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Domenicali Advocates for More F1 Sprint Races

F1 to Boost Thrills with More Sprint Races

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali suggests adding more Sprint races to enhance track action and spectator engagement, as the sport evolves under Liberty Media’s ownership.

Domenicali suggested that more Sprint races might be added to the schedule, a point of discussion for the future.

With six Sprint race weekends scheduled for 2024, Shanghai hosted the first Sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The 19-lap race was won by Max Verstappen, who moved his Red Bull from fourth on the grid to the front, with a thrilling battle for the other podium places.

The Sprint race format was first introduced in 2021, taking place over three races, and expanding to six by 2024, with various adjustments and changes aimed at enhancing the spectacle.

Domenicali spoke about the excitement in Shanghai as the sport returned to China for the first time since 2019.

“I think it was great. It’s beautiful to see after many years of not being here, for reasons we know,” the Italian said, referring to Covid.

“Seeing such passion from the fans, from the younger generation, as we see all over the world, and it was magical to see the drivers being cheered on here. So it’s great and beautiful to see that F1 is popular in China with full stands.”

“Even for the Sprint qualifications, under incredible conditions, we had a lot of runs. This reminds us that we have a duty to ensure there is action on the track every day, to respect the fans who come here, because we want to have fun.”

When asked if this was his argument for introducing more Sprint races, further evolving the weekend format that has become increasingly common under Liberty Media’s ownership, Domenicali laughed: “Why not? Why not?”

“I would say it’s great because it keeps the tension every day.”

“This is something we will discuss in the future. For now, let’s see how this year goes for the Sprints with the way we have rearranged the timing during the weekend and we will see how to move forward in 2025. But it’s a topic of discussion, for sure.”

Domenicali cited the example of what is not desired, like what happened last time in Japan when rain fell during practice—leading to almost no action on track Friday afternoon, with teams and drivers choosing not to take risks on a wet track.

The Sprint format would prevent such situations from occurring, as drivers need to qualify and race.

“What I want to discuss within the F1 Commission is that we must avoid any possibility of having the situation we had in Japan with cars not running.”

“It’s not good for the people who come to see us, to see the drivers. I’m sure the teams will understand. So, we need to find solutions, and it doesn’t necessarily involve setting up a Sprint weekend systematically. But we have a duty to ensure there is action on the track every day. Out of respect for the fans who come here.”

Dr. Helmut Marko, consultant for Red Bull, sees both sides of the debate, especially since the energy drink company is paying extra this year to host the sprint format at the Austrian GP.

“It’s simply a bonus for the spectators and thus for the organizer that the fans are offered qualifying on Friday and a race on Saturday. From a sporting perspective, I am rather a fan of the traditional process. So as an organizer, yes. As a racing fan? No.”

Finally, Marko indicated that he had no major complaints about the proposal to extend the points system to the top 12 of a race for 2025, which will be debated this Thursday at the F1 Commission.

“It’s because a two-class society has developed. If the drivers from the top five teams have no technical problems and Mr. (Lance) Stroll has a normal day, the other five teams score no points.”

“The cost cap has brought the field closer together, which leads to extremely exciting multi-faceted battles in the middle of the pack. This should be rewarded in some way.”

Domenicali Advocates for More F1 Sprint Races

Domenicali Advocates for More F1 Sprint Races. Domenicali Advocates for More F1 Sprint Races

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