Formula 1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn says Sprint Qualifying is being trialled in F1 this year to provide more competitive action on more days of a race weekend.
Proposals to hold sprint races on the Saturday of three grands prix are close to being finalized, with the team bosses meeting with F1 in Bahrain on Saturday evening to discuss the plans in more detail ahead of a vote before the first race. Brawn says the idea is to ensure there is meaningful track action on a Friday rather than the current format two practice sessions that don’t have a competitive aspect, with the sprint race to be known as Sprint Qualifying.
“We want to fill out the weekend,” Brawn said. “The critical thing is to preserve the grand prix. We want the winner of the grand prix to come away from those weekends still being the strongest and most successful competitor of that weekend. But we want to fill out the weekend and we want to give the fans something more substantial to look at and follow on a Friday, something interesting on a Saturday.
“So as well as the Sprint Qualifying we’re going to have the normal qualifying on a Friday. You qualify for your position in the Sprint Qualifying and the Sprint Qualifying will take you forward to the race. So really, we have a much fuller weekend and that’s what we want to explore.
“I think we want this opportunity to try it at three races this year. If it doesn’t work then we’ll put our hands up and we’ll go away and we’ll think about it again. But I’m quite optimistic about it. I think if you take the view of the whole weekend then it’s got a lot going for it.”
Brawn was speaking towards the end of the second day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, and says it’s exciting for F1 to get its season started as he envisages an improving situation for the sport as the year progresses.
“It was great to get it rolling again. We are obviously still facing similar challenges to last year. We’ve got all the protocols in place with COVID but certainly it looks to be an exciting season — new drivers, new teams, so I am really looking forward to it.
“I think what we were able to demonstrate last year is that we were able to manage the situation. Obviously, we’ve got to be prepared to look at all the changes and nuances that come from it. I think we convinced ourselves that we could manage it safely and that was critical for us to carry on. We’re pretty optimistic of a full season this year; we don’t know, there could be some twists and turns. I think we’ve come through the worst in my opinion and it’s all upwards from here.”