New F1 sprint format will free up “genius guys” to change cars

Last year teams were locked into choices made after FP1 as the cars were in parc ferme for main qualifying, the shootout, the sprint and the grand prix.

That meant an uncompetitive car couldn’t be improved with set-up tweaks, and also led to issues like the excessive plank wear that led to Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc being disqualified after the US GP.

Under the new format, FP1 is followed by the shootout and sprint under an initial parc ferme, and then teams will have the opportunity to use the knowledge they’ve gained to change their cars before they go into a second parc ferme that covers main qualifying and the race.

Details of exactly how the new format will work were discussed on Friday by a meeting of the sporting advisory committee.

“I think that’s great,” said Gasly when asked by Autosport about the changes. “I think that was missing, definitely. We ended up last year having amazing, brilliant, genius guys on a Friday afternoon being forbidden to touch anything on our car.

“That’s what they are paid for, that’s why they are the best. It was a bit sad, because they have much more to bring to the table than just one or two clicks of front flap and tyre pressure.

“F1 is the top of engineering, and I think it’s great we still give them the opportunity to always make these continuous improvements through the weekend.”

Mechanics work on the car of Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Mechanics work on the car of Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Gasly confirmed that previously his engineers were left frustrated when they knew they could improve the car but were not able to do so.

“Exactly,” he said. “You don’t have time to try anything. Because in one hour practice, you’re quite limited. So it was always like, try to do the work in the simulator.

“If you realise you didn’t start the weekend with the best set-up, your window to react was extremely small. So I think as a sport it was the definitely the right change.”

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Gasly’s team-mate Esteban Ocon agreed the new format will be beneficial.

“It would be good to do a sprint shootout and then close the parc ferme to do the sprint race and then reopen it before qualifying,” he said.

“I think that’s what we should be doing. It will be much more interesting as a weekend, and we will see a lot less mistakes with stupid things like plank wear.”

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