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Horner: Fan feedback on F1 Sprint revamp ‘crucial’

Christian Horner says Formula 1 must sound out its fan base on how it should overhaul its Sprint race format, an initiative that would also ensure that subsequent changes are enduring.

F1’s Sprint events have fallen short of both the fans and F1’s expectations in terms of the level of entertainment they provide.

The Saturday afternoon race is also often viewed as precursor to the Grand Prix proper – a dress rehearsal of sorts that takes away from Sunday an element of surprise and anticipation.

In Thursday’s meeting in Abu Dhabi of the F1 Commission, team bosses concurred that the current format requires change, with potential solutions ranging from scheduling modifications to the introduction of reverse grids among other ideas.

Would the Red Bull team boss support a dramatic reverse grid concept? Horner thinks the idea should submitted to the fans’ vote.

“This is where you’ve got to do the research,” Horner replied. “I think it’s very important the next step that we make is one that is fixed for a long period of time.

“The sprint concept is a new concept that’s been introduced and in some areas is very popular and to some traditionalists is very unpopular.

“Whatever it evolves to needs to be consistent for a long period of time.

“I think that fan feedback is going to play a crucial role in this, in terms of what is it actually that the audience want? Do they actually enjoy the sprint format as it is, or do they want to see a bit more racing?

“If we’re going to do [reversed grid], then how are we going to do the points? How do we incentivise drivers and teams?

“There’s many topics attached to it, but the most important fundamental thing is, what do the fans want?”

McLaren F1 team principal Andrea Stella is in favour of small steps and “incremental” changes, but the Italian also suggests that F1 should act based on a larger subset of events.

“There are positives from the sprint event that are confirmed even from the [TV audience] data that F1 circulated,” Stella explained.

“We also need to give the time to absorb some different ways of interpreting Formula 1 race weekends.

“We need to make sure that we don’t change too often, too rapidly because then we wouldn’t have this time to adapt, absorb to a certain way.

“Improvements have to be made; they should be relatively incremental.

“A few more sprint races, then we can have better data, better information in which direction the business of Formula 1 should go.”

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Michael Delaney

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