Formula one is introducing a new qualifying format for race weekends which will be experimented for the first time at Silverstone. Ross Brawn has now shed some light on the process.
This new format is expected to be completely different from the current format. The new weekend will see the Qualifying session held on Friday, the sprint race on Saturday, and the Grand Prix on Sunday. Brawn explained that Saturday’s sprint race will not be as extravagant a process as Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Speaking with Motorsport.com, Brawn said: “We are trying to give a little bit of a fresh flavour. So that there’ll be a shorter period going on to the grid. There won’t be the driver parade, but there’ll be opportunities on the grid to interview the drivers.”
“And we’ve got some interesting things we want to try after the race, short, sharp. There won’t be a podium, it will be rather like qualifying because we want to keep the podium for the big event of the weekend.”
“We’ll just keep that in the bag, but there are some fresh things that we’re doing with the sprint, which I think will be nice to try.”
The new format is seemingly more complicated than its traditional counterpart. Consequently, Brawn has highlighted the importance of thoroughly explaining the weekend to its fans before Silverstone.
“We’re going to have a real competition on a Friday, [and] a new competition on a Saturday, and all of that should enhance the Grand Prix on Sunday. So, I don’t believe we cannibalize the grand prix in any way. This is all additive and will contribute towards the whole weekend.”
“I guess to meet the criticism head-on, some people like the traditional approach and think we’re messing with something that doesn’t need messing with, and I understand that.”
“As you know, I’ve been in the sport a very long time. I think the way we’re exploring this opportunity is not going to damage F1 at all. And it will become clear, after the second or third of the events, how well this is succeeding, and how well the fans are engaging with it.”
“We’ve got new graphics; we’re doing a lot on social media in the next week or 10 days. So, we’re doing a lot to explain to our fans, what this is all about so that, when they turn the telly on at any stage, over the Silverstone weekend, they know exactly what’s going on.”
There was an indefinite assumption made by F1’s fans that qualifiers on Friday would determine the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Brawn has divulged further, shedding light on discussions between F1 and FIA, that the two bodies have agreed that the winner of the sprint race will take pole for the main event on Sunday.
“I probably have to correct something I’ve said before because initially, we thought it would still be the Friday qualifying,” Brawn said when asked about the pole issue. “But, in fact, after discussions with the FIA, they feel pole position is the guy in front of the grid for the Grand Prix.”
“So it’s the person who finishes a sprint in first place, it’s the one who is on the front of the grid and has pole position for the race, the Grand Prix, on a Sunday. And that’s what we’ll count statistically towards the number of poles because it is the sprint qualifying.”
“That’s one of the reasons the FIA want it covered that way so that we can ensure that the race is the race, the Grand Prix is the Grand Prix. And we don’t cannibalise the Grand Prix.”
The sprint race is a shorter race and smaller teams could have a lot to play for if bigger teams want to play it more carefully to preserve their single-seater for Sunday’s race. We can expect to see some unlikely pole sitters for Sunday. This confirmation by F1’s managing and technical director has certainly stirred up excitement for the new format to make its debut at Silverstone.