What the drivers made of F1’s inaugural sprint race

F1 drivers have shared their thoughts on the championship's sprint format experiment after it debuted at the British Grand Prix on Saturday.
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR21.
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR21.
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Formula 1 debuted its experimental sprint qualifying race on Saturday at the British Grand Prix as part of a format which has split opinion among fans and drivers. 

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen jumped main rival Lewis Hamilton with a better start and went on to win the first-ever sprint event, bagging himself three world championship points and pole position for Sunday’s British GP. 

F1 took an unprecedented step into the unknown but the jury is still out on whether the trial run was a success. 

Here’s what some of the drivers had to say about the new format…

Max Verstappen 

“First of all for me, Friday didn’t feel more enjoyable because for me, personally, qualifying is where you should get pole position, and of course Lewis was ahead there. You jump out of the car and it does mean something, but not the real hype that I nailed the lap and I put it on pole or whatever.

“When I crossed the line today after this race and they were like, ‘yeah, great job, pole position’, it feels a bit like… ‘I did one-third of the race distance’ and then to hear you did pole position for tomorrow, it’s a bit odd.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing wins the sprint race and claims pole position with Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing wins the sprint race and claims pole…
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Lewis Hamilton

“Yesterday was enjoyable with the way it was set up with the one session and then straight into qualifying.

“In my opinion, it only needs to be a Saturday and Sunday weekend. That way we have one whole day less, 23 days actually less of driving these cars around the track. Obviously that would be better in terms of going more green.

“It’s so difficult for us to pass and unfortunately with these cars you need pitstops and strategy to help sometimes, otherwise it’s so hard to get close.

“I think the fans enjoyed it, from what we saw on the parade laps. It’s always nice doing more races that’s for sure, but tomorrow we’ve only got one event. It’s almost like they should almost do the sprint race on the Sunday and the race, because they’ll be a lot of sitting around for people tomorrow.”

Valtteri Bottas

“If I would choose which I enjoyed more, I would say Friday. I really enjoyed qualifying and that feeling of pushing the car to the limit on a single lap.

“Obviously was a nice thing to try and get another start, so, in the same lines as Lewis, I maybe enjoyed yesterday a bit more. 

“But it’s still good fun, you know, racing with these cars against the best drivers on this amazing track, in front of all the fans. It’s nice but I’m just already looking forward to tomorrow, for the main event.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-21.
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-21.
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Charles Leclerc

“In some races for sure there won’t be as much action in the sprint qualifying, but at least it makes something exciting for every day. 

"Normally I’m so bored in the car on the Friday. Yesterday it felt a bit more exciting and there was a bit more to gain to push straight out of the box in FP1 to be ready for qualifying.

“17 laps pushing flat out is something we’re normally not used to. It feels good to be pushing for 17 laps. It’s very nice. 

“I prefer to drive in those conditions, makes me think about refuelling a little bit. It felt very, very good. I think racing also, those tyres are in a much better window and it makes us push a lot more.”

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren MCL35M.
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren MCL35M.
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"Qualifying is fun. It is intense and there is a lot of pressure, but for me Sunday has always been my favorite day. 

“This is like having two Sundays, and having two chances for a race start and this level of intensity and competition two times, is fun. 

“What I enjoy most is racing, and when the lights go out you get that feeling of battling and competition. I know they don’t call it a race, but it is like a race. 

“It was cool to have two battles on one weekend, and I look forward to another one tomorrow. Hopefully, the fans enjoyed it. For sure it is different and I know some people always hesitate with change, but so far it has been a fun weekend.”

Fernando Alonso

“I like it, the format. We have action in the three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so it’s good for the people.

“Last year when I was watching races at home, Friday meant nothing because the long runs, they are very important for the drivers and the teams but not for the people at home.

“I hope we can keep this format, and if anything, I would suggest Fridays could be more spicy as well, like having one set of tyres and one attempt by everybody. It gives the same chances for everybody. It’s not unfair qualifying, or a reverse order, which I understand can be unfair. 

“If we have one set of tyres and one chance, it’s the same for everybody and maybe you change something. We saw yesterday [Friday] with six attempts and six sets of tyres, we finish in the performance order of our cars, every qualifying. Maybe that can be changed a little bit.” 

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team on the grid.
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team on the grid.
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Sebastian Vettel

“We love racing, so it’s a little race and it’s weird because it’s by far the shortest race I have done in years. But yeah, it’s not bad.

“I think yesterday to be honest was good fun, to have already something on a Friday that matters, that was nice.

“I could see that maybe in the future there will be more of this. I’m sure the people liked it, I guess it’s better than a bunch of free practices.”

George Russell

“It was quite fun, just going hell for leather and really, really pushing the cars to the limit, which is not what we often get to do. 

“It was only in the final lap or two that the tyres started to degrade, and that’s obviously when the real action would have ordinarily happened in a normal-length race.I was a fan of having qualifying yesterday and having three days of action. 

“I don’t know, it seems very strange right now, having just finished a race and going off and doing it all again tomorrow. And not getting any points for finishing inside the top 10, which is obviously a little bit frustrating, given our position!

“I’ll have to review after the weekend but I definitely enjoyed qualifying yesterday.”

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43B.
George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43B.
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Antonio Giovinazzi 

“I don’t know to be honest. I think in the end there not much doing after lap one, so we need to see again to be honest. Not 100% convinced, but we’ll see.”

Sergio Perez

"The format is very different, I think we have got to wait and see. 

“I think this is mainly done for the fans so whether or not it has more repercussions to them. From my side the format is a bit too different to normal. Practice two is a bit of a waste of time.

“I think the format itself, it doesn’t make much sense. Practice two, the way it is, I think that is something that drivers and teams tend to see as a bit useless because it is not like you can prepare for anything at that point. 

“You cannot prepare for the sprint and you cannot prepare much for the race. Everyone is saving mileage so I think that is something that can be improved.”

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB16B.
Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB16B.
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