Why Formula 1 is pushing for the expansion of sprint racing

The original plan was to hold six this season, but in the end that was derailed by a debate over the financial implications amid a tighter budget cap.

As a result, this year, as in 2021, there will again be three sprints, with last weekend’s Imola round to be followed by Austria and Brazil.

While plans to hold sprints in Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands have been scrapped, six remain the target for 2023, and that’s what F1 bosses Stefano Domenicali and Ross Brawn will push today.

The timing is right for them, as Saturday’s Imola sprint was generally well received and served as a reminder of the format’s positives.

Brawn was clearly happy with how the Imola sprint had gone. He remains the biggest proponent of the format, and he’s heavily invested in it as a way to reach new fans – without alienating existing ones.

“Our goal has always been to try and get new fans interested in F1,” he told Motorsport.com on Sunday morning. “And we are achieving that, I think we are rejuvenating the population. We fear that F1 will become an old white man’s sport.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, overtakes Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, for the lead

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport footage

“You and I have been at it for donkey years, but how do you bring in new people, how do you get new fans, how do you get fans of all kinds of backgrounds to engage in the sport?

“And we found out early on that those kind of little bits of F1 would be popular. And that turned out to be the case on social media, with streaming services, YouTube compilations, whatever. And that has does its job.

“But we also felt that it can be quite appealing to have a half-hour race, lots of action, no strategy, so there’s no reason a fan should have to worry. train, ‘he made his pit stop on lap 13, he finished his on 17, he’s going to have better tires.

“And that’s fantastic for people who are really committed to F1, we don’t want to spoil that. But for a short race, without strategy, tire degradation comes into play, but I think everyone understands that those tires wear out.”

“So that’s what we wanted to create, and that’s what we’re doing. Who knows where this will end?”

Brawn made it clear from the start that this was not just about the Saturday sprint, but also about a more exciting and relevant Friday.

“The other thing he does is he gives us a full weekend,” he noted. “Which is great for a promoter. I mean, anything we can do to fill promoter seats, get people to watch TV more often is positive.

“And some teams even said why are we racing on a Saturday morning? As is the case with the weather here, that was key. And also the fans want to see cars racing. We can’t just have one. only.” event on a Saturday, I think the fans want to see the cars rolling.

Stefano Domenicali, CEO, <a class=Formula 1, Ross Brawn, Managing Director Motorsport, FOM ” loading=”lazy”/>

Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1, Ross Brawn, Managing Director Motorsport, FOM

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport footage

“One hour of free practice is enough. I mean, there’s no one for a quick lap. As we saw yesterday, the order of finish in FP2 was nothing like what happened. went into a sprint.”

A controversy from last year was resolved over the winter when it was agreed that the fastest driver in Friday qualifying would be considered poleman by posterity, instead of that honor going to the winner. of the sprint, as was the case in 2021. It made no difference at Imola as Verstappen covered both bases.

However, the biggest change for 2022 concerns the awarding of points. Last year it was a simple 3-2-1 for the top three, and this season the points range has been extended to 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for the top eight, making it even more interesting for midfield runners.

It also means that up to 24 points are up for grabs over the three sprints, just short of a Grand Prix win. Next year it could double if the expansion plan is approved.

“The first goal is to try to get the teams to go to six,” Brawn said. “Six becomes a pretty big number in terms of even creating a mini sprint prize. I’m not saying a championship, because I don’t think we should be doing that, but a mini sprint prize, so who’s the sprint champion this year?

“We could then find a business partner for the sprint, if it has enough substance.

“We have to choose the right tracks, and frankly we are not going to organize a sprint in Monaco. But we can go to the promoters and say is this something you want to exploit, is this something you want to sell to people?

“I just think it gives you a really strong addition. We just have to be really careful, because we don’t spoil the main event. And I don’t think we do. I mean, that’s proof I don’t think today’s race was cannibalized or ruined by what we did yesterday.”

As previously reported, the six-event plan in 2022 failed mainly in a debate over finances as an extension of the budget cap.

According to the rules, teams receive a cap allocation of $150,000 per sprint. In other words, for all three events this year, they subtract $450,000 from their total season spend.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 2nd position, on the Sprint Race podium with Jean Alesi

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 2nd position, on the Sprint Race podium with Jean Alesi

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport pictures

There’s an additional $100,000 for crash damage in a sprint – and Zhou Guanyu’s heavy crash on the first lap on Saturday, which cost Alfa a bit more, showed why teams are looking for a such “compensation”. Indeed, for a major accident, it is possible to agree on a higher number with the FIA.

Regardless of the cost cap issue, there’s the additional revenue teams earn from participating in sprint events, which is estimated at $500,000 per weekend.

It was frustrating for Brawn that, when discussing six races for 2022, the teams focused on the numbers rather than what the three extra sprints might have added to the show.

Read also :

He is confident that this time everything will be agreed, helped by the fact that, as we look into next year, fewer teams have to back the plans. The problem with 2022 was that the debate was drifting into the current season, and therefore a greater level of support from the teams was needed.

“It’s good if they can see the big picture, but that’s not really their specialty! I’ve been in the same boat as me, so I understand. And that’s why governance is what which is.

“We don’t need all the teams to agree, we can get half the teams to agree, which I think we should be able to do. I think yesterday’s event was a perfect lead. for us to have a discussion on Tuesday. We can ‘I don’t have a better publicity for the sprint.’

Ferrari is certainly among those willing to support an extension to six events, and perhaps adjustments to the format as well.