Wolff: F1 needs to try sprint races despite inevitable controversy

Toto Wolff believes the introduction of sprint races to Formula 1 in 2021 is something the series “needs to do” despite accepting it will “create controversy”.

Wolff: F1 needs to try sprint races despite inevitable controversy

F1 is currently establishing details for the running of sprint races at three grands prix in 2021, staged on Saturdays to set the grid for the Sunday race.

The proposal to hold sprint races in Canada, Italy and Brazil received “broad support” from teams at the latest F1 Commission meeting, but requires further details to be finalised before a decision is taken later this month.

Drivers have so far been lukewarm over the plans, with many airing concerns that it could devalue the main grand prix on Sundays.

But Mercedes team principal Wolff felt adding another race to the weekend schedule could be successful for F1, citing DTM’s decision to hold races on Saturday and Sunday since 2014 as proof of the benefits.

“The sprint races are an interesting format in my opinion, and an experiment which I believe we need to do," Wolff said when asked by Autosport for his view on the plan.

“I’ve seen in other racing series, like DTM, that the audience almost doubled with having a Saturday and Sunday race, and that obviously can be monetised.

“I think if we were to do this without some interference to create a fake show, then there is merit to try it.

“I’m not sure we will like the outcome, because qualifying as we have it today is a real qualifying and a sprint race always bears the risk of damage which can be costly and a huge impact on Sunday’s grid and the ability to perform.

Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“For sure it is going to create controversy too, but giving it a try for three races in 2021 in the right framework, we will be up for it.”

F1 had originally considered staging sprint races at some events in 2020 using a reversed-grid format, only for Mercedes to block the proposal.

Wolff stressed at the time that Mercedes would not support a “lottery” format by reversing the grid to favour its rivals, saying it went against the DNA of F1.

Despite now being in favour of sprint races, Wolff said it was only because the grid for the Saturday event would still be determined by a regular qualifying session on Saturday, avoiding any artificial results.

“Reverse grids have no place in any sport that is based on measuring and competing in the true sense of sport,” Wolff said.

“We are entertainment, but the moment we slide into show and Hollywood, you will lose a lot of credibility as a sport overall.

“Not every decision that increases the entertainment factor is right for Formula 1. It always needs to be balanced between the DNA of true sport, best man and machine wins, and what the fans would like to see.”

shares
comments

Related video

Alpine decides against having official F1 team principal for 2021

Previous article

Alpine decides against having official F1 team principal for 2021

Next article

Why Haas is prepared to sacrifice its 2021 F1 season

Why Haas is prepared to sacrifice its 2021 F1 season
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Luke Smith
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Plus

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his team-mate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Plus

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Plus

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warmup. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
How Hamilton took a “completely different journey” to Portugal victory Plus

How Hamilton took a “completely different journey” to Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The ‘big fish’ mentality that kept an Australian legend winning Plus

The ‘big fish’ mentality that kept an Australian legend winning

Frank Gardner was the veteran of just eight grand prix starts. It could have been more, but why waste his talent if the cars weren't up to it? NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls the life of one of racing's great characters

Formula 1
May 2, 2021
Why Todt’s FIA successor could be cut from the same cloth Plus

Why Todt’s FIA successor could be cut from the same cloth

Jean Todt has signalled that he will not stand for re-election as FIA president. MARK GALLAGHER analyses the strong credentials of one potential successor…

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull and Mercedes uncertain of supremacy at Portimao Plus

The data that leaves both Red Bull and Mercedes uncertain of supremacy at Portimao

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying

Formula 1
Apr 30, 2021