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Brawn: Sprint qualifying won't devalue Sunday F1 grand prix

Ross Brawn is confident Formula 1’s planned “sprint qualifying” at select events in 2021 will still preserve the grand prix on Sunday and not devalue the main race.

A dignitary on the grid with Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, FOM

A dignitary on the grid with Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, FOM

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

F1 is planning to hold sprint races for the first time at three grands prix in 2021, running a 100km race on a Saturday to set the grid for the Sunday grand prix.

F1 managing director of motorsports Brawn used the term “sprint qualifying” to describe the races during an interview on the world feed during Saturday’s Bahrain pre-season test running.

The current plan is to hold sprint races at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos, with the regular qualifying session taking place on a Friday to form the grid for sprint qualifying.

Teams will meet with Brawn and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali on Saturday night in Bahrain to discuss the plans further, with a vote on the final proposal set to take place at a later date before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Drivers have raised concerns about the plans, with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel saying it “makes no sense”, but Brawn explained that it would not detract from the Sunday event.

“We want to fill out a weekend,” Brawn said.

“I think the critical thing is to preserve the grand prix. We want the winner of a grand prix to come away from those weekends still being the strongest and most successful competitor of that weekend.

 

“But we want to fill out the weekend, and we want to give the fans something more substantial to look at and follow on a Friday, something interesting on a Saturday.

“So as well as a sprint qualifying, we’re going to have a normal qualifying on a Friday, where you qualify for your normal position in sprint qualifying, and then in sprint qualifying you’ll take it forward to the race.

“So really we’ll have a much fuller weekend, and that’s what we want to explore. We want this opportunity to try it at three races this year, and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll put our hands up and go away and think about it again.

“But I’m quite optimistic about it. I think if you take the view of the whole weekend, then it’s got a lot going for it.”

F1 teams gave their initial support to the plans during an F1 Commission meeting at the end of January, but there were a number of details that still had to be finalised.

A working group was formed to go over matters such as the impact on the regulations and driver contracts, leaving a “good proposal” on the table for teams before coming to Bahrain, according to McLaren’s Andreas Seidl.

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