Formula 1 chief Ross Brawn insists the championship will drop its Sprint Qualifying race proposal if it does not prove to be a success when trialed this season.
On Monday it was announced that the F1 Commission had unanimously approved the new format – that will see a shortened 100km race take place on Saturday to set the grid for Sunday’s main event – at three selected rounds in 2021.
The proposal has been met with a mixed response from fans and drivers alike but Brawn has stressed that F1 will only roll over Sprint Qualifying races into next season if they work.
“[One of the challenges was] finding a format that had the right balance between giving us an opportunity to have exciting Friday and Saturday running – perhaps a shorter format race but one which did not take anything away from main event,” Brawn told the official F1 website.
“We had to find that balance. Everyone had a different opinion on what that should look like. It was also about finding an economic and logistical solution that didn’t impact teams too severely.
“They want this event, but they are all working under massive challenges and we had to find a solution that worked with them without compromising the event.
“The drivers are open minded about the format – and that’s all we ask, that the drivers keep an open mind so we can evaluate this event and then we decide if in the future it forms a feature of the F1 season. If it doesn’t work, we put hands up and we will think again.”
Brawn made it clear F1 is determined to ensure the new format does not undermine the grand prix but instead enhances the weekend spectacle as a whole.
“The thing to remember about Sprint Qualifying is that it’s intention is to expand the whole weekend,” he explained.
“It is not intended to impact the race event. The Grand Prix is still the vital event of the weekend.
“We want to give fans engagement throughout the whole weekend. Sunday’s Grand Prix is fantastic, and we don’t want to cannibalise that, but we want to lift up the engagement on a Friday and a Saturday.
“Friday is really for the aficionados at the moment. Watching practice session on Friday is fun but there is no conclusion to it. But on a Friday now [at these selected events], we’ll have the excitement of the qualifying format.
“I think it will be a great addition. There is unlikely to be pit stops, so it’ll be a clean race. It’ll be 30 mins roughly, 100km of action.
“We want to see how fans engage with it and if the short format is appealing, it’s complimentary and if it works with the main race. We feel it will. We feel it’s going to be very exciting.”