‘Let’s give it a go’ – Team principals voice support for 2021 sprint race proposal ahead of further talks
A number of F1’s Team Principals have voiced their support of the proposal to introduce a handful of sprint qualifying races into the sport in 2021, with Red Bull’s Christian Horner telling the media at Bahrain pre-season testing that it would could create an “interesting spectacle” for Formula 1.
With F1 seeking ways to shake up the weekend format, new President and CEO Stefano Domenicali was open about the fact that he was keen to try out the sprint race concept at certain venues in 2021 – which would see a short race on Saturday to decide the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
And with the topic having been brought up with the teams at 2021 pre-season testing in Bahrain, Horner said he’d been encouraged by what he’d seen so far.
“There's always a million reasons not to do something, but I think the concept's interesting,” he said. “I think the way they’re looking at introducing it is reasonably responsible over three events, so why don't we try it? Let's give it a go.
“There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes with the team managers and the sporting directors to ensure the right regulations are in place for it,” Horner added. “Hopefully it will be an interesting spectacle. But if it's what the promoters want to do, we're happy to support.”
Horner’s opposite number at Mercedes, Toto Wolff, also supported the idea of a trial in principle, adding that he’d seen the benefits of introducing Saturday races in Germany’s DTM series.
“I think speaking for our team and hearing the opinions, we are probably more on the purist side,” said Wolff. “We appreciate the 70-year-old history of [having the] Grand Prix on a Sunday. But I would agree that one thing is for sure: by having a little race on Saturday, we will have a large increase in audiences. I've seen it in DTM and Touring Cars, that we were almost able to double the TV audiences with the second race.
“I think we should give it a go and then be really honest to ourselves: what was the financial impact, and impact on the eyeballs, that we were able to generate? What was the show factor? And as Christian said, there's many pros and cons. I think if we all stick our heads together, we can find a solution that is of mutual benefit. Formula 1 is what we do all together and we need to entertain the people.”
Meanwhile, McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl said that there was currently a “good proposal on the table” for sprint races – with Seidl adding that he was keen to hammer out final details before Bahrain pre-season testing draws to a close.
“We're very supportive to give it a go, as long as it doesn't change artificially the pecking order in Formula 1 – which the current proposal doesn't do,” said Seidl. “I think there have been some good meetings, together with FIA and Formula 1 in the last weeks to define the details, because the devil is always in the details.
“But I think we have a good proposal now on the table, and I think we will come to a final conclusion this weekend, and then it's down to Formula 1.”