FIA president planning more "homework" on increase in F1 sprint qualifying events
FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem wants to do some more “homework” on the viability of increasing the number of F1 sprints, it has been claimed.
Although the number of sprint qualifying events had been expected to be doubled to six this season, ultimately it remained at last year’s three.
Brazil will stage a sprint for the second consecutive year, whereas Silverstone and Monza will give way to Imola – already won by Max Verstappen – and the Austrian Grand Prix this time around.
From a sporting aspect, Formula 1 themselves are in favour of more sprints, although teams have previously expressed reservations as they thought it could impact on the budget cap as a greater amount of ‘racing’ could lead to more collisions and therefore increased repair costs.
That issue appeared to be resolved, but then at an F1 Commission meeting in April the FIA raised a perceived financial barrier of their own by saying they were “still evaluating the impact on trackside operations and personnel” of an increase in sprint qualifying weekends.
Toto Wolff and Zak Brown, Mercedes team principal and McLaren CEO respectively, believe Ben Sulayem is keen to do more analysis from the FIA’s side before signing off the greater number of sprints.
“I think that scrutiny needs to be given on the decisions we take,” said Wolff. “And I’m sure between Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO] and Mohammed, we will come to a resolution.
“For Mohammed, it was important to hear the FIA’s members’ opinion and he wasn’t against it, just that he needed more time for that decision.”
Brown added: “We tried to get six sprint races off last year, which obviously didn’t happen for this year.
“I think all the teams voted in favour of six sprint races – now we’ve seen the data which tells us it creates more fan awareness, and that’s what I think is most important in growing the sport, how do our fans respond when we try new activities?
“And as Toto said, Mohammed voiced he just wanted to do some more homework. I think maybe the FIA and Formula 1 in a forum like that maybe should align on whatever position they have before those meetings, but I’m sure it will be sorted out.”
Regarding Brown’s latter point, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said: “It’s good that all the governing bodies are making sure they are fully aligned because once you get there, you cannot really pull back.
“So I think it’s nice we are working properly, we will have a bit of a debate and a bit of homework until we get to an alignment and we just go for it. So it’s just a matter of time, I guess.”
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