Lewis Hamilton singles out a major flaw in F1 Sprint change suggestion

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen takes the lead of the Sprint race at the FIA F1 Brazilian Grand Prix.

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

Lewis Hamilton, amongst others, has weighed in with some ideas on how the Sprint race format can be improved.

The current Sprint format has come under the spotlight in recent weeks, due to the lack of excitement the format is offering fans and drivers due to it following the same format as a normal Grand Prix weekend, albeit with one condensed day of action on Saturday to hold a separate qualifying session and short race.

While there is a general consensus amongst paddock members that the format needs tweaking, nothing solid has yet been proposed – but Lewis Hamilton has an idea on how the action could be spiced up, even if that idea presents its own pitfalls.

Lewis Hamilton suggests idea to tweak Sprint format

The seven-time F1 World Champion was asked for his thoughts on the current Sprint format when he appeared in the press conference ahead of the weekend at Interlagos.

“Saturday’s not the greatest of days, but I like the single practice session straight into qualifying,” he said.

“I think we can learn. I love that we do have a different format, rather than just the same three practice sessions and then the qualifying and the race.

“But the best Sprint race I ever had was when I started last and so I’m in favour of the reverse order, except if we had that then everyone would just try and qualify last! But I think it maybe should be a little bit longer – the Sprint race – because it’s something like 19 laps or something.”

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, sitting alongside Hamilton in the press conference, said he wouldn’t like to see any further race weekends handed over to the running of a Sprint event.

“I think right now, six is enough,” he said.

“I agree that Saturday’s too revealing of what’s going to happen on Sunday. It is basically the first stint of the race of Sunday, what you’re watching on TV, and this doesn’t help, I think, the show for the main race which is the Grand Prix.

“So you arrive to the point, you’d better try something else on Saturday. Is that reverse grids? Is that single lap qualifying? Is that… whatever, I don’t know.

“But I think given that the Sprint format is a bit of an experiment going on right now in Formula 1, I would be open to keep experimenting to see which format is best because for me the one we have now, just Saturday, doesn’t feel completely right for what then comes on Sunday.”

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Charles Leclerc indicated his support for the Sprint format, but agreed that six race weekends is probably enough over the course of a season.

“I quite like it. I like the fact of having only one free practice session,” he said.

“I don’t think we should have more than six Sprint weekends in a year. I think six is good. But to have one free practice and go straight to qualifying is something I enjoy.

“I think the Saturday could be changed and improved but I really like the Friday, to not have three free practice sessions is really long and sometimes it can get a bit boring. We always go through the same programme. So I like the fact of having only one free practice and go straight to the action with qualifying.”

Max Verstappen has been a vocal critic of the Sprint ever since its introduction, making his feelings clear on the topic when asked how he’d improve the Saturday spectacle.

“Just a normal race weekend please, thank you,” he said. “I’m not interested in any change, I don’t like it.”

Another driver not in support is one of the rookies, with Logan Sargeant saying the format prevents the less experienced drivers from finding their feet at a circuit they may not be familiar with.

“For me, it’s not preferred,” he said.

“I think one, as a rookie, it’s nice to have the three practice sessions. But on top of that, I just feel like Saturday is a bit of a standalone day that doesn’t offer a whole lot, if you’re not in the top eight. So I prefer a normal weekend.”

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