Lewis Hamilton has given a thumbs up to F1’s bid to tweak its Sprint race weekend format, the seven-time world champion welcoming the inclusion of a second qualifying session in the schedule.
The plan has yet to be approved by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council and the F1 Commission, but the new format has received the unanimous support of all ten F1 teams.
Three sprint race trials featured on F1’s 2021 calendar and three more took place in 2022. This year has seen the number grow to six with the first of them due to take place in Baku at the end of this month.
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The changes feature separate qualifying sessions for Sunday’s main race and Saturday’s Sprint, to be held on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning respectively while the weekend’s schedule would only include a single practice session on Friday morning.
“I do think we constantly need to be evolving and assessing what we’re doing,” said Hamilton, commenting on the change during the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
“I think the changes with the sprint races have been positive in some places. I’m open to changes, to continue to make it more inclusive and more engaging for the fans.
“I quite like the Friday of a sprint weekend so far, and I’d love to have more qualifying because that’s always super fun. I just think it should be different.
“Perhaps we can just apply just slightly small changes to different races, specific to those places.
“But if there’s a race where you can’t overtake like Monaco, what else can we do there to make it more exciting?”
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate George Russell also approves of the F1’s prospective Sprint plan, which he believes would procure an extra dose of excitement for the fans.
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“For fans in the crowd, I think just watching cars circulating in practice, I don’t think it’s as exciting as when you have a qualifying session or a sprint race,” said Russell.
“So I think it’s exciting for us, for the teams, and for the fans.”
Not all drivers are on board with the idea of beefing up the Sprint weekend format, with Max Verstappen claiming the concept runs counter to Formula 1’s DNA.
“I’m not a fan of it at all,” he said in Australia.
“Even if you change the format, I don’t find it’s the DNA of Formula 1 to do these kinds of sprint races.
“F1 is about getting the most out of it in qualifying, and then having an amazing Sunday – good, long race distances.
“That’s the DNA of the sport, and I don’t understand or I don’t know why we should change that, because I think the action has been good.”
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