Friday, April 16, 2021

Verstappen and Perez unsure F1 needs ‘risky’ sprint races

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F1 is currently evaluating the introduction of sprint races on the Saturday of three events this year, running a 100km race that would set the grid for the Sunday grand prix.

The plan received “broad support” from teams at the latest F1 Commission meeting, with further details currently being outlined by a working group.

Officials have identified races in Canada, Italy and Brazil as being the trial events for sprint races in 2021.

The proposals have received lukewarm support from drivers so far, with Red Bull duo Verstappen and Perez becoming the latest drivers to air their uncertainty over the idea.

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Perez previously experienced a sprint race when he was racing in GP2 in 2010, and although he was open to the plan for F1, he stressed the importance of protecting the series’ DNA.

“I just think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t lose the DNA of Formula 1,” Perez said when asked by Motorsport.com for his thoughts on the plan.

“I think it’s a very thin line. It’s a bit risky. I’m open to it.

“I don’t know what to expect really, how it will change the format in Formula 1 once we’ve done it. For me, the most important thing is that F1 keeps with the DNA.”

Verstappen was similarly cautious in discussing the plan, saying that if drivers were able to race each other closely and have greater competition at the front of the pack, there would be no need for the sprint events.

“It’s not necessarily about more racing [on a weekend],” Verstappen said.

“I quite like doing a one-and-a-half-hour race, because if we have good cars like we can race closely and more teams are able to fight for victory, you don’t need sprint races.

“I think we don’t need to really mix it up that much the whole programme. We just need to make sure that you fight for the win.”

Under the proposal, qualifying would still take place under the existing format, running on Friday to set the grid for the sprint race on Saturday.

The working group is set to report its findings back to the FIA and F1 in the coming weeks, with a decision then due to be taken before the start of the new season in Bahrain at the end of March.

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