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Formula 1

Sprint races in Formula 1: Good or bad?

Formula 1 in recent years has been accused of being both boring and predictable. In an effort to spice up the show, the possibility of a sprint race has been touted. Here's our take on why sprint races may not be the best way forward for the sport.

Article
To news overview © Mercedes

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali recently told RacingNews365.com that sprint races could be something Formula 1 implements during the coming season. The format would be quite straightforward, a qualifying session on Friday would determine the grid for a sprint race on Saturday, while the results of the sprint race will determine the grid for Sunday. The possible locations for the experiment would be in Canada, Brazil, and Italy.

This format might seem sound in principle, however, there are certain factors worth taking into consideration.

The actual spectacle

Will the sprint races actually spice up the racing? Given that the qualifying order will pretty much mean that teams like Mercedes and Red Bull will lock out the front rows of the grid, the results may not drastically change.

Yes, the teams will no longer have tyre strategies to rely on, but without a reverse grid determining Sunday's grid, the standard expectation would be a Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes win on Saturday and again on Sunday, if the status quo remains.

Isolating the purists

A lot of what the sport is trying to do feels forced especially to the traditionalists who have been following the sport for a while. The introduction of DRS is the best example one could use to illustrate this point.

Formula 1 unsuccessfully tried tinkering with the qualifying format in 2016 before ultimately settling on the current system of elimination.

Perhaps it would be prudent to go with the mantra of, "If it ain't broke don't fix it."


Cost

The idea of having two races will naturally increase the chances of crashes. This means teams, especially the ones in the midfield, would be forced to allocate a larger portion of their financial resources to procuring spares.

This would be against the philosophy of the cost-saving measures put in place and would once again place the burden on the teams qualifying towards the middle and back of the grid.

However, this might conversely improve Liberty Media's television revenue from the sport as more races would likely mean better value and increased sponsorship.

Points

The last time Formula 1 tried altering the points system it was met with criticism from all sides. While handing out points to the top eight finishers of a sprint race is far less controversial than F1's double points for the last race gimmick in 2014, the potential is there to once again hamper the teams fighting in the midfield rather than at the front.

Conclusion

Given the above, it would be highly unlikely that sprint races have the desired effect on the sport. While the categories below F1, namely F2 and F3, use this two-race format over a race weekend, they also use the reverse grid system that adds more to the spectacle.

While it is no doubt noble that Formula 1 are trying different things to improve the experience for the spectator, maybe the addition of sprint races isn't the best way to go.

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