Piastri welcomes new sprint risk but wary of ‘carnage’
By Ian Parkes
Tuesday 25th April, 2023 - 8:30am
Oscar Piastri feels planned changes to F1’s sprint weekend format will lend itself to drivers taking more risks although is wary of the potential for “carnage” at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The F1 Commission is today (Tues) due to vote through a revision to the schedule for sprint weekends that will result in the one-third distance race effectively becoming a standalone event.
The sprint, with six events scheduled this year, is due to have its own qualifying session that will run in place of second practice on Saturday morning.
Unlike in the past when the result of the sprint set the grid for Sunday’s grand prix, the line up for the main race will be finalised with the late Friday qualifying.
For this weekend in Baku, it means rookie Piastri will have just one practice session to become accustomed to what is a notoriously difficult track to master, particularly through the tight, twisty castle section.
“I think it definitely doesn’t make my life any easier, not having more practice sessions,” said Piastri, in assessing what is due to come this weekend.
Piastri, however, can see the positives, particularly as drivers in previous sprints were more than likely to be conservative rather than go for a move knowing it could jeopardise their grid position on Sunday.
“But you know, it’s the same for everyone in terms of track time, so that’s not a concern.
“If they (F1) do go ahead with that plan (to change the weekend format), I think that’s probably better.
“The way it is at the moment – not that I’ve done one – but it kind of just looks like there are two races that are more or less the same.
“Obviously, no one wants to take too much risk in the sprint race with the way it is at the moment.
“I think having two separate qualifying sessions, it’s a little bit more like how F2 and F3 are at the moment where you have the sprint race – okay, it’s a reverse grid – but a similar kind of idea, obviously.
“Whatever happens in the sprint race doesn’t affect the main race, and I think that will be better for the entertainment and (you will) be able to take more risks.
“Obviously at Baku, a street circuit, there is the potential for carnage, but if they were to go with that format then I’d been pretty happy with that.”
Norris glad sprint won’t affect GP
Team-mate Lando Norris echoed Piastri’s sentiments, highlighting the fact that drivers have previously stated the sprint “should not be connected to the main race”.
“I think what we have on Sunday, and Sunday as a Formula 1 spectacle, as good as it is, I don’t want anything to be affecting that. There have been races in previous years that have.
“You’re just a bit afraid to do anything too much in the first one (sprint) and it can quite easily ruin your Sunday, and I don’t think that’s the point of what it should be.
“It’s more just to add entertainment for the viewers and for the fans, and we obviously have an extra race, so I look forward to it.
“I enjoy Baku, a difficult circuit, so it should be tough, exciting, and considering it’s a sprint race knowing what can happen.
“But it’s always good fun.”
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