Sprint F1 races mustn’t devalue victory

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Sprint F1 races mustnt devalue victory

F1 teams are currently evaluating the details about how to implement some sprint race experiments at select events in 2021, to see if they should be introduced as a more permanent fixture.

If the plans get the go-ahead, then it is likely that F1 will trial a Saturday sprint race at the Canadian, Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix.

While a previous push to change the weekend format by having a reverse grid qualifying race fell flat after failing to get the necessary team support, there is much more backing for the sprint race idea.

And for Ricciardo, the concept is something that he thinks could be successful, as long as the change does not take away the prestige of winning the grand prix itself.

Speaking about the idea of sprint races, Ricciardo said: “At first, I was a little apprehensive. But I do feel better at the thought of that, certainly, than a reverse grid.

“So I think, ultimately, if the best guys and the best teams are still coming out on top, and it’s kind of not manipulated or artificial, so to speak, then I’m less scared of it.

“Competition is obviously what I love most, so I would love to do more races and less practice or whatever. So it kind of does go towards probably what I want.

“But I think the biggest thing is I want an F1 win to still feel as big as what it should be. I don’t ever want an F1 win to feel diluted, or just somewhat lower than what it should.

“So if they do bring in another race on the weekend, as long as it kind of carries the same value, then I guess I’m certainly more open-minded towards that.”

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But while Ricciardo is positive about the sprint race idea, Alfa Romeo reserve Robert Kubica is more sceptical – and thinks F1 is looking in the wrong place if it thinks sprint races are the answer to the sport’s problems.

“I can [talk] only as a spectator, because I’m not planning to do them, but I think in the end it will not make a massive difference,” he said.

“I don’t think the format is a key point of making F1 more spectacular. For sure, there are pros and cons, but I don’t have a clear view.

“I still like what we had in the past. It was the common DNA of F1, that Saturday we have qualifying. It will be strange to have Friday qualifying, I think from a spectator point of view.”

Despite reservations in some quarters about the sprint race plans, teams are ready to back the plan ahead of the start of the new season.

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said that a sprint race trial was much purer than having a gimmick like reverse grids.

“It was simply important that when we speak about different race formats, that it’s not something where you try to artificially change the pecking order like a reverse grid situation for example,” he said.

“That’s why we were supportive. But it’s also clear it needs now a working group to sort out the details quickly as possible because the devil is always in the detail.

“But there is a commitment from all the teams really, supporting this initiative, and I’m sure that’s something we can overcome quickly. And then we’re actually looking forward to try something like this this year.”

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