Christian Horner highlights ‘joke’ rule he’d change about Sprint format

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner looks out from the Red Bull pit wall.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner on the pit wall.

Christian Horner has called on Formula 1 to scrap parc fermé rules on Sprint weekends as it’s a “joke” banning the teams from making changes to the cars after Friday’s qualifying.

As the dust settled after last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, which yielded a 15th race win this season for Max Verstappen, Formula 1 was left debating the merits of Sprint weekends.

While it’s fair to say the actual Sprint was anything but exciting, it’s the far-reaching ramifications of the format that have many in the paddock calling for changes.

Christian Horner on the one rule in Sprint weekends that ‘needs looking at’

With all the cars under parc fermé conditions after just one practice hour and Friday’s qualifying many of the teams were left with a less than satisfactory set-up for their cars.

This led to Haas and Aston Martin breaking parc fermé conditions and pulling their cars off the grid to make massive set-up changes ahead of the Grand Prix while hours after the race Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified when their cars failed a post-race inspection.

Both drivers’ planks were found to be less than the minimum 9mm in thickness, Mercedes and Ferrari citing the Sprint format with its one hour of practice as one of the reasons for the excessive wear.

And even though Red Bull were not caught up in the melee, Horner says having the cars in parc ferme as early as Friday is a “joke”.

“For me, parc fermé is a bit of a joke. You have one session to set your car up, and then the engineers may as well go home at that point,” he told the media in Mexico.

“So, that needs looking at and that I’m sure was a contributing factor to the ride height issues of 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.”

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“We should really go to the fans and get their feedback as well. What is it that they want?” Horner continued.

“I think it’d be interesting to look at the data at the end of the year of how popular the sprint race has 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.

“We have to be honest with ourselves at the end of the year when we’ve got all the samples of the sprint races and say: ‘Okay, what can we do better? What can be learned? And how can we improve the spectacle?'”

“If the drivers enjoy it and find it rewarding, and the teams find it rewarding, then I think the fans ultimately will.”

Red Bull’s lead driver Verstappen is also not a fan of Sprints and says never mind tweaking the format, they should be scrapped.

“Like I’ve always said: ‘Why? Why do we need to try and invent something?'” said the reigning World Champion. “Our product works if you just make sure the cars are competitive, and the rules stay the same for a long time. Why are we always inventing new things?

“It almost sounds like craziness (to say) that ‘Oh, we need to come up with something’. Just leave it the same. Why do we suddenly need to come up with other things to try and make it entertaining?

“If you have a good race on your hands with cars close to each other, then you don’t need a Sprint format or weekend.”

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