Symonds convinced F1 sprints are 'races that people like'

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Formula 1's chief technical officer Pat Symonds has defended the sport's sprint format weekends, insisting they inject unpredictability into events and allow to have a competition on every day.

After testing the innovative sprint format in 2021 and 2022 at three rounds, Formula 1 confirmed last month that this year's 23-race schedule will include six sprint weekends.

Baku in Azerbaijan in April will kick off the series of 30-minute sprints and will be followed by short races at Spielberg in Austria, Spa in Belgium, Losail in Qatar, COTA in Austin and Interlagos in Brazil.

Several drivers, like reigning world champion Max Verstappen remain unconvinced by the concept, but there's no denying that the format has instilled a dose of uncertainty into the race weekend, as Kevin Magnussen's shock pole for Haas in Brazil aptly demonstrated.

"There are those who like it and there are those who dislike it," Symonds said, quoted by website GPFans. "But to me, what we do is we have a competition.

"What I like about a competition is when it’s not predictable. Oxford were playing Arsenal in the FA Cup the other week and they were holding them 0-0 to half time and that sort of thing is great.

"With a normal grand prix weekend, Friday does not provide any competition and therefore, what’s the attraction of it? We’re here to compete.

"In addition, the teams are so good with their simulation these days, having all the time on Friday, they’re got two hours of running to fine-tune the car, make sure that everything’s good, and what that leads to is predictability."

Symonds argues that F1's sprint format boosts and upholds the fans' attention from Friday to Sunday.

"What the sprint does is it allows us to have a competition on every day – because on Friday we’ve got qualifying, on Saturday we’ve got a sprint race and on Sunday, we’ve got a Grand Prix," added the Briton.

"In my view, it does it without the sideshow taking away from the main event and I think that’s important because a grand prix is what it’s all about.

"And by reducing the amount of time the teams have got to hone their cars, by putting in another error-generator in the sprint race, we have the chance to have a little bit of a more mixed up race.

"Those are the races that the people like."

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