Sebastian Vettel ‘open’ to Sprint Qualifying after previous criticism as F1 drivers react to new format

Sebastian Vettel remains sceptical about Sprint Qualifying but the four-time world champion says he is “open” to the new format for Formula 1 2021 and hopes it brings more excitement to Grand Prix weekends.

Vettel has been vocal in his criticism of potential new F1 formats in recent years and said in March, as sprint-race speculation grew, that grid-setting races “make no sense”, while also claiming the idea of introducing them to spice up an event was “more of a patch rather than a fix”.

‘Sprint Qualifying’ has now been confirmed for three Grands Prix in 2021 – with qualifying moved to Friday to set the grid for a shorter 100km race on the Saturday, which will then set the grid for Sunday’s main race.

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Speaking to Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz ahead of the Portuguese GP, Vettel explained his caution to new formats but said he was now “pretty open” to Sprint Qualifying.

“Obviously it’s decided so we’ll give it a go,” stated Vettel. “The reasoning behind this… there’s probably two ways to explain it. The official one if that it should be more exciting.

“I hope it is, and if it turns out to be more exciting and the people like it, maybe we have to reset and adapt.

“If they don’t like it and we don’t like it, then let’s go back.

“I’m generally against creating a mess on purpose, otherwise you might [as well] roll the dice, but we’ll see. Hopefully [we] get the cars get closer and closer so we don’t have to think about more of these things.

“Now I’m pretty open and we’ll see how it turns out.”

Sprint Qualifying, which will reward the top three finishing drivers with points, is set to make its F1 debut at July’s British GP.

“The drivers are open-minded about the format – and that’s all we ask, that the drivers keep an open mind so we can evaluate this event and then we decide if in the future it forms a feature of the F1 season,” said F1’s Ross Brawn.

“If it doesn’t work, we put [our] hands up and we will think again.”

F1 drivers react to Sprint Qualifying confirmation

Lewis Hamilton
“I’ve always said that we need to have some sort of different format at certain races through the year. Places like Monaco for example, where it’s beautiful to be at but it’s not an exciting race necessarily.

“I like that they’re being open-minded, making changes and I think from those experimental kind of weekends hopefully this sport will learn lots about how we can deploy better races moving forwards.”

Max Verstappen
“I’m just looking forward to it, hopefully it brings even more excitement. I hope it’s not going to make the Sunday race a bit more boring when you know of course what’s happening already in the Sprint Race in terms of competitiveness of the cars. But I don’t want to sound negative, let’s just see what happens and hopefully it’s a good thing.”

Fernando Alonso
“I think it’s good, first of all. A new idea, a fresh idea. This is the season to try, because I think in 2022 there are high hopes for a better Formula 1.

“There are some things we like as a spectator at home to watch, which is qualifying – the adrenaline – and the start of the race, so we now have that two times.

“So why not? Nobody can say right now if it’s a good or bad thing, but we all agree that it’s good to test and good to try, so let’s go for it.”

Carlos Sainz
“I’m positive about it. I think Formula 1 is doing a good effort, a good job by trying to experiment with formats. It’s a year before a big rule change next year and it kind of allows you to experiment a bit with this kind of stuff.

“The fact we’re going to have races with Sprint Qualifying is going to be interesting. I don’t think it’s going to change the order too much but it adds an extra race to the weekend which might be more interesting because in the end racing is what we enjoy the most.”

George Russell
“The change brings a bit more excitement, it brings three days of proper action. I think it’s an interesting concept, we’ve got to give it a chance see how we get on but I’m excited for it.

“If it brings action, if it brings excitement then that’s in the best interest for everybody.”

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