Formula One’s Managing Director of Motorsport, Ross Brawn, has suggested a couple of changes to the Grand Prix weekend format. Whilst some wacky ideas have been thrown about like slotting in a sprint race between qualifying and the feature event, Brawn is reluctant to change a formula that has seen F1’s popularity reach new heights in 2017.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Brawn said,
“I think the length of a grand prix is about right. It’s not too long, it’s not too short – it engages you. We want the grand prix to evolve and have its highlights and come together at the end. I’m not sure that we should be thinking in terms of changing the grand prix length.
However, he isn’t against making changes in other areas. He once again questioned whether there need to be so many practice sessions, and also suggested a way of getting fans more involved.
“I think practice on a Friday is open to discussion. Whether we need two sessions, whether we can have only one afternoon session. There’s another fact in all of this is the number of races that we have. If we have an increased number of races, do we change the format to put less pressure on the teams to be able to do those races?
“But the fans always come first. So what do the fans want to see in a Grand Prix weekend? Getting close to the cars, getting close to the drivers is something we always get feedback on. It’s an essential of the fans.”
“Over the race weekend could we do more to allow the fans to get closer to the cars. One proposal is to have an open scrutineering. Cars literally have to go out into a field to be scrutineered so fans can come and see them. It used to happen at Le Mans and it was a great event.”
So, an open scrutineering bay that allows fans to get closer to the machinery and a reduced practice format that not only provides a more compact weekend for the teams and personnel involved, but also adds emphasis to the reduced time on-track before qualifying and the race.
We’ve seen a few instances in recent seasons in which cars that have an issue on Friday end up rolling up to the starting grid with a bit of imbalance in the setup and out of position. Reducing the practice sessions available would definitely serve to randomise the events in qualifying and the race a little bit, all without actually changing the format of these elements, which seems like a good idea.
Changing the length of a Grand Prix, as Brawn points out, would make little difference to how entertaining a race is. Take the season finale of 2017, which was a fairly dull affair, but this was largely due to the circuit. Two races of half-length would have been as dull save for getting an extra race start.
Given that the powers that be have already simplified the penalty system, it can be taken for granted that the race and quali format aren’t changing anytime soon. They’ll be like Haas brake burnouts or a lapped Sauber, immovable and inevitable.