Wolff: Sprint race offers no benefit in risk-adverse environment
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff believes that F1’s current sprint race format offers little benefit for the sport as drivers are unwilling to take any “serious risk” in the Saturday afternoon race.
Formula 1 experienced its second sprint race trial at Monza last weekend but save for the first few corners after the start, the processional event produced once again little entertainment for the fans.
With the running order establishing the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix and little incentive on offer, Wolff believes that most drivers are not inclined to take “serious risk” in the 30-minute dash and potentially jeopardize their starting position for the main event.
“First of all, everybody is confused,” Wolff said. “I don’t know how it is with you, I don’t even know what session is when.
“I believe the sprint race format as it stands at the moment, doesn’t give a lot of benefit because nobody will take a serious risk.
“There’s too little points at stake and the risk of compromising your Sunday Grand Prix, with points all the way back to 10th position, is just not worth the risk.
“So, what we’ve seen is a combination of general difficulties in overtaking because the straight-line speeds are very similar, but also because, even Turn 1 and 2, nobody takes a risk.”
Although he’s unsure the concept should return next season, Wolff says that F1 was right to experiment with the idea.
“I think let’s give it another try in Brazil, let’s see if anything changes,” he said.
“But that was a worthwhile experiment and for me, and this is just a personal opinion or the opinion of my engineers here, it’s not fish, not meat.
“I think sprint races were worth a try – I’m not sure if we will keep them.”
Read also – Szafnauer: Reverse grids would put F1 on ‘slippery slope’
F1 boss Ross Brawn has tabled the idea of making the Saturday afternoon race a standalone event, with points on offer but no bearing of the results on Sunday’s grid.
McLaren’s Lando Norris believes that separating the two races could indeed improve the show on Saturday.
“If you would have it separate to the actual Sunday race and take away that fear of crashing, allow yourself to do those risks maybe a little bit more and not actually affect Sunday, [it could] at least shake things up a little bit more,” said the Briton.
“But considering we’re in Monza and it’s a bit more of a racetrack, I don’t think it was the most exciting race for the fans. And I think that’s the whole point of why we’re doing it.”
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