F1 Sprint World Championship? The unusual proposal involving reserve drivers

Thomas Maher
Austrian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez battle at the start of the Sprint race.

Max Verstappen takes the lead of the Sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Sky F1 commentator David Croft has put forward a suggestion to separate the Sprint format into its own championship.

Introduced in 2021 as an experimental qualifying concept, the Sprint has become its own standalone event for 2023 – F1 hosting a separate qualifying session and 30-minute Sprint race on Saturdays that are separate from the Grand Prix qualifying and race.

But Croft believes the concept could evolve further, to create a completely separate standalone series – one that includes removing the parc ferme stumbling block that has been a compromise through all Grand Prix sprint weekends.

David Croft: Remove the Sprint from the World Championship

Speaking on the Sky F1 podcast, Croft suggested that the Sprint remain part of the sport, but split it off into its own category.

“I think the sprint concept is good, I like it,” he said.

“But I don’t like it being part of the World Championship. I like two separate World Championships. Have your sprint day on a Friday, maybe, rather than a Saturday.

“You could go into Sprint Qualifying and then the Sprint with maybe a 20-minute warm-up in the morning. That’s your Friday.

“Then the cars are not in parc ferme for the rest of the weekend. Then you have your practice session on the Saturday morning, Saturday qualifying, race on Sunday. So you’re keeping the two very separate, for different world championships.”

Croft’s suggestion also included the proposal that, should the main F1 drivers not want to take part, it’d be an ideal opportunity to give junior drivers a chance to shine in top-level machinery.

“If all the drivers don’t want to run in the Sprint World Championship, that’s fine,” he said.

“There are enough reserve drivers that do. Maybe that’s a good way of getting the reserve drivers involved in that. So commercially, that’s what I’d look at.”

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David Croft suggests removal of blue flags

Having already lashed out at the FIA for their involvement in the sport’s rule-making process, Croft had other ideas on how to improve Formula 1 from a spectacle standpoint.

“I think a simplification of the rules, because they’re getting a bit too complicated, we need to find a way to simplify it and just put the show first,” he said.

“Ban blue flags, because, if you’re good enough to be leading a race, you’re good enough to pass another driver not leading the race because they’re last without them having to jump out of the way – it might make things a lot more interesting as well.

“You could do that without any investment in the sport, without any engineering challenges whatsoever. That’s a masterstroke, a stroke of a flag, waving a flag, you could get rid of something that I just think is unnecessary.

“Other motorsport categories don’t have blue flags. But it’s difficult, we have a tradition and heritage in Formula 1 that you don’t want to upset too much. Because there are a fair amount of fans who don’t like the Sprints at all.

“But, maybe, if you had the Sprint at the start, then the rest of the weekend is a Grand Prix weekend, that might overcome that a little bit, and then try not to tinker too much, because, by and large, we’ve got a really good spectacle.”

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