Todt no fan of sprint qualifying: ‘I don’t think F1 needs it’
FIA president Jean Todt believes that Formula 1 doesn’t need to rely on a novel concept such as sprint qualifying, but the Frenchman has always been open to trialing the idea.
Next month’s British Grand Prix will see a historic change to the weekend’s format, with FP2 on Friday replaced by a qualifying session that will determine the grid for a sprit race on Saturday afternoon that will itself form the grid for Sunday’s race.
F1 plans on trialing the format at two other venues this season, one of which will likely be Monza.
The concept was tabled last winter and favorably voted upon by the teams as an full scale experiment to gauge the F1 fan community and the broadcasters’ interest.
Todt admitted that he wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea from the outset and insisted that the Saturday mad dash not be called “a race” in order to help safeguard the value of Sunday’s show.
“Number one, we don’t call that a race,” Todt said at the French GP. “I had part of the responsibility of not calling that a race.
“For me the race is on Sunday. If you ask me if I’m a big fan of that, the answer is no.
“I don’t think F1 needs it. But on the other side, if people want to try something, it’s not going to hurt the race on Sunday.
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“It will be a different way of having a starting grid on Sunday. So it costs nothing to try.
“I’m curious to see what will come out. But I’m sure that it will not damage the race on Sunday.
“People may say it was more interesting on Saturday than on Sunday, but that’s not too big a risk for the image and for the credibility of the of the championship.”
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Reflecting more broadly on F1 and on how the sport has negotiated the past twelve months marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, Todt praised the “remarkable” job done by the entire F1 community.
“We all know that we are going through a difficult time,” said the Frenchman who will retire at the helm of the FIA at the end of the year.
“And I think the job everybody has been contributing to make all that happening is absolutely remarkable.
“I usually say that it’s in difficult times that you see the strength together, and I think it has been the result of a combination since we restarted the championship last July, almost one year ago.
“This week, we should not be should not have been here, incidentally, it should have been next week. We are going to face three grands prix in a row. Every time it has been a problem, a solution has been found.”
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