Chandhok believes ideal F1 format includes sprint races

F1 pundit Karun Chandhok believes F2-style reverse-grind sprint races on Saturday afternoons would be a beneficial change to the current Grand Prix weekend format.

Sprint races, either as standalone races or in place of qualifying to set the Grand Prix grid, were mooted as potential ideas for F1’s 2021 overhaul, but were ultimately rejected by teams last year.

Despite this pushback Chandhok still believes sprint races could improve F1, although only if they are introduced as an F2-style secondary race and not as an alternative qualifying format.

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Speaking to ThePitCrewOnline about his ideal Grand Prix weekend, Chandhok said: “You’d have a Saturday morning qualifying with the same format that we have now. I think qualifying is one of the most exciting things we have in the [current] format, it really works with three segments. So I’d have that on Saturday morning, and that would be the grid for the Grand Prix.

“But on Saturday afternoon I’d have a 45-minute sprint race with the top 10 [from qualifying] reversed, with half points because it’s half the distance.

“And you don’t do it at every race. For example, you wouldn’t do it at Monaco where overtaking’s impossible. I would take eight races in the year, or half the races in the year, and do that on a Saturday afternoon.”

Chandhok said that awarding points for the sprint race was essential, as that would incentivise drivers to race their way through the pack and teams to set up the cars for overtaking rather than peak qualifying pace. He also said he believes his version of a sprint race would help bring in new and younger fans, while not upsetting F1 traditionalists as the races aren’t being used to set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

In addition to a Saturday afternoon sprint race, Chandhok said that his idea of the F1 weekend would see FP3 dropped to make way for the sprint race, and include a requirement for all teams to run at least one young driver in every FP1 session throughout the season.

Chandhok calls for 18-race F1 calendar

Sky Sports pundit and former F1 driver Karun Chandhok has said that F1’s calendar should be limited to 18 races to ensure each event remains special.

The championship calendar has featured a record 21 Grands Prix for three of the last four seasons, and Liberty Media has expressed a desire to expand that to 25 in the near future. 2020 will see the return of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, as well as the debut of a new street venue in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Liberty has also investigated running street races in Miami, Las Vegas and Copenhagen, and is reportedly in talks with both South Africa and Morocco about returning F1 to Africa.

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But Chandhok has told ThePitCrewOnline he believes this is the wrong direction for F1’s schedule to go: “I think 18’s a good number, I think it’s good for fans to have a break. Somewhere around the 18 mark makes each race have a good amount of importance.

“When I was growing up, 16 races was the number. In January I would get the Autosport sticker sheet on the first page of the magazine and I would stick it on the side of my desk, and every one of those Sundays was blocked out because those were 16 events.

“Now if you get to 21 and have triple headers, if a kid misses one they go, ‘Oh, there’s another one in a week’s time’. Each one is less of an event, and I think we run the risk of that.”

Chandhok also called for Liberty to keep “a good balance” in mind when seeking future F1 destinations: “You need that balance of modern circuits that bring in the money and income because that supports the sport, but you also have the historical races.

“And I think you need that balance [to include] street races. Baku has turned out to be a great event—great racing, good event to go to, looks good on TV. Singapore’s another one. So it’s good to have that balance, and also to go to Silverstone and Spa and Monza and places like that.”

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