‘We feel it’s going to be very exciting’ says Brawn, as Sprint Qualifying plans get the green light
Selected Formula 1 Grand Prix weekends will take on a revised look in 2021, with the addition of a second race – Sprint Qualifying – however F1’s Managing Director, Motorsports Ross Brawn says the new shorter event is not intended to “cannibalise’ the weekend’s main spectacle – Sunday’s Grand Prix…
At three races this year, the exact venues to be announced in due course, F1’s traditional qualifying session will move to Friday, with a 100km race taking its place on the schedule on Saturday. This fast-paced spectacle will define the grid for Sunday’s race, the format of which will remain the same.
The aim is to create a “Grand Slam” feel for the weekends which feature a Sprint Qualifying race and boost the spectacle for fans and promoters alike.
“The thing to remember about Sprint Qualifying is that it’s intention is to expand the whole weekend,” said Brawn. “It is not intended to impact the race event. The Grand Prix is still the vital event of the weekend.
“We want to give fans engagement throughout the whole weekend. Sunday’s Grand Prix is fantastic, and we don’t want to cannibalise that, but we want to lift up the engagement on a Friday and a Saturday.
“Friday is really for the aficionados at the moment. Watching practice session on Friday is fun but there is no conclusion to it. But on a Friday now [at these selected events], we’ll have the excitement of the qualifying format.”
“I think it will be a great addition. There is unlikely to be pit stops, so it’ll be a clean race. It’ll be 30 mins roughly, 100km of action.
“We want to see how fans engage with it and if the short format is appealing, it’s complimentary and if it works with the main race. We feel it will. We feel it’s going to be very exciting.”
While teams agreed with F1 and the FIA that 2021 represented a good opportunity to try new things before the revolutionary new regulations come in next year, they had some reservations and that’s why it has taken some time to get sign-off for the new format.
“[One of the challenges was] finding a format that had the right balance between giving us an opportunity to have exciting Friday and Saturday running – perhaps a shorter format race but one which did not take anything away from main event.
“We had to find that balance. Everyone had a different opinion on what that should look like. It was also about finding an economic and logistical solution that didn’t impact teams too severely.
“They want this event, but they are all working under massive challenges and we had to find a solution that worked with them without compromising the event.
“The drivers are open minded about the format - and that’s all we ask, that the drivers keep an open mind so we can evaluate this event and then we decide if in the future it forms a feature of the F1 season. If it doesn’t work, we put hands up and we will think again.”