Wolff has faith Domenicali will pick right F1 sprint venues

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has faith that Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali will pick the right venues for future sprint races, after mixed responses to the Austrian Grand Prix spectacle.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

While sprint qualifying races have divided opinion among those in the paddock, F1 says that feedback from fans is hugely positive.

F1 is looking to expand the number of sprint events to six in 2023, but those plans have currently been put on hold awaiting approval from FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

However, a lack of excitement at the Red Bull Ring last weekend – with the top four positions remaining unchanged throughout – prompted some fresh debate about whether or not the Spielberg venue was the right place for a sprint in the future.

In the wake of Austria perhaps not delivering as much excitement as other sprint races have, Wolff said he believed Domenicali would do the right thing in ensuring the 2023 locations were appropriate.

“I think if I have trust in one person to choose the right sprint races, it's Stefano,” he said. “And Stefano will have seen [the Austria race] and will take it into consideration.”

But, despite believing that F1 can do better with sprints, Wolff says part of the ultimate problem in producing great racing is the performance disparity between teams.

“I think the reason why races have less entertainment is because there's just too much performance gap between the teams,” he said.

“If you have Verstappen disappearing in a distance, the two Ferraris being the only entertainment during the race and then we [Mercedes] are in the middle of nowhere in no man's land.

“Then the others are further behind, and then you have DRS trains. That never can make a good sprint race.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

While the sprints have not delivered huge excitement on Saturdays, F1 chiefs have noticed an uplift in viewer interest because a race weekend has three key days of action.

Furthermore, some drivers have welcomed the fact that the F1 format gets shaken up from time-to-time.

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo said: “I like it. The Friday, it's a bit more fun for a driver to be honest. And also, I've said it a few times, but when you've been doing it for 10 years, like a Friday practice, I think when there's something to fight for every day, it does keep the weekend a bit more, I don't want to say exciting, but there's more purpose, every session.

“You don't have the luxury of two hours on track Friday to get it right, then you have another session Saturday morning. So you have one session. There's a lot of pressure on everyone. And then it's bang straight into quali.

“I think that mix up is good. I think it's kind of refreshing as well. I think they’re boosting it next year, so I'm OK with that. And I think racing as well, every time the lights go out, that's when your adrenaline's the highest.”

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