During the last weekend at Monza, F1 staged its second (after Silverstone) spring race, where the 100km event set the grid for Sunday. Ross Brawn, the F1 managing director of motorsports revealed that they are considering changing that format for next season, while Scuderia Ferrari said they were interested in the possibility of having a reverse grid races.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes F1 Team Principal expressed his opposition to the idea of reverse grid races, and remained unsure about the sprint races, by saying that they “don’t bring any benefits to the teams”.
Later this year Brazil is set to most likely host another sprint race, with the possibility of this format being brought forward into the 2022 season. Wolff believes that F1 needs to remember about their responsibility towards the fans, and that they should shy away from making any dramatic changes just to “spice up” the weekends.
As he said in an interview: “We've resisted experiments in the past because they were too controversial and mainly also against what the sport stands for, and that's real racing. We’ve got great personalities now, it's broadcast in the right way, and people know that it's a meritocracy: the best man and best machine wins. You can see, this year, there's just more cars that are really competitive and a really good fight at the top.
“So, whatever conclusion we take, altogether, the teams, the FIA, FOM and the F1 Commission, whether we discontinue or continue, we need to do it with a fine tooth comb.
“I don't think this is the regulations we should try [to hit] with a baseball bat. We have too much responsibility for our sport to just freestyle with the regulatory changes.
“If Brazil proves to be an exciting race, then maybe there will be appetite to continue.
“But some of the suggestions that have come up are just confused.”
Wolff suggested that in his opinion, what would work better, is a regular, traditional F1 weekend with one less practice session. He motivated his answer by saying: “Start Friday afternoon with FP1, do a Saturday morning FP2, do a conventional qualifying like we do, and a fantastic grand prix on Sunday.
“Maybe you want to do some warm-up Sunday morning, to add a little bit more spectacle for the people.
“In any case, I would just shorten the free practice sessions so there's more variability in the results, but keep the rest like it is.”
The discussions around the sprint race format are never stopping. To most, it seems like an attempt to fix something that hasn’t been broken in the first place, while F1 covers themselves up by saying they’re trying to “attract more fans (especially younger) to the sport”. Unfortunately, it most likely has an opposite effect, because most fans and many teams as well have been very critical of the format. Do you think its worth of an idea to keep it? Or should we just go back and find other ways to attract younger audiences to F1?