Formula 1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn is certain the Sprint format being used at this weekend’s British Grand Prix will work for the sport to some degree.
Silverstone will see qualifying take place on Friday evening to set the starting order for a 17-lap race – known as the Sprint – on Saturday afternoon. The result of the the Sprint will then set the grid for Sunday’s usual grand prix, and while Brawn is understanding of anyone who is wary of the change to the format, he believes the main question will simply be how much the extra race improves the spectacle for fans.
“I think there’s pros and cons (to skepticism),” Brawn told RACER. “I think being very conservative about change is also very important because we’ve got a lot of tradition in Formula 1, we’ve got a great sport, it works very well, it’s not broken, so we’ve got to be careful not to damage it. That’s why I think having three events during the year is perfect because it gives us enough to prove the concept but it won’t ruin the championship if it doesn’t work.
“It will still be a fantastic championship. But it’s not not going to work, it’s a question of degree. I think it’ll be how successful is it? Is it successful enough to become a regular feature in the future, or is it OK and we don’t need the distraction? Because I don’t see why it’s going to be a failure.
“I’m old enough to remember when qualifying was Fridays and Saturdays, and there was a lot of interest on a Friday – from the fans, from the media – and in those days Saturday could be washed out and Friday counted. So there were a lot of benefits to Friday qualifying, and rather like the fastest lap point, I didn’t honestly think we’d get the engagement we’ve achieved with the teams and the drivers, but they’re going for it, and they add a little nuance to the race.
“Some purists say it’s not really a fastest lap because they’re putting tires on and making an event out of it! Well, I’m sorry, that’s entertainment. It’s still a challenge, it’s still a sporting contest, and the fans have got something to get excited about. And that’s the key, we need to keep the integrity of Formula 1 but add engagement and content where we can, where we maintain that integrity.”
After the British Grand Prix, the Sprint will also be trialed at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September, while it is provisionally scheduled to have a third test in Brazil.