–by Mark Cipolloni–
Formula 1 teams have apparently approved CEO Stefano Domenicali’s plan to spice up the ‘sprint’ race weekend format.
It emerged in Australia that the sport’s Italian chief wanted to replace a practice session with a second qualifying session.
“Of course the drivers need time to practice,” Domenicali told Sky Deutschland. “But the people in the stands come to see power and performance.
“The more often you give the teams and drivers the chance to show who they are, the better the show is.
“Together with the drivers and teams, we are thinking about what could be the best plan for that,” the F1 CEO added.
Pending official ratification of the change by the FIA, Friday’s qualifying session will now set the race for the grand prix on Sunday, with the outcome of the sprint having no bearing on how a driver starts the main race.
The top eight finishers in a sprint race will receive points (handed out 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1), which is approximately 1/3 of what the drivers will get for the feature race.
Sprint Race Weekend Format
Session 1: Practice
Session 2: Qualifying for Sunday Race
Session 3: Sprint Race Qualifying
Session 4: Sprint Race
Session 5: Main event – Grand Prix
What will be key is when Parc Ferme rules will be imposed that lock down the cars from further adjustments.
The reason Max Verstappen was so opposed to this change is because he feels three practice sessions are needed to really dial the cars in.
If the cars are put into Parc Ferme lockdown after only one Friday morning practice session, any team who gets the setup wrong off the trailer, will now have limited time to make changes to fix it. They will essentially be ‘screwed’ the entire weekend.
So, we see Verstappen’s point of view. However, if Parc Ferme rules are not implemented until just before the Sprint Race, then there will be three sessions for the teams to adjust the car.
In my opinion, the decision on when Parc Ferme lockdown will occur will be key.
“For once I think all the teams were aligned — it’s not very often that it’s the case so we have to jump on it,” Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur told reporters. “The format is more dynamic, and you can discuss doing it so late [before the race] but at the end of the day I think if we’re all aligned then we have to push for it.
“I like the format. I’m not a big fan of the usual FP2, sometimes it’s a bit boring — not for us because we have a lot of data — but I can imagine for the spectators and even for you if you don’t know about the level of fuel, the engine mode and so on it’s probably a bit boring, and to try to have something more dynamic during the weekend is a good decision.”