Carlos Sainz calls for huge change to spice up F1 sprint weekends

Henry Valantine
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, celebrates pole. Italy, September 2023.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, celebrates pole with a finger in the air. Italy, September 2023.

Carlos Sainz would like to see F1 sprints take place with reverse championship order grids, to spice up the racing on Saturdays.

Sprints have been a divisive topic since they were introduced in Formula 1, with some enjoying the mixed-up format and others preferring the traditional practice, qualifying and race from Friday through to Sunday.

The format has been tweaked for 2023, now operating on their own standalone day of a race weekend with their own separate qualifying session and race, but Sainz would go further in how they are run.

Carlos Sainz suggests huge sprint change, and claims ‘a few drivers have asked for it’

With the idea being that instead of the main Grand Prix having a “spoiler” attached by the first third of it being run to a qualifying session on merit, which does not differ too wildly from the main session, Sainz would throw it up into the air altogether and mix up the grid completely.

He feels it would make the racing much more entertaining throughout the field, while with points on the line for the top 10 instead of the top eight, those in backmarking cars at the front of the field will defend for their lives as they search for precious points in the Constructors’ Championship.

But, on top of that, he feels doing that would be “really good fun” for all involved.

“I have an idea. I would still do the sprint weekends, [in] a reverse championship order grid,” Sainz told P1 with Matt and Tommy.

“Just imagine. Let’s say Max starting last, the Ferraris starting P16 or 14th, 13th. The whole field would be closing on each other.

“And if you put points up until P10, I would be starting P14 saying ‘I can get to top 10 or top five’, Max starting from P20 would believe he can get to the top 10 with a Red Bull.

“Everyone who is starting P8, they might be the only points they get in the whole year, not this year, because everyone’s getting points, but in other years, you would be holding on to that P1, P2, P3 for your life.

“So the racing that you would get that day would be incredible, and it doesn’t affect the rest of the weekend, you still have the main race that everyone cares about, but you have that race on Saturday to talk about something else.

“There’s a few drivers that have asked for it. Like we’ve said, if you really want the sprint weekend to make it interesting and to make the sprint race different, why don’t we try this? recommends

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“What I find sometimes with the sprint race, is that it’s the first third of the race. You’re getting what’s going to happen on Sunday.

“So it’s a spoiler of the of the main race because it’s exactly the stint length, and probably even the tyre that we’re going to start on Sunday.

“So you’re going to get a race simulation of what is actually the race on Sunday that everyone has always: ‘Let’s see what happens, is the tyre is gonna degrade? Are there Ferraris going to be quick? Are Mercedes gonna be fast? Is the Red Bull going to dominate?’

“Saturday at the moment, unfortunately, gives you that insight into what Sunday is going to be looking like.

“While if it’s a reverse grid, there’s so much going on, so much overtaking that no-one settles into a pace. Everyone’s going to be overtaking after overtaking and really having some good fun.”

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