Introducing a new race system for a Grand Prix weekend a few days before the teams start is probably not the smartest way to plan. Have all the elements involved been well thought out?
You can hope so.
The changes are as follows: Session FP1 will remain unchanged. Instead of FP2, there will be a full qualifying session, with the usual sessions of Q1, Q2 and Q3. The race will run as normal on Sunday.
But Saturday will be completely different with Sprint Qualifying instead of FP2, with SQ1, SQ2 and SQ3 sessions that will be shorter than regular qualifying and tire choice will be imposed, with SQ1 and SQ2 with medium tires and SQ3 with soft rubber.
This will set the grid for the Sprint race starting in the afternoon. The points will be the same as before, but the result of the sprint will not affect the main race, so if the drivers collide on Saturday, they will keep their original grid positions on Sunday, unless the car is beyond repair.
Basically it’s quite simple. The goal is to give fans at the races more exciting things to watch and try to look up their TVs every weekend which will raise (and that’s the big word) money.
There are several questions that will need to be answered. If someone wins a Sprint race, they are considered the winner of the F1 race. For traditionalists who respect the statistics of the sport, you can imagine that this means nothing, but it is conceivable that some drivers will claim that they are F1 race winners if they win a sprint race, and this will distort all statistics and undermine all records that have been established over the last 73 years. If a driver wins 16 Sprint races and 12 real Grands Prix, he will no doubt claim to have more F1 wins than Jackie Stewart, even if everyone in the know understands that he is not in the big leagues. This is obviously an esoteric argument, and as we know, money drives everything in this sport.
Some may argue that the sport is on a slippery slope to be driven solely by commercial interests, and this is hard to deny. Does it matter? Well, some of us believe that old drivers deserve to be remembered and respected for what they have achieved, but the truth is that the statistics of the sport have long been skewed by the increasing number of races. But at least we know that every winner deserves that status. In the future, it could be argued that the winners of a sprint race are only half-winners… but that too is fraught with difficulties. Jochen Mass won the shortened Spanish Grand Prix in 1975, but no one ever called him a semi-winner. He was always a half-point winner.
The second problem is much more pragmatic. Street racing is usually quite destructive because there are things drivers can hit. So, is it a good idea to organize two street races to kick off a new idea, and then another event a week later without a large runoff surface. Teams with drivers who tend to crash into things can struggle to keep up and supplies can run out, which is a problem in times of budget constraints.
They voted for her anyway, so they’ll have to figure out what to do.
We’ll see if it makes the sport more interesting, but at least in a Sprint race there won’t be drivers worried about taking risks for fear of jeopardizing entire weekends.
The cynic in me says that probably means Max Verstappen will win a lot more races (or semi-races) this year… If winning most races is considered boring by some fans, what will they think of someone who has won twice as much as before .
Will it be twice as boring?