Szafnauer suggests fan survey on sprint qualifying format

Jamie Woodhouse
Valtteri Bottas leads during sprint qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix. Monza September 2021.

Valtteri Bottas leads the field in the early stages down the pits straight during sprint qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix. Monza September 2021.

Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer believes that the fans should be asked directly for their views on the sprint qualifying format.

The 100km Saturday sprint race, which is used to determine the grid for a grand prix, has been trialled for the first time in 2021, debuting in Silverstone before a second appearance at Monza.

The final staging of sprint qualifying in 2021 is set to take place at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

From there the concept is expected to expand to more rounds of the 2022 season, but before that Formula 1 will sit down with the teams to discuss any areas of concern and possible tweaks.

This is a process which Szafnauer hopes will also include the fans, suggesting they are surveyed for their views on sprint qualifying.

“I think we’ve got another one coming up in Brazil and thereafter we will have seen three different tracks and make a decision on the future, whether the benefit on a Friday outweighs some of the traditions that we usually have on Saturday,” said Szafnauer during a press conference.

“I think also it’s only fair that we listen to the fans. Perhaps do a bit of a fan survey to understand if the fans both at the circuit and at home watching TV, which they prefer.

“I think we should listen to the fans and, if it’s more popular with them, then we should do more of them.”

Valtteri Bottas leads through the first chicane during Italian GP sprint qualifying. Monza September 2021.
Valtteri Bottas leads the field through the first chicane during Italian Grand Prix sprint qualifying. Monza September 2021.

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The sprint qualifying debut at Silverstone was met with largely positive feedback, but Monza was less successful with the event providing little overtaking.

So Szafnauer feels it is important to see how the last trial goes in Brazil and then make an overall decision.

“I think they were different. Silverstone to me was a bit better but that’s the first time we did that,” said Szafnauer when asked for this thoughts on the Silverstone and Monza sprints.

“I think on Saturday, there isn’t as much overtaking as we would hope. I think people just settle in and that’s what you end up with.

“So, let’s see what happens in Brazil and then having a backwards look at everything and see if we’re going to do it in the future.”


Ferrari racing director Laurent Makies agrees with Szafnauer that Sprint Qualifying could do with producing more overtaking, but feels the altered and more busy race weekend format is positive for the fans.

“Similar thinking here. I think Silverstone and Monza went very well from this new racing format,” he said.

“I think it put all of us on quite a bit of a more intense programme on a Friday and hopefully it has been received well by the fans at the track or behind the TV, so I think it’s good to have a more exciting Friday, then Saturday, Sunday.

“Yes, as Otmar said, you probably want to have a bit more overtaking but I think altogether it produces a very intense weekend and it’s probably – hopefully – what the fans want to see.”


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