FORMULA ONE’s plan to host more sprint races this season have got off to a false start.
The 30-minute ‘sprint qualifying’ sessions were used to determine the grid for the British, Italian and Sao Paulo GPs last year – races which saw plenty of controversy.
Lewis Hamilton smiles after finishing first in the sprint qualifying session at SilverstoneCredit: AFP
While the Saturday sprint races were largely uneventful, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided on the Sunday GP at Silverstone and at Monza, while Hamilton battled back from a total of 25-grid penalties to win in Brazil.
F1 quickly hailed the short races a success, with F1 boss Ross Brawn wanting a total of six in 2022.
However, F1 teams are using the extra races as leverage to increase the budget cap.
Some team bosses are arguing that the extra races, no matter how short, incur extra costs and risks.
And with the budget cap reduced by an extra £3.7million this year to £103million, team’s are not willing to budge.
It means that the discussions over the sprint qualifying for the season still remains unknown, while issues such as points and recognition of pole positions are still being thrashed out.
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And with the new F1 season kicking off on March 20th in Bahrain, time is running out to get the rules finalised in time.
Meanwhile, Hamilton has been accused of trying to get FIA race director Michael Masi sacked.
Dutch sportscar driver Jeroen Bleekemolen said: “Hamilton is trying to increase the pressure on the FIA motorsport federation and is powerful.
“I think he wants to get some people out of there, like race director Michael Masi.
“Lewis wants to turn it upside down. He can do that. He has a lot of influence as the greatest of all. Some people will disappear.
“His opinion is noticed and everyone is talking about it – that puts pressure on the FIA.
“They have to intervene and make changes. The FIA has to come up with a good story, otherwise Hamilton’s first words will not be what the F1 leadership would like to hear.”