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Horner: F1's sprint parc ferme rules are a "joke"

Red Bull's Christian Horner feels Formula 1's restrictive sprint parc ferme rules are a "joke" in the wake of a controversial sprint weekend in Austin.

Jo Canales and Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

Jo Canales and Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

F1 tweaked the sprint format it uses at six races in 2023 by moving qualifying for the main grand prix to Friday afternoon, followed by sprint qualifying and the race on Saturday ahead of Sunday's main grand prix.

Cars are placed under parc ferme rules after Friday morning's single free practice session, which means teams are locked into their car setups and subject to strict limits on the items they can change for the remainder of the weekend.

At last weekend's United States Grand Prix both Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton were disqualified from the race due to excessive floor plank wear, with both teams likely caught out by the sprint format and its extended parc ferme rules.

Teams who feel forced to change their set-ups are effectively thrown out of qualifying and forced to start from the pitlane.

Red Bull team boss Horner called it a "joke" that teams are locked into their set-ups after just one hour of running on Friday.

"For me, parc ferme is a bit of a joke. You have one session to set your car up. And then the engineers may as well go home at that point," Horner said.

"So, that needs looking at and that I'm sure was a contributing factor to the ride height issues of the teams that fell foul of the regulations.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

"Effectively, it's just a long run on a sprint race. And there's no real jeopardy to it, there's no real incentive behind it."

Horner's star driver Max Verstappen is a big opponent of sprint races, calling for them to be scrapped as he takes "no satisfaction" from winning them.

The format has been hit and miss, with an entertaining sprint in Qatar followed by a dud in Austin, which is often dictated by tyre wear.

Horner thinks F1 should conduct a survey into how popular the format is with the fans, as making grand prix weekends more entertaining for them was the objective to begin with.

"We should really go to the fans and get their feedback as well. What is it that they want?" Horner questioned.

"I think it'd be interesting to look at the data at the end of the year of how popular the sprint race has been because, at the end of the day, it's all about the fans.

"The reason we do sprint races is to try and provide more entertainment to create a more attractive event.

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"We have to be honest with ourselves at the end of the year when we've got all the samples of the sprint races and say: 'Okay, what can we do better? What can be learned? And how can we improve the spectacle?'"

"If the drivers enjoy it and find it rewarding, and the teams find it rewarding, then I think the fans ultimately will."

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