Seidl: Sprint races best kept for specific Formula 1 tracks

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl believes it is good to have trialled Formula 1’s new Saturday sprint race at Silverstone, but the format should be reserved for specific circuits.

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F1 staged its inaugural 100km sprint race last Saturday at the British Grand Prix as part of a weekend format shake-up that will take place at two further events this year.

Fans at the track were given three days of competitive action as qualifying moved to Friday, with the sprint race then taking place on Saturday afternoon to set the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

The response to the first sprint race was mixed, with the main highlight coming on the opening lap as Fernando Alonso made up five positions.

F1 has always made clear the sprint races in 2021 - planned for Monza and one other track - are a trial for the format that could be expanded for next year should they prove to be a hit.

F1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn said ahead of the sprint race debut that it could be used at as many as half a dozen races in the future.

McLaren F1 chief Seidl felt it was “too early to say” what the maximum number of sprint events would be in a season, but that it should only be used on certain tracks and cannot become a standard moving forward.

“It is good that we have these trials now this year for three weekends,” Seidl said. "I think it is good also to take our time together with the fans and our partners and all teams, with Formula 1, with the FIA, to analyse exactly how this weekend went and then make conclusions based on that.

“I think that is just an initial view, I think it is a good idea to only use it for specific event and tracks for a different format.

“I don’t see, for example, it being the standard for all weekends.”

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The revised format threw additional curveballs at teams as they had to lock in their set-ups under parc ferme conditions after just a single practice session on Friday morning before qualifying.

Teams also received a free choice of starting tyre for Sunday’s race - a rule that will apply to all races next year - resulting in all but on driver taking mediums for the first stint.

Seidl felt the first race sprint race weekend had played out as expected, and that the Saturday race gave some signs of what followed on Sunday for McLaren in its fight against Ferrari, led by Charles Leclerc.

“I would say the weekend played out in terms of strategy and tyres as we had anticipated,” Seidl said. “The sprint race in the end gave a good picture of where everyone has been in terms of race pace.

“It was obvious to see that Charles was already very strong and we couldn’t beat him [on Saturday] and the same happened again [on Sunday].

“I would say no big surprises and no big learnings from the sprint race that changed anything for the race today.”

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