FIA president Jean Todt says the sprint qualifying format being tried out in Formula 1 this year is not a race, and he’s not a fan of the concept but is willing to allow it to be tested.
The new format — consisting of a normal qualifying on Friday, a sprint on Saturday and the race on Sunday — will be run at three events this season, with the first taking place at Silverstone next month. While Todt (pictured at right, above, with Mercedes’ Toto Wolff) doesn’t feel like it is a necessary addition to the race weekend, he says the fact that it won’t have a negative impact on the championship makes it worth trying.
“We don’t call that a race — I have a part of responsibility not calling that a race,” Todt said. “For me the race is on Sunday. If you ask me if I am a big fan of that (sprint qualifying), the answer is no. I don’t think Formula 1 needs it, but on the other side if people want to try something, it’s not going to hurt the race on Sunday. It will (just) be a different way of having the starting grid on Sunday.
“It costs nothing to try. I’m curious to see what will happen, but I am sure it will not damage the race on Sunday. People may say it might be more interesting on Saturday than on Sunday but that is not a big risk for the image and for the credibility of the championship.”
F1 is keen to call the Saturday race simply the “sprint” in order to differentiate it from both qualifying and the main grand prix, something Todt is also backing. The Frenchman says he enjoys working with the sport’s latest management after Stefano Domenicali’s arrival to replace Chase Carey.
“Of course with Stefano I know him (well) — we’ve been working together for 16 years. When I was elected president of the FIA I appointed him as president of the Single Seater Commission. He’s a friend — from being a kind of working colleague, I was his boss, he has become a friend — so I was very happy for him. And in a way for us to work together, he has his style which is different from the one of Chase, even if Chase remains in a non-executive role as chairman.
“I would say in a different manner I’ve been working well with Bernie (Ecclestone), well with Chase and now well with Stefano. The only thing is it is a different kind of collaboration. But I don’t think the sport has even been hurt by the kind of disagreements between the commercial rights holder and the governing body.”