Hamilton appears confused by new Sprint format

In Formula One it is regularly the case that “all is not as it seems” and it appears this will be the case this weekend as the teams digest the last minute implications for the change in format.

As has been the case for Sprint weekends, Friday morning will be a practice session followed by qualifying on Friday afternoon. This session now sets the grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday instead of for the Sprint race.



Teams wholesale workload changes

The starting order for the Sprint will now be set in a truncated qualifying session on Saturday morning which replaces the original practice two track time.

Sprint qualifying has new tyre allocation rules which means the drivers must run the medium compound in Q1 and Q2 with the soft compound for the Q3 runners.

This will require the teams to work in a wholly different fashion to maximise their opportunities for the entire weekend.

One positive result should be the teams will need to maximise the Friday one hour of practice time and so the circuit will be busier than usual as the engineers try to learn as much as possible in just 60 minutes.

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Practice 1 will now be very busy

Mercedes track side boss, Ron Meadows (Sporting Director) believes the new weekend format will be a challenge and the crews will need to be on their toes with the added pressure of another competitive on track session.

“The new format won’t cause massive changes to how the garage personnel operate over the weekend,” explained Meadows.

“However, when you add sessions that require 100 percent attack from the drivers and every lap matters to advance through to the next stage, you always run the risk of a crash.

“It will be very tricky for the engineers and drivers to find the optimum set-up for both qualifying and heavy race fuel trim.

“We will need to maximise the number of laps in FP1, so we likely won’t be planning on making set-up changes that sap running time for the drivers.

“It’s a new way of working for all the teams and provides a fair amount of opportunity to excel.”



Hamilton appears confused by options

Lewis Hamilton was asked for his thoughts on the new racing weekend format but the F1 star appeared not to be enthused by the revisions.

“I don’t think it makes a lot of difference now.

“Before, where you finished was where you qualified for the race. Now it is a practice session but there are points at the end of it.

The seven times world champion appeared to be confused by the reasons behind the changes, suggesting more running may have been more beneficial whilst simultaneously citing environmental concerns. 

“There is a lot of time where we can do more running and we always talk about what’s the best in terms of the environment…”

“I don’t know if it would be better for the fans but there is a huge break between these sessions and we could be doing more running, if that was better for the fans.”

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Multiple quick laps to qualify

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin believes the new format will result in more on track action for the fans, which leaves Hamilton appearing confused.

In addition to a busier practice session on the Friday, Shovlin believes the new tyre restricted qualifying for the Sprint will force the teams to switch their methodology.

The shorter qualifying session and restricted tyre allocation should force the drivers to try multiple-lap runs rather than the usual single lap efforts.



Sprint qualifying will look quite different 

“The drivers will go straight into a qualifying session on Saturday, which is very unusual,” commented Shovlin.

“It’s a tall order to expect the drivers to deliver a single-lap performance immediately so I suspect everyone will go for multi-lap runs.”

“The medium tyre can handle multiple laps but without having several sets available, there’s a higher chance of getting unlucky with a red flag for example. I think everyone will get out on track and get busy trying to put laps in.”

“It’s been interesting as we didn’t actually know the format until Tuesday as the rules were voted on at the F1 Commission meeting.”

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Mercedes scenario planned new format

Despite the intricacies of the new additional qualifying format being undecided until Tuesday evening this week, Mercedes engaged in scenario planning to cover all potential bases they were likely to face.

“We looked at three eventualities that may have happened and prepared tyre and run plans for all of those,” revealed Shovlin.

“When you’ve only got FP1, it’s practically impossible to condense all the usual learnings across Friday and Saturday into one session.

“You lose the opportunity to focus on the long run and you’ve got to think about what the real priorities are.

“It’s our job to take any set of regulations and optimise for them. With a lack of information there’s an opportunity to learn more quickly and do a better job. That’s what the team is focused on.”

The lost opportunities to learn from long run simulations is likely to force the teams into making strategy decisions for the Grand Prix ‘on the hoof’ as the Sunday race unfolds.

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2 responses to “Hamilton appears confused by new Sprint format

  1. I am confused too.
    I don’t see the benefit of qualifying for the sprint race nor for taking part in the sprint race.
    It just uses up tyre allocations, adds wear and tear on the engine and other parts and adds extra strain on the drivers.
    Can someone inform me how any of this will help the drivers and teams.
    Don’t take part and avoid having penalties for extra engines and parts later in the year.

  2. Why. It is suposed to be F1 contest. Not a spri t race. Just alow the drivers and teams to give us the best F1 race

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