Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool
After another monotonous sprint race at the United States Grand Prix, and with drivers complaining about the point of even doing these sprint events, the lights-to-flag procession has caused Formula 1 management to finally rethink the format of sprint weekends, as reported by Motorsport.com.
Post-sprint, the newly crowned triple World Champion Max Verstappen said that the sprint race now takes away the unknown and suspense on a Sunday morning of how cars will perform in race trim.
“Love it. It’s fantastic,” Verstappen sarcastically stated about the sprint format.
“If you want my honest opinion about the sprint weekends, I don’t really get excited by it.
“I just feel like once you complete qualifying, you’re a bit lost. I feel like we only need one qualifying in the weekend where you really put everything on the line and it feels great.
This is now resonated with the fans as many not bothering to tune in, and they’re now viewing the sprint as a worthless race.
We only need to think about Oscar Piastri’s great sprint win last time out in Qatar, with the Aussie himself admitting while it was nice to win, it’s a Grand Prix win he is still searching for.
While F1 bosses are still committed to keeping sprint races as part of the new Formula 1 format at selected races, a shake-up is on the cards to try and make them more interesting.
One of the suggestions has been to turn sprint Saturdays into a separate standalone championship, so points earned on a Saturday will not be counted for the main championship.
However again similar to Piastri’s win, could this ‘different championship’ become something not seen as important to the main championship?
Another idea being floated around is a cash prize for winners that would be paid for by a ‘Sprint Sponsor” and prize money reaching close to the seven figure mark.
A more radical way of formatting the grid positions would be to have reverse grids, either from championship position or from that weekend’s qualifying position. The latter would surely create a buzz around the paddock.
However with usually the same few drivers sitting at the back of the championship, we’d end up with the same few on pole position all year.
Think back to 2021 and we would potentially have the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin on the front row for most of the sprint races barring accidents from other drivers. The contra argument for this is with 15 laps to keep the field behind, would this make for an exciting watch?
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff felt this reverse grid idea is not what F1 should be looking at.
“I’m conservative in racing. I’d rather have no sprint races that if you start to meddle. Even more with reverse grid races, we are going towards junior formulae where sport follows entertainment, while entertainment should follow sport,” said Wolff.
“Creating artificial gaming around the sprint race on a Saturday is not the way that I would favour personally. But that’s my opinion. All teams together with Stefano, we just need to think about what is best.”
Finally the question must be asked, why do we feel the need to try something that doesn’t work for ‘excitement’? Do we really need a new format for Grand Prix weekends?