Domenicali calls out “selfish drivers”

Traditionally the administration of Formula One has not been a fast paced change orientated environment. Part of the reason is due to the conflicting needs of the various parties along with historic anomalies like the Ferrari veto.

Yet Liberty Media is changing all that having appointed an F1 man through and through as the CEO. Stefano Domenicali commands the respect of the teams and the FIA having been the last Ferrari team boss to deliver the Scuderia with a title in 2008.



New Sprint format not universally liked

Yet the Italian this year appears to be a man on a mission. Having delivered the increase in the number of Sprint events from 3 to 6 Domenicali then managed to persuade the teams to unanimously agree a change in the Sprint weekend format.

A regulation change such as this within a season is almost unheard of because it requires all the parties within the F1 commission to agree. This is usually unlikely because each of the parties wants to horse trade their vote of agreement for something else and so the process becomes lengthy and convoluted.

The new Sprit weekend format trialed in Baku was not received with unanimous approval, particularly from the drivers.

With points only awarded to the top 8 drivers a number commented that the Saturday Sprint qualifying and race was in fact irrelevant to them.

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Verstappen criticises new format

Lando Norris was not allowed to take part in Sprint qualifying 3 because of the rule stating he must use a new set of soft tyres which the British driver did not have.

When told of the recently agreed change to the upcoming weekend in Baku, Max Verstappen was firm in his opinion. Speaking to Sport TV after he took pole for the Australian Grand Prix, he said: “I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long.

“I am not a fan of [the proposals] at all,” he added in the press conference after qualifying.

“When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races. It is not the right way to go about it.



“Scrap the whole thing”

Verstappen’s veiled threat to quit F1 made headlines around the world and the world champions opinion didn’t improve after he came second to his team mate in the Blu Sprint event.

“Just scrap the whole thing,” he retorted when asked about how he felt the revised Sprint format had gone.

“I think it’s just important to go back to what we had and make sure that every team can fight for the win, that’s what we have to try and aim for [rather than] trying to implement all these kinds of artificial excitement.

Stefano Domenicali has now called out “selfish” F1 drivers suggesting they need to understand they are “part of a broader picture.” The F1 CEO believes the sport must cater more for the fans over a weekend and not pander to the drivers’ every whim.

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Other changes on the horizon

“I don’t want a society in which people cannot say what they want,” he tells The Daily Mail.

“But drivers sometimes need to remember that they are part of a broader picture. We don’t need to be selfish. 

“They are part of this sport and this business, and it grows because we are thinking bigger.

Domenicali suggests being resistant to change is not the way forward for F1 and there are other potential switches on the horizon.



Reduce number of f1 practice sessions

“Sometimes being out of our comfort zone is not easy, but we cannot get lazy or complacent – we can review some of the specifics of the sprint weekend format at the end of the season once we have tried it out on the intended six occasions.

“We won’t have sprints every weekend, either.

Another topic doing the rounds in the F1 media has been the reduction in practice sessions at Formula One weekends. More practice benefits the larger teams given the incremental resources they can deploy to analyse the data from these track tests.

Further, it is more difficult for promoters to sell tickets for Friday’s where the F1 cars are on track for a total of two hours performing unknown run plans.

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Tweaks to Sprint format expected

“But we have a new audience and need to provide value for money [in] every session, and not let everyone drive around in circles for the sole benefit of the engineers and drivers.” Domenicali concludes.

The Sprint format from Baku will be run again at the Austrian and Belgian Grand Prix before a review by the FIA during the Sumer break.

The expectation is it will be tweaked to ensure the Lando Norris scenario is not repeated at the remaining Sprint events in Qatar, United States and Sao Paulo Grands Prix.

Stefano Domenicali reveals he as spoken with Max Verstappen since Baku and claims despite the Dutchman’s threats there is “not a problem” with the Red Bull driver.



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“I discussed the issues with Max [before the Miami Grand Prix],” he explained.

“He said he loved the sport and what he was doing.

“He is the World Champion and is fighting for a third title – he was born in a car and I would say he is likely to stay longer [in F1] than me. It’s not a problem.”

Verstappen has agreed with Domenicali’s view that there could be less practice sessions as has Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.

“Definitely, three is not needed,” Gasly told assembled media in Baku. “It’s always nice you can work on fine details on the car and really try to nail that car balance for the weekend, but generally speaking one, two maximum is more than enough for us.

READ MORE: Ferrari tells LeClerc to “do better”

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