George Russell believes mandatory soft tyres and a few extra laps would be a good way to improve the spectacle on sprint weekends in Formula 1.
The latest sprint took place at the Red Bull Ring over the weekend and opinion remains split around the action it adds to a race, with the 100km dashes coming with their own separate qualifying session, the ‘sprint shootout’, on a Saturday morning to make sprints self-contained within race weekends.
The number of sprints has doubled from three to six for the 2023 season, but Russell still feels the format could be fine-tuned further to improve the action.
George Russell suggests mandatory soft tyres to spice up sprints
With the races taking place over one-third distance, in dry conditions the drivers often opt to take medium compound tyres for the sprints to guarantee they won’t need a pit stop, and can push on their tyres during the sprints.
But the Mercedes driver thinks that putting everybody on mandatory soft tyres in dry conditions would add a tyre management variable in there, that would add a bit more action, as well as a few more laps of action.
While the sprint brought plenty of entertainment in wet-dry conditions in Austria at the weekend, Russell thinks that without the intervention of rain, it ran the risk of being relatively processional.
“I think the sprint race is an interesting one – I still feel like it’s too short,” Russell explained to Sky Sports F1.
“I think in a normal circumstance, just dry conditions, it would have been a pretty boring race.
“I think something like, you know, mandating the soft tyre for the sprint race and, you know, a bit more tyre deg – you’ve got to think about it more, a bit more action.
“At the moment, you’ll put the medium [on], you’re just flat out the whole race in a DRS train and there would have been nothing you could do.”
Russell was the first driver onto slicks in the sprint on Saturday and managed to gain a point in eighth place, and crossed the line in the same position on Sunday before being promoted above team-mate Lewis Hamilton when a swathe of penalties were given for track limits breaches, hours after the chequered flag dropped.
He acknowledged he has not been in the best run of form of late, however, and said he is already looking ahead to his home race to try and bring a bit of a resurgence after a promising start to the year.
“It’s been a tricky few races for me personally, not feeling super happy with the car, especially yesterday [in qualifying],” Russell said.
“Today was a much more positive day, it was obviously, again, a shame we didn’t get a chance to progress in quali with the problem we had.
“But looking forward to Silverstone already to start a full weekend, fresh start, go again and try and get some form back.”