F1 drivers buoyant on ‘intense’ Sprint Qualifying trial

F1 drivers, led by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, cast an overall positive view on the sport’s decision to trial its innovative Sprint Qualifying format at three venues this season.

The Formula 1 Commission confirmed the trial earlier this week, with the first Sprint Qualifying weekend set to take place at the British GP at Silverstone this summer.

Hamilton praised F1 for being open-minded and moving ahead with the plan.

“I’ve always said that we need to have some sort of different format throughout the year at some tracks,” said the reigning world champion.

“So I like that they are being open-minded and making changes. I think from those experimental weekends, hopefully the sport will learn lots on how we can deploy better races moving forwards.”

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel believes the novel format will lead to “intense” weekends where everyone will need to get their set-ups right at the outset.

“It makes the weekend, I think, a bit more intense,” said the German. “You have less time to prepare, you have to come up with your final set-up very quickly after you first hit the track.

“But it’s going to be the same for everyone and we’ll soon find out how it feels, if we like it, if people like it, what it might bring to the weekend.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc welcomed the chance to experiment with the format but underscored the importance of maintaining the status of Sunday’s main event.

“I think the main important thing is that it doesn’t devalue the Sunday event which is the main race, and this should remain the main race,” he said.

“But to have a sprint race might be interesting and we’ll see also the cars being pushed to the max from the first lap to the last lap, which will be nice for us drivers.”

    Read also: Silverstone confirms British GP Sprint Qualifying first

At the other end of the grid, Mick Schumacher said that a Saturday sprint race was a familiar concept for him and warned that it would likely be a tough proposition for teams.

“Obviously I think it’s something [we’re] used to from Formula 2, so it’s not too new,” said the Haas rookie. “But definitely I think it’s going to be very tough for the teams, especially if there are any reliability issues or even some accidents or something, so that’s going to be very tough.”

“I’d say it’s going to be important to get to the end, go through it cleanly,” he added. “For me, coming into this as a rookie, the [full] Grand Prix is quite valuable, quite special and new.

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“But I’m always open for new things and I think it’s going to be quite new to Formula 1, and I think it’s great we are trying out something different.”

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