Brawn surprised by ‘boring’ F1 Sprint Qualifying

Sergio Perez leads Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso during Sprint Qualifying

Formula 1 boss Ross Brawn has admitted he was surprised at the lack of overtaking in a Sprint Qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix Sergio Perez branded “boring”.

Provisional pole sitter Valtteri Bottas led the 18-lap session from lights to flag, trailed by Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, and Lewis Hamilton.

The latter’s slip from second to fifth at the start proved the only significant movement of the race, though Perez was able to claw back one spot on Lance Stroll after falling to 10th.

It was otherwise a processional affair, far removed from the action Brawn expected to see in Monza.

“We’re optimistic that next year’s car is going to help a lot,” said Brawn, F1’s managing director of motorsport.

“But I must say, I was surprised how difficult it was to overtake, even with DRS.

“This was one of the races we selected because we thought there would be more opportunity, but as the race panned out that didn’t seem to be the case.”

Having started ninth, Perez fell behind Stroll off the start before making his way back through on the Aston Martin,

Their tussle proved one of the few pieces of wheel-to-wheel action of the encounter, and left the Mexican critical of the Sprint Qualifying concept.

“There’s nothing happening. I don’t see the benefit of having the sprint race,” he opined.

“I can imagine it’s also boring for fans, boring for drivers.

“At the moment, how it is, the current format, I don’t feel it brings anything. We’ll see if the fans are happy with it.”

Brawn countered Perez’s view by suggesting the grid has now been given a new complexion as a result of the Sprint Qualifying session.

While Bottas falling to the rear was always known, Ricciardo’s strong start means he’ll join Verstappen at the front.

Conversely, Hamilton has fallen to the second row, offering up the prospect of a recovery drive and battle with his championship rival during Sunday’s race.

“The whole weekend is evolving, we’ve got a three-stage event,” Brawn reasoned.

“We’ve got quite a different complexion on the race tomorrow than we thought we had after qualifying on Friday, so I think it’s great in that respect.

“A little bit quiet at the front of the grid, but then you get that at races anyway.

“Plenty of action in the middle,” he added.

“Plenty of action at the start – we had a very exciting start – so I think it’s added to it, I think it’s added to the whole thing.”

The Italian Grand Prix is the second of three planned experiments for the Sprint Qualifying format this season, with the Sao Paulo Grand Prix scheduled to host the third.

However, there is already talk of the concept being reworked for 2022, with Sprints becoming standalone competitions on Saturday afternoon rather than determining the grid for Sunday’s race.

Reverse grids have also been spoken about, something which met heavy resistance from teams when first floated.

The Italian Grand Prix gets underway tonight at 23:00 AEST.

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