Domenicali enjoys Hamilton/Max battle for ‘supremacy’

Date published: July 27 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has no concerns for the course of the title battle despite Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s Silverstone crash.

From the moment the two title protagonists collided on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix, the debate simply has not settled over who was at fault and how it will impact the title race moving forward.

And while Domenicali does not want to see such incidents keep cropping up, he is glad to see Hamilton and Verstappen taking the fight to each other to assert their dominance.

“No, on the contrary I’m happy to see a championship where the protagonists want to demonstrate their supremacy,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport when asked if he feared the rest of the title race being marred by controversy and accidents.

“The fact there is this kind of sporting tension is part of the game. We are talking about teams and drivers who are able to control strong emotional moments.

“Then, of course, I hope there will be hard-fought races until the last corner but that such episodes won’t happen again.”

At Silverstone, Formula 1 debuted its new sprint qualifying format, a 17-lap race which was used to determine the grid for the British Grand Prix.

The traditional qualifying format was also in use, but that was brought forward to Friday and set the starting order for sprint qualifying.

In general, the feedback has been positive with Domenicali confirming the team principals are “in favour 100 per cent” of the format. The reception among the American audience in particular was a “great success”.

One of the main talking points though was the decision to award pole for the British Grand Prix to the winner of sprint qualifying, rather than the driver with the fastest time over one lap on Friday.

“The concept of pole position based on a single lap is in the history of F1, but things can be changed,” Domenicali responded.

“Think about the Halo, how many people were against it. Today, nobody dares to question it anymore. It’s an evaluation we are making.

“Anyway, I liked F1’s desire to try something new.”

Monza has been confirmed as the next venue where sprint qualifying will take place, while Interlagos, if the Brazilian Grand Prix goes ahead, is expected to be the third and final trial event in 2021.

Should Formula 1 use sprint qualifying beyond this season, it is expected to be only at selected rounds, although Domenicali would not say no to rolling it out across the calendar if the desire was there.

“In my mind, there is a desire to promote special events with the qualifying race that can be enhanced with special prizes, but if there is the conviction that this format should be applied all the time I have nothing against it,” he confirmed.

“We will evaluate it at the end of the year. There is no hurry.”

Sprint qualifying

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The Brazilian Grand Prix is not the only race later in the year under threat, with the Japanese Grand Prix also in jeopardy.

There is already a spare slot on the calendar after Australia backed out of hosting an Australian Grand Prix on November 21.

Qatar was mentioned recently as a possible replacement for Australia, but Domenicali said a second race in Bahrain is more likely.

Either way, he plans to have the second half of the calendar sorted out by mid-August.

“There’s more talk of another GP in Bahrain,” he said when asked about the prospect of a Qatar Grand Prix.

“But I hope to confirm everything by mid-August. I won’t hide the fact Japan is also under observation.”