Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has taken aim at the "joke" parc fermé regulations during F1 Sprint weekends after the disqualification controversy at the United States Grand Prix and believes fans should now be asked about the format's future.
Teams have only one practice session under the alternative weekend format to prepare their cars and set-ups before heading into qualifying under parc fermé conditions, with any changes after this point triggering a pit lane start for the race.
But with sub-optimal set-ups, boring races and technical infringements can arise: there was little action in the Sprint on Saturday before four cars opted to start from the pits on Sunday after making a number of tweaks.
But the biggest controversy was the decision to disqualify Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc for excessive skid-block wear. Whilst the decision was correct under the regulations, the fact only four cars were checked, despite 50 per cent of those coming up as illegal, left a sour taste for many.
"For me, parc fermé is a bit of a joke," said Horner, addressing the issue when speaking to media including RacingNews365.com.
"You get one session to set your car up and then the engineers may as well go home at that point. So that needs looking at and that I'm sure was a contributing factor to the ride height issues that the teams that fell foul of the regulations.
"Effectively, it's just a long run on a Sprint race and there's no real jeopardy to it, there's no real incentive behind it and I think it just needs to be looked at and modified to say, ‘OK, how can it be improved? How can we make this better? How can it be more satisfying for the drivers?’
"If the drivers enjoy it and find it rewarding, and the teams find it rewarding, then I think the fans ultimately will. But I think we should really go to the fans and get their feedback, as well, of what is it that they want?"
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Horner: F1 fans should be asked
The rhetoric around the introduction of Sprints in 2021 was to give more racing action to the fans instead of the three practice sessions that typically precede qualifying on a regular weekend.
With this in mind, Horner explained: "I think it'd be interesting to look at the data at the end of the year of how popular have the Sprint races been because at the end of the day, it's all about the fans.
"The reason we do Sprint races is to try and provide more entertainment, to create a more attractive event. And I think that it's still a very new concept and I think we have to be honest with ourselves. Like I was just talking about the car where we can always improve the car, I think we can always improve the format.
"I think we need to look openly and honestly at the end of the year, when we've got all the samples of these Sprint races and say ok, what can we do better? What can be learned? And how can we improve the spectacle and the event? And I think there's many things that could be done to improve it."