The extension of the races to the sprint for the 2023 season is one of the key points in the meeting of the Formula 1 Commission that is being held today in London, and that is that the original plan of the Great Circus was to hold six events of this type in the current season, but it was derailed by the budget limit.
As a result, this year, as in 2021, we will once again have three sprint tests, with the last Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and those that will be held in Austria and Brazil, although it was speculated in the past that they could be Canada and Countries Low.
However, the target for 2023 remains six sprint races, and it is something that Formula 1’s chief executives, Stefano Domenicali and Ross Brawn , will defend today.
The moment smiles on them, as Saturday at Imola was generally well received, providing a reminder of the positive aspects of the format. Friday’s qualifying session was affected by rain, with some drivers left out of their natural position.
At the beginning, Charles Leclerc stole the first position from Max Verstappen, but in the last laps they staged a nice duel, since the Pirelli tires of the Ferrari did not hold up as those of Maranello wanted in the 21 laps of the sprint, showing that the management it’s key.
If the safety car had not come out due to the incident between Pierre Gasly and Guanyu Zhou it could have been even more important, but we also saw action from behind, with Sergio Pérez coming back from 7th to 3rd position, and Carlos Sainz doing the same from 10th to 4th place.
On the contrary, Kevin Magnussen was falling down the table after his bet on the medium compound was not the right one, providing more variety. It could be said that those comebacks by the Mexican and the Spanish would have happened on Sunday as well, and some argue that it is better to have the faster cars at the front for more excitement, despite the fact that Sainz finished out of the race in the first curve and could not be compared.
Brawn was very pleased with the way the format developed at Imola, and remains the biggest supporter of this type of weekend, having invested heavily in it to bring it to new fans without influencing those who are already.
“We’ve always had a goal of trying to get new fans interested in F1,” he told Motorsport.com. “We’re getting there, I think we’re creating a younger demographic, we’re worried about F1 becoming an older white male sport.
“You and I have been on it for years, but how do we get new people in, how do we get new fans, how do we get all profiles interested in the category?” he continued.
“We realized early on that short bits of F1 racing would be popular, and social media has shown that, with streaming services and compilations on YouTube, that has done its job,” he said.
“We think that a half-hour race, with a lot of action, without strategy, can be very attractive, so there is no reason for a fan to have to find out, ‘he has made his pit stop on lap 13, he has made his in 17, it’s going to have better tyres’, and that’s fantastic for people who are committed to F1,” Brawn defended.
“We don’t want to spoil that, but a short race, without strategy, the degradation of the tires comes, although not everyone understands it,” said the Briton. “So that’s what we wanted to create, and that’s what we’re on the way to doing, who knows where it’s going to end up.”
The one who is one of the heads of the highest category of motorsport makes it clear that from the beginning it is not only about the sprint appointment, but that they provide a more exciting and relevant Friday: “The other thing it does is that it gives us a whole weekend.”
“Some teams have even told us why we are going to race on a Saturday morning. As with the weather here, it was essential, and also the fans want to see the cars on track, we can’t just do that on a Saturday.” he explained.
“An hour of free practice is enough, there’s no one going for a fast lap, and as we saw, the order of Free Practice 2 was unlike anything that happened in the sprint,” said the Englishman.
One of last year’s controversies was resolved over the winter, by agreeing that it would be the fastest driver in Friday’s session who would take the poleman title, rather than the sprint race winner, as was the case. in 2021.
However, the biggest change for this course is the distribution of points, since previously they were only distributed to the top three finishers, while in 2022 it has been increased to the fastest eight in the order of 8-7-6-5 -4-3-2-1, which makes the competitors think about taking a chance.
This means that up to 24 points are up for grabs in sprint races, just one of the same as in a normal grand prix, and this could double next year if the expansion is approved.
“The first goal is to try to get the teams down to six,” Brawn said. “That number becomes a pretty big one to even create a mini sprint award. I’m not saying a championship, because I don’t think we should do that, but a little swag, so who’s the sprint champion this year?”
“We could find a commercial partner for the sprint, if they have enough interest. We have to choose the right circuits and frankly we are not going to have one like that in Monaco, but we can go to the promoters and say if it is something they want to take advantage of or they want to sell it to people,” he explained.
“I think it’s a very strong complement, we just have to be careful not to mess up the main event,” he continued. “I think we’re not doing it, that’s the evidence so far, I don’t think the race was influenced at all by Saturday.
As noted above, the six-event plan in 2022 was scaled back due to finances and the teams’ budget cap. As the rules are, the teams have a maximum of 150,000 dollars (about 140,000 euros) for each sprint, that is, they can spend a total of 450,000 dollars in this format (more than 420,000 euros) this season.
There is $100,000 (about 93,000 euros) in damages caused in an accident, as in Zhou’s case, but that cost Alfa Romeo considerably more, which served as proof to groups seeking “compensation”. In fact, if a more serious incident occurs, a higher figure can be agreed with the FIA.
Regardless of the budget cap issue, there is the extra income they get from participating in the sprints, which is known to be $500,000 per weekend (around €467,000), but for Brawn it was frustrating that the teams focused on the sprints. finances instead of the number of races when they were arguing.
This time he trusts that they will reach an agreement, helped by the fact that since it is dealt with a year in advance, it does not need the support of so many participants, as it did in 2022.
“It’s nice that they can see the big picture, but it’s not their specialty. I’ve been in the same boat, so I get it, and that’s why the governance is what it is,” Brawn said.
“We don’t need all the teams to agree, we can get half to agree, which is something we should do,” he explained. “I think the Imola sprint race was perfect for us to have a discussion on Tuesday, we couldn’t have better publicity.”
Ferrari is among those who want to increase the number of appointments to the sprint, as the boss of the Italians, Mattia Binotto , has recognized: “We are in favor, because we believe that it will give us good opportunities in the future for the show, and for the income. “.
“I think it is correct to support it. In terms of cost, I think it has been discussed, in terms of format it is a different question,” he said. “In principle, we are in favor of increasing it to six, and then we can review the format.”
“As we have all said in the past, we have some experience now, can we do better? I think there are some ideas, but that will be discussed on Tuesday, and we will see what can come out,” Binotto said.