McLaren seek ‘optimal point’ for F1 spectacle

Andrea Stella feels with planned changes to a grand prix weekend looming it is important F1 finds the optimal entertainment level

McLaren boss Andrea Stella feels with planned changes to a GP weekend looming it is important F1 finds the optimal entertainment level

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has called on F1 to find “the optimal point” for the sport’s spectacle ahead of the planned revision of the grand prix weekend format.

On Tuesday (Apr 25), the F1 Commission is scheduled to vote through changes that will result in the introduction of an additional qualifying session for sprint weekends, starting with the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

It is then later due to be rubberstamped by the World Motor Sport Council.

Friday qualifying, which had previously set the grid for Saturday’s sprint, is to provide the line-up for Sunday’s grand prix.

The extra qualifying session, running to a shortened schedule, is to take the place of the previously defunct second practice hour on Saturday, and will set the grid for the sprint.

It means the propensity for additional incidents has increased significantly, particularly around a circuit that has provided plenty of drama in recent years.

“In terms of being nervous, yes, we are nervous,” said Stella, ahead of what will be the first of six sprint event weekends this year.

“At the same time, we are supportive of increasing the spectacle through the sprint races. Somehow we have to adapt.

“There are also conversations open with the FIA and F1, so this is a collaborative process.

“Ultimately, we’ll have to find the optimal point for the spectacle, and also for teams to manage parts and to manage the costs in the cost cap.”

McLaren stockpile spare parts

Stella’s nerves will be tested in Baku as McLaren will be running what is expected to be a significant upgrade package.

The MCL60 has so far under-performed but that was to be expected after the team failed to hit its development targets over the winter.

With the updates, all eyes will be on McLaren to see if the team can finally make progress, leaving Stella hoping his team can enjoy an incident-free weekend to ensure sufficient data can be gleaned moving forward.

At least Stella has no concerns about parts, particularly with the Miami Grand Prix following just a week later, as McLaren has stockpiled in case of difficulties.

“We will be going to Baku with a sufficient number of parts,” confirmed Stella.

“They will be backed up for the following race anyhow, to elevate the quantity.

“So no, it (the Baku sprint weekend) doesn’t set us a specific problem associated with the new parts.”

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