‘Why not?’ – Stefano Domenicali hints at more Sprint race weekends amid Japanese GP concern

Thomas Maher

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has hinted more Sprint races could be on the way as a “point of discussion” for the future.

Formula 1 is holding its first Sprint race format of the 2024 season in China, with the Sprint on Saturday proving to be a thriller.

Stefano Domenicali: It’s a point of discussion, for sure

With six Sprint race weekends scheduled in 2024, Shanghai hosted the first of the Sprint races on Saturday of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

The 19-lap race was won by Max Verstappen, who hauled his Red Bull from fourth on the grid to carve his way to the front, with a thrilling battle over the other podium positions.

The Sprint race format was first introduced in 2021, being held at three races, increasing to six for 2024 as the format has gone through various tweaks and changes in bids to improve the spectacle.

Speaking to Sky F1 after the Sprint in China, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali spoke of the excitement that has been on display in Shanghai as the sport has returned to China for the first time since 2019 and before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s been great so far. Beautiful to see after many years not being here, for reasons that we know,” the Italian said.

“To see such a passion from fans, the younger generation, as we see all around the world, and magic to see the cheering for the drivers here.

“So that’s great and beautiful to see.

“Also for the qualifying sprint in incredible conditions, we had a lot of runs. That reminds us that we have the duty to make sure that, every day, there is some action on the track, to respect the fans that are coming here, because we want to have fun.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

2024 Chinese Grand Prix – Sprint race results (Shanghai)

Asked whether this was his argument for more Sprint races to be introduced, further evolving the weekend format that has become increasingly common under Liberty Media’s ownership, Domenicali laughed: “Why not? Why not?

“I would say this is great because it keeps the tension on every day.”

“This is something that we’ll discuss in the future. Now, let’s say, let’s see how this year with the Sprint with the way that we have and see how we go.

“But that’s a point of discussion, for sure.”

Domenicali pointed to the example of what is not desired, as what happened last time out in Japan when rain fell during practice – resulting in almost no track running on Friday afternoon as the teams and drivers opted against taking risks on a wet track.

The Sprint format would prevent situations like this from happening, due to drivers needing to qualify and race, rather than optionally driving in order to get some practice in.

“What I want to discuss in the F1 Commission – we need to avoid any possibility like the situation we had in Japan with cars not running,” he said.

“This is not good for the people that are coming to see us, to see the drivers. I’m sure that the teams will understand. So we need to find solutions.”

Read Next: Chinese GP: Max Verstappen pounces on Lewis Hamilton mistake to win the Sprint