Ferrari's Charles Leclerc Cautions F1 About Plans for Sprint Race Qualifying

Global Motorsports Media
·2 min read
Photo credit: Rudy Carezzevoli - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rudy Carezzevoli - Getty Images

From Autoweek

  • Formula 1 has a plan just waiting for final ratification that calls for the starting grid at three races in 2021 to be set by results from a Saturday sprint race.

  • The sprint race format is expected to be tried at Montreal, Monza and Brazil in 2021.

  • Still to be decided is whether or not championship points will also be up for grabs on Saturday.

Formula 1 drivers say that using a sprint race on Saturday to set Sunday's grid is interesting.

It's also a cause for pause.

New F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is determined to finalize the details of the three-weekend trial of a Saturday sprint-race format of setting the Sunday grid. The current plan calls for finishing order of such a sprint race, of yet-to-be-determined length, to set the grid for Sunday's main event. That format is set for a trial run at Montreal, Monza and Brazil in 2021.

"We are very much involved in the talks with Formula 1 and with the FIA," Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said. "It would be fabulous if the races become more unpredictable and therefore more spectacular. If we believe that certain changes will make sport more attractive, then we will vote for it. But we have to look at all the details."

One stumbling block in the discussions is the idea that the sprint race would not only set the Sunday grid but also award championship points to as many as eight top finishers.

Photo credit: Rudy Carezzevoli - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rudy Carezzevoli - Getty Images

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc said, "I think the idea is interesting and we should try something like this. But we have to look at, for example, how to do that in terms of world championship points. The most important thing to me is that the Grand Prix really has to remain the Grand Prix.

"We can't devalue a world championship race with a sprint race."

Leclerc finished eighth in last year's F1 Drivers' Championship standings. He, like others, are concerned that should the same drivers be strongest on both Saturday and Sunday, the extra points could bury some drivers in the standings.

Leclerc's teammate at Ferrari, Carlos Sainz, added, "If we don't try it, we won't find out whether it works. But I agree with Charles. A Grand Prix has to be very special. Is that still the case when we have two winners on one weekend?

"At the same time, I think 2021 is the ideal season to experiment with something like this and then do the right thing for 2022, when we will have a completely new generation of racing cars."