Saturday sprint races have been the topic of conversation for some weeks now as the new season fast approached.
Stefano Domenicali has been very vocal this year so far about aspects of the usual race weekend that need to be shaken up for more entertainment.
The idea of introducing this new format on a Saturday continues to have mixed reactions among drivers and fans alike, but it seems current F1 team bosses are pretty on-board with the potential shake-up.
Speaking at the team’s 2021 season launch, Mattia Binotto gave his thoughts on Saturday qualifying sessions being replaced by sprint races to determine the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
He said; “We are very engaged in discussions with F1 and the FIA. We believe that changing for more spectacular and, eventually, for unpredictable races, will be great… that change [to include sprint races] will somehow achieve the goals and the objective I mentioned.
“Discussions are ongoing, but at the moment it seems to be promising for a good output, but still I think we need to look at all the details – details will make the difference in that respect. Teamwork has to continue and hopefully, we will find a good solution.”
McLaren chief executive Zak Brown spoke to Sky Sports and said he believes the ongoing talks around bringing in sprint-race trials in F1 in 2021 should be seen as a positive step for the sport.
“Everyone is in favour of the concept of trying something new.
“It’s looking like we’ll maybe do it at two or three races this year.
“What’s important is that it’s an equal playing field in the sense of no reverse grids or anything artificial, but then we do something different so it differentiates itself from Sunday’s race. The working group is inputting into that.
“I’m encouraged. Anytime you have something new you try it. If it works you keep doing it, if it doesn’t you either change it up or you don’t do it anymore.
“I think it’s only a positive for the sport.”
Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff said he’s interested in seeing how the concept would work for qualifying.
“It always needs to be balanced with the true DNA of the sport.
“Sprint races are an interesting format and an experiment that I believe we need to do.
“In some championships, the audience has almost doubled with action on Saturday and Sunday.
“If we were to do this without some interference to create a fake show it has merit to try. We would be up for it.”
Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner, spoke with Auto Motor und Sport and said teams shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting with the idea.
He said; “It would be easy for us to reject everything. But if you never try anything, you never know if it works. We shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting. If it doesn’t bring the success we want, we can always back off.
“DNA is important,” added Horner. “Wimbledon is still played on grass and the tennis players wear white shorts and white shirts. But we also have to evolve.
“Formula 1 is entertainment. Sports fans have a lot of choices.
“You have to capture them somehow and the best way to do that is with close and open races where the driver makes the difference.”
Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski believes that the sprint races will bring about even more excitement throughout the weekend.
He said; “Sprint races or whatever they’re going to be called, ‘super qualifying’, it’s excitement over three days, really. You’re going to qualify on Friday, we’re going to race on Saturday and race again on Sunday.
“We’re going to go a lot less prepared for qualifying. For the fans, whether at the circuit or at home, it is three days of excitement.
“So let’s try a new format. It’s a great opportunity to see if that’s something we want to carry over into next season.”