking due to damage to the car. By the decision of the team, he finished the race ahead of schedule and will start from the pit lane so that the mechanics will finalize the car.

Also, the diversity made the permission to start on any tires: there were no usual restrictions on the second qualification segment for the top 10. The softest kits were unexpectedly chosen by the Alpin pilots, Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen from Alfa Romeo, and Fernando Alonso’s fight became one of the plots in the middle of the peloton. The award-winning Spaniard eventually broke six places, although by the end of the race the red tires were still worn out.

What are the disadvantages?

The strange format of the weekend as a whole was not understood by either the fans or the pilots. On Friday, the teams had only one free practice to target the qualification and tune in for a fast lap, and after that, the closed park mode began – following the results of the second training session on Saturday morning, it was impossible to radically change the settings for the sprint qualification.

“It turns out strange: you play in qualifying, and then nothing can be changed in the car. Then comes the second training session, and then the qualifying race. And I think: so can one give up the second practice if it makes no sense? ” – argued the leader of the championship Max Verstappen, who later won the sprint from second place, powerfully passing Lewis Hamilton at the start.

Max Verstappen

Фото: Getty Images

This also raises a question for fans of statistics: how to keep track of pole positions, if technically the owner is considered to be the one who won the sprint, and not the Friday qualifier? What to do with almost a century of history? The F-1 leadership promised to think over this issue.

“We need to consider whether the terminology should be changed. Should pole be determined on Friday? We will discuss this issue with the FIA ​​and the teams. But history should not be a deterrent, although it must be respected, ”said sports director Ross Brown.

The fast sprint shows that the cost of making a mistake is incredibly high – it introduces unpredictability and attractiveness in terms of broadcasting. A short race can really attract a new wave of fans to F1: staying at the screen for 30 minutes is easier than two hours. There are no obligatory pit stops and tactical games in the sprint, and the task is one – to step on the gas and reach the finish line as quickly as possible. What you need to get started – and then you can figure out the intricacies.

But the directorate of the “royal races” should definitely finish the format – for example, to unhook the sprint from the usual combination of qualifications in a fast lap and race, and to come up with something else to determine the starting positions in a short race. Maybe an option with a reversible grille for the top 10. It is also worth giving more points for a sprint than from three to one top three. And then the sprints will definitely take root in the conservative world of “F1”.

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