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Alonso laments "game of who can run less" in F1 sprint event practice

Fernando Alonso reckons Formula 1’s tyre allocation should be increased for sprint events, as he feels the current rules mean “it’s a game of who can run less” in practice.

Mechanics of Aston Martin push the car of Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24 to its grid slot

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The sprint format means the teams have only one practice session to get their cars ready before the opening sprint qualifying and race action, which means deploying unusual FP1 run plans compared to standard race events.

In FP1 in China last week – the first sprint weekend of the 2024 season – Alonso’s Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll topped a session where the teams concentrated on long runs before unleashing a series of qualifying simulations late on.

The tyre allocation for sprint events is reduced by one set overall from 13 to 12, with the split going from two sets of the hards, three sets of the mediums and eight sets of softs, to four mediums and six softs plus the usual two hards.

Alonso said after the main race in Shanghai that “I think more tyres will be good because in FP1 it is a game of who can run less and who uses less sets of tyres” before going on to lambast the penalty he received for clashing with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in the first race last weekend.

 “So, it is a shame for the fans,” he added. “And then the sprint, if they want it for the show and for overtaking and you don't let them race, it is better not to race.”

Alonso also said next weekend’s Miami sprint weekend will be “another one where the tyres will be unknown”.

He continued: “So ideally, you would not run in FP1 to keep all the tyres alive and you don't run the sprint race to save penalty points on your license.

“Obviously, we will not do that because we need to learn something from the car in Miami. But we need to still think, the sprint needs further tuning.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, in the garage

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, in the garage

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Mercedes driver George Russell said he “enjoyed” the tweaked sprint format for 2024, with parc ferme being opened post-sprint race ahead of GP qualifying to allow teams to make set-up adjustments, but agreed with Alonso on the idea of increasing the tyre allocation.

“I enjoy this format,” said Russell. “I think maybe the only thing that would be better is to change the tyre rule for practice.

“Maybe giving everybody the same set of tyres or number of tyres in practice because it shouldn't be influencing the rest of your weekend based on what you do in practice.

“So that'd be my only thought, otherwise, I was pretty happy with it.”

In the only two FP1 sessions previously held in 2024 that did not feature a red-flag interruption – Bahrain, where the teams had just completed a test and must deal with the most abrasive track surface of the year, and Jeddah – the total number of laps logged was 422 and 471 respectively.

In China, the total was 453 – despite time being lost due to the stoppage following the weekend’s first bizarre trackside grass fire.

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