F1 cannot change its “freestyle” format with “confused” ideas


F1 held its second sprint race last Saturday at Monza, with the 100km race to establish Sunday’s grand prix grid offering little track action or overtaking.

This came after F1 Motorsport General Manager Ross Brawn revealed that there were plans to change the sprint racing format for next season, while Ferrari expressed support for a possible introduction of inverted grid events.

Mercedes F1 boss Wolff has made it clear that the team is not moved in its opposition to inverted grids and has remained lukewarm about the success of the sprint races, saying the current format “doesn’t give much benefit” to the teams.

Brazil are set to host the third and final F1 sprint event of the 2021 season in November before a possible expansion to other events next year.

Wolff said F1 should remember its responsibility to fans to remain a meritocracy, and warned against any drastic regulatory changes just to spice up the show on the track.

“We have resisted experiences in the past because they were too controversial and mainly against what the sport stands for, and this is real racing,” Wolff said.

“We have great personalities now, it’s broadcast the right way, and people know it’s meritocracy: the best man and the best machine wins. You can see, this year there are just more cars that are really competitive and a really good fight at the top.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B and Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Photo By: Steve Etherington / Motorsport images

“So whatever conclusion we draw, together, the teams, the FIA, the FOM and the F1 Commission, whether we stop or continue, we have to do it with a fine comb.

MORE: How Monza only added more questions to the F1 sprint race conundrum

“I don’t think this is the regulation we should be trying [to hit] with a baseball bat. We have too many responsibilities for our sport to be content with freestyle with the regulatory changes.

“If Brazil turns out to be an exciting race then maybe there will be a desire to continue.

“But some of the suggestions that have been made are just confusing.”

When asked what F1 should do if sprint races were to be abolished and any inverted grid format was banned, Wolff suggested using a traditional weekend format with a practice session of less than usual.

“Start Friday afternoon with FP1, do FP2 on Saturday morning, do conventional qualifying like we do, and a fantastic grand prize on Sunday,” Wolff said.

“Maybe you want to do a little warm-up on Sunday morning, to add a little more spectacle for people.

“Either way, I would just shorten the free practice sessions so that there is more variability in the results, but I would keep the rest as is.”

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