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F1 drivers back move to standalone sprints

Formula 1 drivers have backed the move to make sprint races standalone events with their own qualifying sessions.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22, the field at the start of the Sprint race

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The revised rules have been agreed with the teams and are set to be formally approved next week and then used in Azerbaijan, the venue for the first of this season’s six sprint events.

Fridays will run to a familiar sprint pattern with FP1 followed by qualifying, but with the grid counting for Sunday’s main event.

In place of FP2 a shorter version of qualifying will be run on Saturday to determine the grid positions for the sprint later that day.

Many drivers have indicated that they like the idea of splitting the two events so that an incident in qualifying for the sprint or in the sprint itself does not compromise them for the gand prix.

“I think it is,” said Charles Leclerc when asked by Autosport if it was a good idea. “I mean we can take a bit more risk in a sprint qualifying without putting your complete weekend away. So that is good.”

“Obviously you need to find a way that is kind of fair, but mixes things up,” said Valtteri Bottas. “You're definitely calculating risks in the sprints. So it's a good point. Maybe it could be something.”

Nyck De Vries agreed that drivers can take more risks when they know that Sunday's race won’t be compromised.

“I think it's good that they distinguish the sprint race result from the starting grid of the Grand Prix,” said the Dutchman.

“Because that is actually not incentivising racing because then especially people in front don't want to take risks. And people want to see a show, so I think that is a smart decision.”

Nyck de Vries is happy with the switch to standalone sprints

Nyck de Vries is happy with the switch to standalone sprints

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Nico Hulkenberg acknowledged that with the previous format Saturday's FP2 session was essentially redundant.

“The risk reward thing is always there,” said the Haas driver. “You never want to damage the car, obviously. And there's points in the sprint.

“But it's actually not a bad idea because that Saturday morning session was a little bit pointless, wasn't it?”

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Carlos Sainz stressed that the GPDA had been pushing for a split between sprints and the Grand Prix in an attempt to produce more action.

“It is the direction that we asked the F1 and FIA to go if they want a better show,” he said. “They asked us. We said we need to the sprint not to count [for the Grand Prix grid].

“So I'm happy they took our feedback on board, and it should be the right direction and an exciting weekend.”

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