Todt: Saturday FP2 ‘makes no sense’ on sprint race weekends
FIA president Jean Todt says he’s “perplexed” by the inclusion of a Saturday practice session on F1’s sprint race weekends, insisting the track time “makes no sense” for the sport’s fans.
F1 rolled out its second sprint race trial at Monza, having introduced the new format for the first time earlier this summer at Silverstone.
Drivers qualify late on Friday afternoon for the 30-minute Saturday race. But the event is preceding by a mid-day final practice session.
Todt disputes the usefulness and entertainment value of FP2 as cars are put under a virtual parc fermé regimen the day before ahead of qualifying, with settings therefore set in stone.
“For the moment this [sprint] format leaves me a bit perplexed over what happens between 12pm and 1pm on Saturday morning,” Todt told the media at Monza.
“This free practice hour is not understandable to the public nor the media. It can only be of interest to the teams to collect information, for example on tyre wear.
“From the point of view of the show, it makes no sense.”
F1 will conduct its final sprint race trial in Brazil in November and then undertake a comprehensive assessment of the format before deciding if the idea will be extended into 2022, and added to the schedule of a greater number of races.
Although’s Monza sprint event was a processional affair, with few overtakes, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali remains enthusiastic over the idea.
“You may argue on the fact that the sprint was not so interesting, but at the end of the day, we had an incredible start, something happened, and you see that there is a McLaren on the front row,” said Domenicali.
“As we always said we’re going to do the debrief at the end of the third session – that’s going to be in Brazil – and see what type of things that we can bring on.
“But I think what we are doing is absolutely the right thing.”
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In the driver’s camp, Williams’ George Russell felt that the 100 km sprint event is too short and doesn’t allow dirvers take advantage of a tyre delta to shake up the running order.
“My feeling is the sprint is too short,” said Russell. “The cars are pretty much driving flat-out every single lap and it doesn’t offer enough opportunity between the cars to be able to overtake.
“Normally when you see overtaking it’s because of a tyre delta. If everybody goes out there, Mercedes and Red Bull are within a few tenths, then McLaren and the next cars are within a few tenths and so on and so on.
“You only get that overtaking opportunity with the tyre delta and 100 kilometre race didn’t give you that opportunity.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suggested a more radical approach to the Saturday mad dash, with the Monegasque among the few drivers that wouldn’t mind seeing a reverse grid start to the event.
“It wasn’t a very exciting race, but I still feel like there’s been a bit of action in the first few corners,” he said.
“But let’s say that everyone is in the right pecking order like this. The fastest cars are in the front, the slowest cars in the back. So it’s very difficult to make up some positions if we have a sprint race that is very different.
“What I mean by very different is why not the reverse grid of the championship? Then we might see quite a bit more action. In a race like this, obviously, it was quite difficult to follow in front.”
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