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F1’s sprint race format needs a shake-up, says Horner

Formula 1 needs to consider tweaks, and even the idea of a reverse grid format, to bring more entertainment to the sprint races, says Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, prepare to lead the field away for the start of the Sprint race

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, prepare to lead the field away for the start of the Sprint race

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Despite Horner’s championship-winning squad cruising to victory in the F1 sprint at the United States Grand Prix, he has said the lacklustre spectacle has left even him unconvinced by the entertainment that the Saturday races produce.

With the standalone sprint format introduced this year rarely offering much good racing, and even ruining excitement for Sundays because they deliver answers about the true race-pace of each team, Horner thinks something needs to be done to shake things up.

“I think you have got to add a bit more jeopardy to it,” explained Horner at the Circuit of the Americas.

“Whether you do a reverse the top 10 or something, but then you've got to add enough points to it to make it worth the drivers to really go for it.

“It still doesn't quite feel... [special when] you win a sprint race. Obviously, it doesn't mean quite as much as a grand prix, but I think that we're in a process where we need to be open to change and evolution.

“I think that the concept is fine, but I think the execution: we can do a better job in making it more exciting for the viewer.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Sprint winner Verstappen believes that fans had every right to be annoyed by the sprints, because they effectively took away much of the intrigue about tuning in on Sundays.

“If I would be a fan, I would just be disappointed because then you more or less know about the picture,” he said.

“If nothing crazy happens, you know what's going to happen tomorrow [in the grand prix] so I find that it takes away that magic of waking up on a Sunday morning or whatever, Sunday afternoon, and you turn on the TV and you’ve had qualifying, but you're not sure which car is going to be quickest in most of the years.”

COTA boss Bobby Epstein had revealed ahead of the day's action that the circuit had been surprised that having a sprint weekend had not boosted ticket sales at the venue for Saturday.

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And with there being empty seats visible in the grandstands during the sprint, it was clear that the Saturday had not grabbed the attention as much as many had been expecting.

Horner felt, however, that it was not the idea of the sprint that was the problem, but more the way the current format played out.

“I think that the concept of the sprint is still good, I just think the execution of it, I think it's an opportunity to do something a bit different,” he said.

“I think that there's still more that we could do. I don't know, it needs some thought to tune it up.”

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