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Formula 1 must fix its wonky race weekend program

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The Azerbaijan Grand Prix race weekend program was confusing to most Formula 1 fans and observers or to us traditionalists if you wish. Surely there’s a better way?

On a weekend that delivered an epic MotoGP and an incredible Spa 6 Hour, Formula 1 came off, well, a bit last season. Sure those double Leclerc poles, the Red Bulls surging past… and, well that’s just about it until Fernando hunted Charles down to the line. Oh, yes, that last lap pitlane thing went a bit viral. But for the rest, F1 was if anything, mute.

Put it down to one team having a huge advantage and another pretty crappy racetrack. But there’s more to it than that. How many of you missed the Sunday start that was suddenly moved to 1pm? And how many of you actually understood what the hell was going down all weekend? I mean qualifying for this then and that now, is hardly doing anyone any favours.

MGP has it down pat. The WEC too. But F1 these days doesn’t actually seem to know what it is. The biggest issue this weekend was F1’s arse about race schedule. Two qualifying sessions before two races had most of my social media peers asking WTF?

Let’s start with the Sprint Race weekend format

So let’s start with the Sprint Race weekend. Not sure how MotoGP and the WEC can have the same program every race weekend while F1 dithers, but still, Formula 1 seems a farce in comparison. Right now we have one practice followed by qualifying for the Grand Prix, taking place Friday afternoon.

Then another quali session Saturday morning followed by the Sprint. And then race proper Sunday afternoon. And then they want to know why everyone’s confused? Well that’s because it’s as confusing as some of the carmakers that compete, make their streetcar infotainment systems. Impossible to understand.

Surely if, Max forbid, F1 can actually make its new style race weekends part of every Grand Prix, rather than just six, the race program also needs a complete rethink? Right now they’re stealing from this to make that work when a complete refresh would do the whole thing far better. Especially if as it seems, Sprints will become a regular part of race weekends.

The solution is simple. Add a session

Also, is there really any harm in actually adding another session to the race weekend to really make it pop? And something that would make everyone happy, from race more bang for race fans’ buck, to teams and drivers benefiting a bit more track time, and the rest?

There are of course many ways to skin a cat, but why not just leave Friday practice days as is, with the traditional two sessions. Then, on Saturday morning, make the existing P3 session a little more interesting. Do a half-hour session to determine the bottom half of the grid. With the top ten going straight into a real Sprint Shootout, a proper Superpole?

In other words the top ten cars from Friday morning practice head out in reverse order, with those lap times sorting the Sprint grid. That way, Saturday would be its whole own race with a unique Sprint race day with its own qualifying and race in its own, unique, different, and interesting format.

Two clear and different race days every GP

Then it starts all over again with the old Saturday qualifying shifted to an early Sunday traditional Q1, Q2 and Q3 sessions. Followed by the Grand Prix as usual. Surely that makes so much more sense than today’s utterly confusing format that’s probably driving folk away to watch something else.

If we are going to do Sprint weekends, do them every race, like Moto GP somehow just went and did. And if we do that, make it make sense to everyone watching. Because right now it doesn’t. And that’s not just a disappointment. Its embarrassing. A good place to start, Formula 1?

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