Steiner supports F1 format tweaks
By Mat Coch
Thursday 13th April, 2023 - 9:10pm
Guenther Steiner is supportive of Formula 1 tweaking the weekend format in pursuit of the best balance between sporting and entertainment spectacle.
The introduction of Sprint events in 2021 has arguably been the most significant change to the sport in its history.
A short, 100km competitive encounter on Saturday afternoon sets the final starting order for Sunday’s grand prix at select events.
Unpopular when first introduced, and still divisive, it has proved a success with television audiences and event promoters.
There are now efforts to further refine that format using the experience gained from the six Sprint events seen thus far.
“I think, what do you call it the normal race weekend, I think we can leave that for the time being what it is,” Steiner said.
“But you all know that we speak about the Sprint race weekend that we want to change something there.
“I think the Sprint race weekend when it came in, everyone was sceptical [but] it seems to be working out pretty well.
“Now we know where we want to tweak that one to have a second qualifying on Saturday, because now the free practice of Saturday, nobody learns a lot because you cannot change the car.
“You go around and test your tyre but who’s going to watch that?
“So making that one a qualifying session in one way or another, I think will be very interesting.
“Then we will see, maybe we can do more Sprint races, I don’t know what else we can do with the three free practice sessions.”
It’s a question Formula 1 president and CEO Stefano Domemicali has been pondering too.
That prompted suggestions of reduced practice and a truncated race weekend.
Another option is to have a competitive element to practice, though that’s not something Steiner is in favour of.
“A free practice, either it’s a competition or it’s a practice,” he ventured.
“In my opinion, you cannot say whoever wins practice because then you need to make a race out of it.
“If there’s something at the end of it, everybody will race towards it and then maybe we dilute the races.
“So we need to be careful not to try now to be too draconian and change everything.
“Let’s change bit by bit, always make sure we try something.
“If it doesn’t work, do not be afraid to do something different, [do] not be stubborn and stuck on it.
“That is how we came along to have this Sprint weekend because, in the beginning, a lot of people were against it.
“Now I think everybody is pretty happy that we have got them.”
Azerbaijan hosts the first Sprint event of the year, the first of six in 2023.
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