F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have criticised F1’s new plans to trial sprint races in the upcoming season. F1’s new CEO Stefano Domenicali made the suggestion that sprint races should take place on the Saturday, with a third of the total points up for grabs.
“It’s important to think of new ideas of being more attractive or interesting but we don’t have to lose the traditional approach of racing,” Domenicali said.
“When we changed qualifying every couple of days [at the start of 2016], it burned our fingers. Now, the formula is quite stable.
“We are looking at what could be the approach of the so-called sprint race on Saturday. We are thinking that could be tested maybe this year.”
However, Verstappen has hit back at the proposal, saying: “I don’t think we should turn everything upside down for more spectacle.”
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“More racing is not always a good thing,” Verstappen said when asked about the idea.
“I like the current format with one grand prix for an hour and a half.
“The most important thing is that we have good cars that you can fight with on the track and that there are more teams driving for victory. Then you don’t need sprint races.
“I don’t think we should turn everything upside down for more spectacle.”
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Perez agrees with Verstappen’s assessment, adding: “It’s a thin line on which we have to balance We have to be careful that we do not deviate too far from the normal format.
“The most important thing for me is that the DNA of Formula 1 is not lost.”
Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone believes the sprint race idea should go one step further and incorporate a reverse grid idea.
Speaking to Auto Motor Und, Ecclestone said: “You have to award points for the sprint race and then turn the grid for the main race accordingly. If the winner of the sprint race gets 15 points, he has to keep 15 starting places on Sunday. This is the only way to keep the tension high.
“My system makes both races exciting. Because on Saturday one or the other question asks: Should I win the sprint race but lose starting positions or is it better to be sixth in the sprint race and then start fourth in the main race?”
However, like Verstappen and Perez, Hamilton has previously expressed concerns about proposals to tinker with the current F1 format.
When a reverse grid was suggested last season, Hamilton firmly rejected the idea, saying: “People who propose that don’t really know what they’re talking about.
“The fact that now they are trying the reverse grid and all that feels like an excuse for not doing a good enough job.”
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