Wolff confirms talks for Sprint format overhaul

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that talks are now underway between Formula 1’s chefs and the teams to address wholesale changes to the sport’s Sprint format.

Since its introduction at the British Grand Prix in 2021, the Sprint schedule has received a mixed bag of reviews from teams and drivers.

However, Formula 1 persisted with the format in 2022 and then implemented several tweaks for this season which included six Sprint events, with the final round taking place this weekend in Sao Paulo.

Among the changes that are under consideration is the possibility of conducting the sprint race qualifying session – or shootout – on Friday, thereby enabling the sprint race to occur on Saturday morning, followed by the Grand Prix qualifying session later in the day as is the case on normal race weekends.

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The change was discussed at a meeting of Formula 1’s Sporting Advisory Committee meeting this week.

"That's correct,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1 in Sao Paulo. "We've been talking with Stefano [Domenicali – F1 CEO]

“It is his decision but then you can correlate it easier... you do the Sprint Shootout and then the second qualifying for the race, which would be Saturday at two o'clock, which is the time we know.

"It would maybe create less confusion."

Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough says F1’s job along with the teams is to preserve the concept but simplify the format.

“The sprint event was brought in for a reason: the fans. From a technical point of view, it’s a headache. The car goes into parc ferme after one practice session and it is difficult,” said the Aston engineer.

“But from a commercial side and from a fan side, I think there are elements that are exciting. It needs tweaking. It’s been tweaked already, I think it needs tweaking a bit more.

“Even my dad, who’s quite an ‘understander’ and follower of Formula 1 sometimes says to me ‘just remind me is it qualifying on Friday for the main race?’ I think if somebody at that level is having questions, the fans are going to get confused.

“So our job is to put a simpler, better, more understandable format, still have the excitement of two races.”

Wolff agreed that keeping qualifying in its usual Saturday afternoon slot would go a long way towards making things less confusing.

But Ferrari sporting director Diego Ioverno noted that moving the Sprint race to Saturday morning could lead to some dodgy situations for teams that encounter issues in the 30-minute mad dash.

“If we move the sprint race on Saturday morning, then you have to make sure that you allow enough gap to teams to react before quali in case of problems and stuff like that,” he said.

“There are also other options on the table. But we will work all together because at the end this is our target to make it as good as possible for our fans.”

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