Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has outlined the positive and negative consequences of Formula 1 making changes to its race weekend format.
Sprint races have been a topic of conversation since they made their F1 debut in 2021, throwing a spanner in the works and disrupting the established structure of race weekends.
These format variations have been met with mixed reactions, although it seems unlikely that Sprint races will be leaving the calendar any time soon.
A total of six Sprint races will take place in 2023, an increase from the three races in 2021 and 2021 – an indication of the trend that F1’s decision-makers will likely follow.
Some fans have criticised the growing number of changes being introduced, suggesting that alterations to the race weekend format sacrifice the sporting integrity of F1 for entertainment.
Even then, the recent Sprint races have not always produced the action many anticipated – leading to question marks about the practicality of trying to manufacture more action.
In any case, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has outlined his perspective on further changes:
“Two qualifying sessions, per se, is not something that’s bad,” Speedcafe quotes him as saying.
“In qualifying, you have less opportunity to put the car in the wall, but with two races, which we always knew, there is more at risk.
“And back-to-back with Miami, that can be a problem…
“I think you know I’m on the conservative side, that I like qualifying and the Grand Prix.
“But you also have to be open-minded about where the sport is going to go, and some of the Sprint races have been fantastic, so whatever Stafeno [Domenicali] decides is good.”
The upcoming Sprint races in 2023 will provide an interesting data set for the efficacy of these new changes and how they are received by fans and competitors.
However, there are very few scenarios – if any – where F1 will decide to make a U-turn and reverse its push to integrate Sprint races into the race weekend structure.