Jeroen Bleekemolen, Dutch racing driver and F1 analyst, believes that even though sprint races do not belong in Formula 1, we should accept them. The Dutchman believes that we can no longer get rid of sprint races and should therefore make the best of it. Bleekemolen also admits that although the sprint races do not fit Formula 1, they can be quite fun.
The F1 analyst has mixed feelings about the sprint races. ‘We grew up with Formula 1 in which the Grand Prix on Sunday was the most important race. And because of the sprint format, there is suddenly an extra race during a weekend,” he says in his column on Formula1.nl. ‘Even though we’ve had this format for a while now, it still feels a bit strange. It’s just not part of Formula 1,” he adds.
Still quite fun
Yet Bleekemolen acknowledges that sprint races are not all negative. “To be fair, a sprint race adds something extra and provides a spectacle,” he admits. ‘As a motorsport fan, I obviously don’t mind watching an extra race. Moments that keep you on the edge of your seat, who wouldn’t want that?’ he says.
Bleekemolen has accepted that sprint races are part of Formula 1, but he hopes that Formula 1 does not change even further. ‘Whatever we think, these sprint races are here to stay. But let’s not add more to the calendar: six, like now, is a good number for 24 Grand Prix weekends,” he explains.
The future of sprint racing
Although the sprint races can be quite fun and have added value to the weekend, Bleekemolen believes that the format of the sprint races needs to be adjusted. ‘A large cash prize, reverse starting order, or making it a separate championship’, he mentions as examples of suggestions to improve the sprint race weekends.
Bleekemolen thinks the last option is best: make it a separate championship. ‘That gives it an extra dimension and gives drivers something to fight for besides the world championship. It then takes on more meaning and adds value,” he explains.
In addition, the Dutchman believes that careful consideration should be given to which circuits will have sprint races. ‘They don’t belong on circuits where you can total your car with a small mistake. Because then the drivers may be particularly inconvenienced by the sprint race for the rest of the weekend,” he says. According to him, Brazil and Zandvoort, for example, are not ideal circuits for sprint races.