Hosting a F1 Sprint Race weekend on a street circuit like Baku is a “ludicrous” proposition that will cost Formula 1 teams when they “trash” their cars, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said.
Baku City circuit will host the first of F1’s six Sprint Races this season at the end of April, with the others to be held in Austria at the Red Bull Ring, at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, Qatar’s Losail, COTA in Austin, and Brazil’s Interlagos.
“The reality is it’s absolutely ludicrous to be doing the first F1 Sprint Race of the year in a street race like Azerbaijan,” Horner told reporters ahead of the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.
“But I think from a spectacle point of view, from a fan point of view, it’s probably going to be one of the most exciting F1 Sprint races of the year.
“From a cost cap perspective, all you can do is trash your car. And it costs a lot of money around there. So you know one race is enough in Baku. The fact that we’ve got two, there could be, well, some action there,” ventured Horner; other team bosses echoed his concerns.
“As Christian said, anytime we go to a street circuit – Baku creates pretty exciting races, some pretty big crash damage bills,” said McLaren chief Zak Brown.
“(It’s) the same for everyone and it is what it is. It’ll be very exciting for the for the fans, and hopefully, all the cars will come back the way they started.”
More changes being considered for F1 weekend format
Aston Martin boss Mike Krack said there was “some nervousness” about it “but it’s the same for everybody. So we try to keep the cars in one piece as long as we can.
The F1 Sprint Race format involves qualifying on Friday for a 100km race on Saturday – with points awarded to the top eight – that sets the grid for the main grand prix on Sunday.
Formula 1 is considering changes for the future, including turning Saturday into a standalone race.
“Hopefully, we can tidy up the format for these F1 Sprint Races coming up, that they’re a bit more dynamic,” added Horner.
Three F1 Sprint weekends were scheduled in 2022, with the first held at Imola in Italy and the other two in Austria and Brazil.
With the bullet-proof reliability of today’s F1 cars and cost-caps, the need for practice is increasingly questioned.
F1 Sprint Races are a by-product of today’s F1 landscape, which had remained relatively stagnant, but has shifted vastly in recent years as the sport appeals to the mass market like never before. (Reporting by Ian Ransom)