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Toto Wolff

Wolff calls for 'WWE F1 Sprints' for clear 'stupid race' distinction to Grands Prix

Six Formula 1 sprint events will take place next year as the format enters its fourth season in F1 - but Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff remains unconvinced over their value, and wants drastic changes.

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As was the case during this past Formula 1 season, there will be six Sprint format weekends in 2024.

The Chinese, Miami, Austrian, United States, São Paulo and Qatar Grands Prix will all feature the alternative format which has split opinion since their introduction in 2021.

Further changes are set to be made for next year's format, believed to be focused on moving the sprint qualifying to Friday afternoon, with the Sprint race and Grand Prix qualifying taking place on Saturday.

Some in the paddock have voiced their disapproval over the alternative schedule with the most prominent being three-time World Champion Max Verstappen.

But speaking to select media including RacingNews365 in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff revealed that he too is not a lover of the format.

"We have too many variables at the moment," he says.

"The Sprint weekends in general, I'm not the biggest fan because I think it dilutes the value of the Grand Prix.

"But I can understand that people like it - there's more people that like it than don't. Maybe I'm too purist. Maybe I'm too old school.

"I'd rather have a Grand Prix than a Sprint race weekend. We need to know that a Grand Prix is at two or three o'clock in the afternoon, and that's it.


WWE on Saturday, F1 on Sunday

Also on the agenda are discussions over reverse grid races - something that Wolff states he would favour as it is so far removed from tradition that it would be easier to distinguish it from other race weekends.

"We've done those sprint race weekends, and we are tweaking the format, which I think is positive," he explains.

"I think to a degree you do a Sprint qualifying, you do a Sprint race, you do Grand Prix qualifying, and you do a Grand Prix. That works much better.

"We talked about reverse grid races. I can get my head around a reverse grid Sprint race because at least we are declaring that's the stupid race - six times a year, we're doing something really stupid, and everybody knows to differentiate that.

"There will be other winners and different podiums, that's refreshing. We do WWE on Saturday six times, and then we play Formula 1 24 times on Sunday."

One potential change that has been mooted has been the introduction of a Sprint-only championship, with Wolff declaring his faith in F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to make the right decisions going forward.

"Stefano knows what he's doing because he has all the data in the background," says Wolff.

"I'm questioning myself - too purist, too old school, too stubborn? Maybe.

"So the data shows that there is an interest for the Sprint race weekend, so for me to kind of get my head around, make it really stupid, without distorting the main championship.

"What are we doing with points? That's a different question.

"The different qualifying format with the tyres, there's another variable. I'm not sure. Maybe we do it everywhere. I don't know.

"But there are a few question marks. We just have a few unknowns we have to sort out. Maybe not all at once."

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