F1 drivers slam sprint race qualifying idea

Sun, 22 September 2019, 09:35

Sep.22 (GMM) Formula 1 drivers have slammed a proposal to radically shake up the qualifying format.

In meetings with Liberty Media and the FIA in Singapore, team bosses discussed the possibility of scrapping the current format to install a Saturday sprint race.

The grid for the sprint race would be in reverse championship order, with the results then determining the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

“It’s part of the discussions about how to improve the sport and make it more attractive,” FIA president Jean Todt is quoted by France’s L’Equipe.

“We are always considering new ideas but I would say it’s a work in progress. No decision has been made yet.”

However, it is believed the teams have agreed in principle that the new format should be trialled at three grands prix in 2020.

But Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer said in Singapore: “There are many outstanding questions.

“What happens if you crash in the qualifying race? We would need more spare parts but who pays for that? The usage of the engine and the tyres would also change,” he added.

Multiple top drivers in Singapore came out strongly against the idea.

Lewis Hamilton said: “People who propose that don’t really know what they’re talking about.”

Sebastian Vettel added: “I think it’s complete bullshit to be honest.

“I don’t know which genius came up with that but it’s not the solution. If you want to improve things, we need to string the field more closely together and have better racing.”

Max Verstappen commented: “I think it’s a stupid idea.”

George Russell agreed: “It would be unfair if someone who deserves to be at the front gets held up or damages the car as he drives through the field.

“I think in Formula 1 we need to be looking at the difference in speed between the cars before looking at ways to be more entertaining like this.”

Alex Albon is also opposed to the reverse-order Saturday sprint race, commenting: “I’m sure Williams likes it!

“Honestly, I don’t know why we need it. I think a better way to help the other teams have more chances is to distribute the prize money more equally.”

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl said: “I would say that at the moment it’s nothing more than an idea.

“We are far enough away from implementation that we have not even begun to discuss how it all works in detail.

“At McLaren, we’re ready for the discussion. As long as something does not harm the basics of Formula 1, everyone in the paddock should be open to a discussion.”

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