Formula 1: Sprint format could become standard approach to grand prix weekend

Red Bull's Max Vertappen won sprint qualifying in the British Grand Prix of July
Ross Brawn, managing director of Formula 1, believes that Formula 1's new "sprint" format could become the standard approach for grand prix weekends in the future.

Brawn stated that F1 wants to "take progressive rather than radical" steps with the format.

He said that there was no reason why a one-third-distance race, in addition to qualifying and grand prix, could not be used in future events.

It's open. It could develop that way. But if it does it will be because it is the best thing to have done," Brawn stated.

F1 has agreed in principle with teams and the governing body, the FIA, to increase the number'sprint' events next year to six. They are currently evaluating how to change the format to reflect the lessons learned from this year's race, as previously reported BBC Sport.

Brawn stated that they are carefully going through each step step-by-step and can then decide whether to increase the number.

"I don’t think we should be afraid to do that because it would be a measure for the success of sprint. If that is the way we want to go, then it is the right approach.

"We may also conclude that it adds interest to our season by having it as a showcase."

He stated that no decision will be made until we reach that point and can measure the results.

What is a "sprint" event?

In an effort to increase entertainment value, the'sprint format' was introduced at three grand prix this season.

It qualifies for Friday's race to set the grid to run the'sprint on Saturday'. This race, which is one-third of the distance of a grand Prix, determines the grid for Saturday's main event.

Brawn stated that F1 bosses were reviewing the success of the new format. It has been used at the British and Italian races with another one in Brazil later this month.

He stressed that the trick was to not cannibalize the main event. We want to improve that. Therefore, we must be mindful not to distract from the Sunday event in any way.

What might change in the next year?

Brawn stated that it was a mistake to award pole to the winner in the sprint race, rather than to the fastest driver over one lap. This had been "clearly not popular" with drivers and fans.

Other changes that could be made include increasing the points available to increase the driver's desire to race and attack.

Brawn stated that he would like to see the points offered for the top three drivers go up from the current three-two one for them to an equivalent of around one-third of those for the main grand prix. He also wants to make it more accessible to more drivers.

You could also separate the sprint from the grand prix and make it an independent event. Qualifying would set the grid for that race and determine the sprint-race grid.

Brawn stated that he would like to see grids in reverse order of championship order, but that it would be "perhaps too far" next season.

He said that F1 will be making major changes to the technical rules in 2022. This is intended to improve the racing by making cars more capable of overtaking and following closely.

He said, "The weekend overall has improved so much that we will continue with it. But we are talking with the teams about how to make Saturday more challenging and more engaging." I am hopeful that the new cars will improve because of their ability race together.

"We will be conservative with the steps we take. We don't want it to be ruined by people feeling that it's gone too far.

He stated that the races for next year's six sprint events had not been determined. However, at least one of them will be the British Grand Prix. And he suggested another option: to create a'sprint champion' who is awarded only points from shorter format races.

Drivers and fans leave feedback

Brawn stated that the best thing about the new format is Fridays. On a normal weekend, there's no competition and only two hours of practice for teams to set their cars up.

Brawn stated, "To be honest, we've had an even bigger impact on Friday than we expected," "That's why this experiment is being done.

Talking to drivers about the sprint, they said Friday was great because they get in an hour of practice before they go and it's a race. Most drivers supported Friday's race with a uniform level of support. Only the rookies, who didn't run as much as they would have liked, were slightly apprehensive.

Brawn acknowledged that "avid fans" are still not convinced - they are indifferent, but most of our 'normal fans' were positive about it.