Formula 1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn believes aspects of the sport’s first ever Sprint at the British Grand Prix were “sensational.”
Silverstone is the scene for the first of three trial events this season where qualifying takes place on Friday evening and sets the grid for a 100km Sprint qualifying race on Saturday, with the result of that providing the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. After Max Verstappen won from second on the grid in an inaugural Sprint that featured plenty of action, Brawn was delighted with the format’s first impressions.
“Very pleased,” Brawn said. “It’s a completely new concept for Formula 1. I think one of the things we all saw today was a racing driver is a racing driver and they’re never going to take it easy. That first lap or so was completely nail-biting and sensational, and then we had the little duels in the rest of the race.
“Fernando Alonso’s performance today was sensational — got my vote for the highlight of the race. I’d buy a ticket for that every day, so we’re very pleased.
“We’ll let the dust settle on the weekend, spend some time with the FIA and the teams, try and understand if there’s some evolutions we want but we won’t be changing the fundamental format this year. I think after the three races we can sit down and see where we go from here. But so far very positive.”
With Lewis Hamilton quickest in Friday qualifying but getting a poor start in the Sprint, Brawn dismissed the notion that his lack of a pole position devalues the qualifying session.
“He’s second, and he has a really strong insight… if that had been the proper race today he wouldn’t have won it, so therefore he has another opportunity tomorrow to think about the start, think about the tires, think about how he approached it, so look at it from that perspective.”
However, Brawn acknowledges that perhaps the way a polesitter is credited might need revisiting, with the Sprint winner being listed as taking pole position for the grand prix rather than the fastest driver in Friday’s qualifying session.
“I think that’s a very good point and maybe something we need to think about if there’s some change in the nomenclature of what we’re doing, and should Friday be the pole position — it’s things like that we’ll talk about and discuss with the FIA and teams. But we can’t be held back by history; we need to respect history but we must never be held back by history.”
Brawn adds the crucial factor in determining the success of the Sprint will be how fans react.
“At the end of the day that’s the crucial thing. We’re already getting massive feedback — positive — from the fans on social media. They love it. But there will be fans who make some comments, what they didn’t understand or appreciate and we’ll take that into account as well.”