Martin Brundle highlights sprint weekend ‘disconnect’ which ‘doesn’t feel right’

Thomas Maher
Sky F1 punfit Martin Brundle at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Martin Brundle speaks on the grid.

Martin Brundle believes the Sprint format in its current state creates a ‘disconnect’ during a race weekend that “doesn’t feel right” for people who like to watch live.

Despite the tweaks made to the Sprint format for 2023, Martin Brundle believes there is still some work needed in order to fix an issue he’s identified.

When first introduced, the Sprint format used Friday qualifying to determine the starting order for the Sprint – an additional practice session, under parc ferme conditions, then being held on Saturday morning before the results of the Sprint determined the grid order for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Martin Brundle: Relentless action, but Sprint format creates disconnect

For this season, the format used for Sprint weekends sees Saturday’s action serve as a self-contained event in itself.

Friday practice is used to decide a setup before being put into parc ferme conditions for the evening Qualifying session – the results of which are used to decide the grid for Sunday’s race. Saturday then hosts its own qualifying session for the Sprint, before the 100-kilometre race in the evening.

But the fact that Sunday’s grid order is determined on Friday evenings doesn’t sit quite right with Brundle, as the Sky F1 broadcaster explained in his post-race column.

“The disconnect of having qualifying on Friday afternoon for the race on Sunday doesn’t feel right to me, and likely precludes a good number of people who like to watch qualifying live from doing so,” he said.

With the Sprint format being used at an increasing number of race weekends since its introduction in 2021, Brundle said the increase of sessions that have an effect on the competitive aspect of a weekend is something that needs long-term assessment.

“The Sprint format undoubtedly makes for a relentless weekend of meaningful action in Formula 1,” he said.

“Whether you can have too much of a good thing only the fans will decide, but the audience numbers I see, having four of the five F1 track sessions generating a definitive and meaningful result, suggest that it’s popular.” recommends

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What other options are there for a Sprint weekend?

The idea of making the Sprint aspect of a weekend separate is, in theory, a good one – fans can completely miss the running on Saturday and pick up the story from Friday when they return for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

But, with the Sprint format clearly an option that is being pushed by Formula 1, how can it be improved? The most obvious would be to host the Sprint Shootout on Friday evening, and then the Sprint itself on Saturday morning – serving as an appetiser for the main qualifying on Saturday afternoon/evening.

This would remove the standalone element of the Sprint, but would return the format to the ‘ramping up’ dynamic that the current format lacks.

Another idea could be to enforce parc ferme rules for the Sprint Shootout and Sprint, but open it up entirely for the main qualifying session – closing it again once Q3 begins. This would allow the teams the chance to rectify setup issues identified during the Sprint, but the fact it can only be rectified during a competitive session would mean making the tough choice between accepting their compromised setup, or trying to fix it with only limited time and laps to ensure the right calls are made.

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