Domenicali hails 'great feedback' on sprint races

Formula 1's new CEO Stefano Domenicali says that there is broad support among F1 teams and drivers for trying out a new sprint race format this season.

While final details of the proposal are yet to be confirmed and will need the approval of the F1 Commission, it looks likely that qualifying sprint races will take place at three rounds during 2021.

"The idea that we have shared - and I think has received great feedback from everyone in the sport - is that we will try to figure out something that will give us a qualifying on Friday, [then] Saturday a sprint race that will determine the grid order for the Sunday race.

"That will give us the thrill of a great weekend that will be beneficial to all the parties involved," Domenicali told those taking part in a Liberty Media investor call this week.

“This is something that we are debating with the teams and the FIA in the next weeks, in order to present the final format before the start of the season in Bahrain.

“Our objective is to try to offer to the people that are coming to the event, to the people that are watching television, to the people that are really fan of Formula 1, something that is exciting."

Domenicali's old team has already come out in support of the plan. “We are obviously very engaged in the discussions with F1 and the FIA," said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto.

"I think we are practical in discussions," he said. "The discussion, at least for the moment, seems to be promising for a good outcome, but still I think we need to look at all the details. Details will make a difference in this respect.

“We believe that making changes for more spectacle and eventually for unpredictable races will be great," he added. "We support a change because that change will somehow achieve those goals and objectives."

Charles Leclerc agreed with his boss that sprint races deserved a trial. “I think it should be tried at least, then we need to understand how all of this will work with the points, etc."

His new team mate Carlos Sainz took a similar line. “It is one of those things that until you get a first go at it you will never know exactly how it goes.

“If there is a year that we should try it I think it is 2021," he acknowledged. "It is a good opportunity to try these kinds of things and see how it goes. Let’s see.”

However he also had some reservations. "I personally think it is super-important that the main race, the Grand Prix, doesn’t lose value.

"It is a bit dangerous that sometimes there can be two winners out of a Grand Prix weekend, and we need to make sure that there is only one winner if we are going to do a double race.

Not everyone is so enthusiastic, with Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez noticeably cooler.

“I just think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t lose the DNA of Formula 1,” Perez told “I think it's a very thin line. It's a bit risky. [But] I’m open to it.

“I don't think we need to really mix it up that much," added Verstappen. "If we have good cars that we can race closely, and more teams are able to fight for victory, you don't need sprint races."

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Andrew Lewin

Andrew first became a fan of Formula 1 during the time when Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill were stepping into the limelight after the era of Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Aryton Senna. He's been addicted ever since, and has been writing about the sport now for nearly a quarter of a century for a number of online news sites. He's also written professionally about GP2 (now Formula 2), GP3, IndyCar, World Rally Championship, MotoGP and NASCAR. In his other professional life, Andrew is a freelance writer, social media consultant, web developer/programmer, and digital specialist in the fields of accessibility, usability, IA, online communities and public sector procurement. He worked for many years in magazine production at Bauer Media, and for over a decade he was part of the digital media team at the UK government's communications department. Born and raised in Essex, Andrew currently lives and works in south-west London.

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