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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

Horner: F1 sprint format doesn’t work for fans, drivers or teams

Formula 1’s current sprint format does not work for fans, drivers or teams, says Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start of the Sprint race

Despite some entertainment in the Brazil sprint this weekend – especially in battles for midfield spots – there is a growing feeling that the current standalone Saturday format is not delivering what it should for F1.

And having failed to capture the imagination of drivers, with some wanting sprints to be got rid of completely, Horner says the way sprints work at the moment is not favoured by anybody.

“I think what we have at the moment isn't quite right for the drivers, the fans or the teams,” explained Horner. “I think there needs to be more to it.

“We have just won a sprint race, and nobody quite knows what to do because all the focus is already on the grand prix. It's like you've won a long run and got a medal for it.”

F1 chiefs have already begun discussions with teams about potential changes to the sprint format for next year, with a range of ideas on offer – including reverse grids, a standalone championship and a switching around of the qualifying timetable.

Horner is clear that any revision to the format needs to be big, as it has to be more than just playing around with the edges.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

He even suggests that one way to increase the intensity of it could be to offer big cash prizes.

“Maybe one thing will be to have an enormous prize fund for the team and drivers,” he said. “That's always a big motivation. Then you will see some celebrating at the end.

“It's also maybe worth looking at it slightly differently. If you look at a football league or other leagues of sport, they have their main league and then they have cup finals. Maybe you have to look at something that is a little bit different like that, which has a bigger reward attached to it.”

Horner also admits he doesn’t have a preference for how sprints should be shaken up, but he was sceptical about the idea of a standalone series.

“Who cares about a sprint championship?” he said. “I think that we can do a better job.

“I think there's an appetite, as you can see from the fans, to have a race on a Saturday. But what should it be?

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, on the Sprint racepodium with their trophies

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, on the Sprint racepodium with their trophies

“Should it be a reverse grid? Should it be on championship order? Should it have more points attached to it? Should there be two grands prix during the weekend rather than one.

“I don't have the answer. But I know what we have today needs tuning.”

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While Horner is well aware that F1 bosses are committed to keeping the sprint idea as some element of weekends, he says his ultimate preference would be to lose them completely.

“Personally I prefer the old format,” he said. “I'm a traditionalist. I like the build-up.

“It's like having a quarter-final, a semi-final and then the final. You don't have the third place play off on the first week of Wimbledon.”

 

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