F1 Sprint Race Qualifying Trial Gets Thumbs Up From Ricciardo, Marko

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s Saturday sprint race idea is gaining momentum and apparently acceptance.

The FIA confirmed last week that the proposed shakeup of the traditional F1 race weekend format is set to be tested at three circuits in 2021. A sprint race of yet-to-be-determined length is slated to replace one round of practice and would be used in place of traditional qualifying. The results from the sprint race would then set the grid for the main event on Sunday.

The proposed Saturday sprint would also involve points being awarded to the top-finishing drivers. The move is designed to spice up the race weekend and draw more attention to Saturday’s on-track activity.

“I like this idea more than reverse grids,” McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo said on Monday. “The best guys from the best teams will still be ahead, so it’s nothing really artificial. I like the idea of more races and less practice.”

However, Ricciardo said F1 needs to be careful not to tinker too much with its basic traditions of rewarding the best and the fastest car-driver combinations.

“I don’t want winning in Formula 1 to become easier so that the value of a win is diminished,” said Ricciardo, who will pair with Lando Norris at McLaren in 2021. “If that is taken into account, then I’m open to this idea.”

Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko also likes the idea of F1 sprint racing.

“I think it’s a good decision—we’ve had too many boring races. It’s also good that these races will involve points. We have found three suitable tracks on which it is possible to overtake to try it,” said Marko, referring to the proposed us of the format for Grands Prix at Montreal, Monza and Interlagos.

McLaren Formula 1 team principal Andreas Seidl added on Monday: “We don’t want to artificially change the order of the drivers, as would be the case with reverse grids. The working group will try to study everything as quickly as possible because the devil is always in the detail. But we look forward to trying something new and seeing how it works.”

The 2021 Formula 1 season is schedule to begin March 28 in Bahrain.

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