Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2022

Similar strategies make sprint races ‘not the most exciting’ says Norris

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In the round-up: Lando Norris says that the lack of different strategies in sprint races makes them ‘not the most exciting’.

In brief

Lack of strategies makes sprint races ‘not the most exciting’ says Norris

After the second sprint event of the season in Austria, Norris said that although the short races have generally worked out well for McLaren, their flat-out nature doesn’t always make for good racing.

“In general they’ve just been good for us. We’ve always gone forward, I think, in every single one,” said Norris. “I wouldn’t say they’re the most exciting because they’re just like at a period where you can almost push flat-out the whole time and therefore there’s not as much tyre deg and things like that between teams for much to happen.

“When you push flat-out it’s harder to do something different to the cars ahead,” he explained. “Especially when, in qualifying you’re split by a tenth. You’re not going to be able to do anything at all.

“But obviously the only people you could overtake were people who are out of position. So people who crashed or people who got disqualified in qualifying.

“Half the time I think will be exciting and good and then half the time not as exciting,” Norris concluded. “But every now and then it’s all something different. Which I don’t mind.”

Bottas Hungary for updates

Valtteri Bottas expects the next updates for his Alfa Romeo will be introduced at the Hungarian Grand Prix at the “earliest”.

Alfa Romeo sit sixth in the constructors’ championship on 51 ahead of Haas, having gone scoreless over the last two rounds in Britain and Austria.

“I think some teams clearly have made progress like, for example, Williams,” said Bottas in response to a question from RaceFans. “[Last] weekend they seemed better than they have been. Alpine, McLaren were a little bit faster than us, but that was not the case in Silverstone – so we need to keep progressing, otherwise we’re going to fall back.”

Asked if there were any upgrades planned for the coming races, Bottas said “I don’t think so. I hope so, but I think earliest will be Budapest.”

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Comment of the day

Following multiple reports of sexist harassment and alleged racist abuse at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, reader Stephen H hopes Formula 1 will not see a ‘soccerisation’ of fan culture at race events.

Given that last season really encouraged a tribal element akin to football, this is sadly an inevitable consequence. One of the best things about being an F1 fan is that you don’t have to have such a loyally and just enjoy the spectacle as a complete neutral.

When you look at just how incredible the crowd was at Silverstone this year, especially when compared to the behaviour of England fans at last year’s Euro final, it was something I’d always explain as one of the reasons F1 is sometimes better than football.

Now we appear to be losing that distinction, which really saddens me.
Stephen H

Happy birthday!

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On this day in motorsport

  • 50 years ago today Emerson Fittipaldi won in a close fight with championship rival Jackie Stewart at Brands Hatch

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  • 29 comments on “Similar strategies make sprint races ‘not the most exciting’ says Norris”

    1. Can’t wait for docuseries about Brawn GP!

      1. BRAWN GP:
        How I cheated and made a world champion out of a mediocre journeyman; available 2024

        1. cheated? you mean in his Ferrari time but i find Michel not a mediocre journeyman. What Honda found was just in the rules (even Williams had something like a double disf only brawns one worked much beter)

          1. What I find “mediocre” is the use of “cheat” when describing creative solutions that occurred to only the best minds and that are found by the competent body not to be inconsistent with the rules (the double negative has a meaning here). For this mediocre meaning of “cheat”, the right thing is to do the ordinary.

        2. Stevan Vasiljević
          15th July 2022, 21:16

          No cheating according to FIA. Aside from double diffuser, which lasted for one season only, let’s not forget that Brown GP car also had very sophisticated front wing. They pioneered creating vortices by the endplates and having complex horizontal fins, all of which became the norm for the next 10 years.

    2. COTD: I went to the Austrian GP in 2017, and did not see any bad behaviour from fans. Up to that point in my life, I had had the best F1 experience there. The general admission was fantastic and I had the chance to see cars on the turn 3-4 straight closer, and by the fence. I also got Hamilton’s autograph on one of my Mercedes caps despite being swarmed by fans trying to also do the same thing. That was really the most hectic part of the weekend , and no trouble besides that encountered at the track. I really wish getting a driver’s autograph would be the hardest and stressful part of a race weekend as a fan on the circuit, because getting harrassed just adds more danger and the requirement of being more vigilant of surroundings. I come to an F1 track to have fun, not to be in danger. Booing and screaming things at drivers is fine and understandable, but still not nice to see and hear from the outside. But please don’t bother fans who just want to enjoy and have their dreams come true. Not all people have the luxury of watching F1 races live at the circuit.

      I also remember watching 2 football matches on the stadium in Argentina, and the environment is clearly different. Maybe the organizers can do an alcohol check and sell no alcohol? Most of the incidents appear to be by drunk people.

    3. Norris himself says the sprints are ok – some will inevitably be good, and some not so good – yet the headline (unsurprisingly) states only the negative….
      I love it when reporting gets all biased to match the reporter’s opinion.

      I have no doubt that if asked about GP’s, Norris would also say that they are not all the most exciting either.

      1. Also Norris’ says that they “can almost push flat-out the whole time and therefore there’s not as much tyre deg and things like that“.
        As degrading tyres and fuel management are items the racefans here detest one would expect wide support and high ratings. Yet it seems that most people made up their mind long ago, and keep on giving it low scores*.

        * Silverstone GP scored 9-10 mainly because a late SC resulted in ‘artificial’ fights based different compounds/ages for the top drives.
        *Red Bull Springt scored 4-7 even though there was close racing and various ‘genuine’ overtakes based on man and machine only.

      2. Also Norris’ says that they “can almost push flat-out the whole time and therefore there’s not as much tyre deg and things like that“.
        As degrading tyres and fuel management are items the racefans here detest one would expect wide support and high ratings. Yet it seems that most people made up their mind long ago, and keep on giving it low scores*.

        * Silverstone GP scored 9-10 mainly because a late SC resulted in ‘artificial’ fights based different compounds/ages for the top drives.
        *Red Bull Springt scored 4-7 even though there was close racing and various ‘genuine’ overtakes based on man and machine only.

        1. Drivers may be managing less (even if this is not exactly what Max or Charles implied last Saturday), but most of the time there’s no real urgency to the sprints. They all know the proper race is on Sunday.

        2. Yep. Give the people what they want and they still aren’t happy.
          It reinforces my belief that some people do truly want F1 to remain dull, boring, predictable and repetitive.

          And if it is because there’s no sense of urgency or jeopardy, then again, there’s something wrong with F1’s fundamentals.
          The cars, the technical regs, the depth of competition, the points system…

          1. You’re so fierce in defending the sprint weekend that I’m starting to believe ‘S’ stands for Stefano Domenicali ;)

            Kidding aside: I’m glad there’s people standing up for it, otherwise you’d indeed only hear the critics and it’s good to have a decent exchange of opinions.
            I think the points Lando brings up are valid though. And I’m not seeing that much left out to support a specific narrative, but maybe that’s my biased view too. The only positive Lando mentions (or: is quoted mentioning here):

            “Half the time I think will be exciting and good and then half the time not as exciting,” Norris concluded. “But every now and then it’s all something different. Which I don’t mind.”

            And the only excitement, by Lando’s judgement, seems to come from people qualifying out of position – unless I’m missing something. That doesn’t really support the sprint race-format much..?

            1. And the only excitement, by Lando’s judgement, seems to come from people qualifying out of position – unless I’m missing something. That doesn’t really support the sprint race-format much..?

              By my judgement, that’s the main positive from many GP’s too.

              I don’t think anyone should really expect the participants in F1 to come out and say they thoroughly enjoy or prefer sprint races. Nothing about F1 is designed for sprint races – it’s a short endurance series by design, and the differences in machinery make it inevitable that the racing will only sometimes be good on its own without cars out of position.
              But that’s exactly what I like about it – it’s different. It’s a totally unusual challenge for everyone and it breaks up the usual monotony (if only with a monotony all of its own).

              I can assure you, if I was receiving financial gain from this like some are, I’d be much more enthusiastic.

            2. Nothing about F1 is designed for sprint races

              The question then of course, if F1 should change to be more designed for sprint races and/or what the core of F1 should be.

              I can see how races with cars out of position are higher rated, but I’m not sure if that would still be the case if those situations would be fabricated for the goal of entertainment.

              I can assure you, if I was receiving financial gain from this like some are, I’d be much more enthusiastic.

              One can only wonder what such a level of enthusiasm would look like :D

            3. I wouldn’t say F1 should change to be more well adapted to sprint racing – but I think it should change for better racing in general. F1 has a real issue against making technical rules designed for racing, where they usually just focus on being fast.

              Let’s be honest – if Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc started at the back of the grid every time for a whole season, you’d still enjoy watching them fight their way forward, wouldn’t you?
              ‘Manufactured’ or not (or by whichever definition you give to manufactured) – the on-track product and action would be totally viewing-worthy. It’s really only a matter of principle.

            4. Let’s be honest – if Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc started at the back of the grid every time for a whole season, you’d still enjoy watching them fight their way forward, wouldn’t you?

              I gave this a good thought because I don’t want to block new ideas outright. I can see how that would work if they are fighting in their own league, not over the same points as the rest. Regardless of that: it would their ability to overtake the only focus on their achievements, which is only a very specific part of what a racing driver should be able to do (and therefore too limited for me).
              If the only change is putting Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc at the back of the grid for entertainment purposes only I’d tune out pretty quickly. I’m not gonna say that F1 has a fair playing field to begin with, but that would really strip it from the last bit of sport. It’s similar to forcing Real Madrid to start every match 2-0 behind, because they won last year’s champions league. Maybe they’re very entertaining to watch when they’re trailing, but that’s not what the competition is about. And maybe competition isn’t always entertaining. There’s only beauty because there’s also ugliness, there’s no light without dark and there’s only entertaining races because of the boring ones.

            5. I can see how that would work if they are fighting in their own league, not over the same points as the rest.

              I used those three drivers as an example, of course – the entire field would ideally be inverted, as that is both fair (in a sporting sense) and more entertaining.

              it would their ability to overtake the only focus on their achievements, which is only a very specific part of what a racing driver should be able to do (and therefore too limited for me).

              I’d say the exact opposite. Overtaking in such a scenario comes in addition to all the other things (strategy, conservation, fuel saving, tyre management) they need to do in the race. The challenge is far greater than without, which is exactly why anyone who starts at the back now and finishes on the podium is generally given great kudos for their achievement. Far more so than the guy who started 12th and finished 11th…

              And maybe competition isn’t always entertaining. There’s only beauty because there’s also ugliness, there’s no light without dark and there’s only entertaining races because of the boring ones.

              F1 isn’t just competition though. F1 is very much entertainment – even more so than competition.
              It’s made for audiences, and without them it ceases to exist. It’s simply too commercially dependent to not be that way.

              And there are far too many boring races, in F1, IMO.
              It shouldn’t be the case that the odd one scores an 8, 9 or even a 10 – they all should produce a reason for an 8, 9 or 10.

            6. The trouble with the ‘out of position’ argument, eg coming from behind, is that some teams [the slower teams] have not taken racing as a team, eg blocking the track in boring DRS trains.

              In my opinion they should have a single mandatory tyre change in the sprints to add further jepedy, it would also mean they all drive flat out and not to conserve their tyres. At present its a sprint in name only.

            7. **have now taken to racing as a team**

        3. 90% of the highest rated races were influenced by a late Safety Car, which is quite sad..

          1. Which is a reflection of the deeper dissatisfaction that people feel with F1.
            What they say they want, and what they actually want, are often quite different.

          2. Alternatively, it shows that people like a kind of racing that F1 traditionally doesn’t offer, but other series do, but still watch F1, and not those other series. So the only time they see the racing they like is in unusual F1 races.

            Among other things, this shows what a fantastic job Ecclestone and his cronies did from the early 1980s to the 2000s. They made F1 the default racing series for pretty much the entire world, despite most of its racing being fairly dull. It also shows that Netflix was right to focus on the people, and the whole soap opera vibe they were going for perfectly matches what F1 was already selling audiences years, and indeed decades before.

            1. You make two good points there; I look forward reading it again In tomorrow’s round-up.

    4. Norris makes a good point, but I’m still perfectly okay with having Sprints.
      I’ve even begun to ponder another different format besides the standard & Sprint ones, which could be something like this: FP1-Time Trial-like session (Fri), FP2-QLF (Sat), & race or FP2 & TT the other way round for at least some events.

      Bottas Hungary for updates – I see what you did here.

      What’s the car green-ish car with Giesse & #1 on the sides?
      I can’t quite tell what racing car type but seemingly a two-seater.

      How could Piastri have raced in Monaco?
      No regular driver’s participation was under any threat beforehand, so I don’t get this part.

    5. The point Lando makes about the sprint is a point myself & many others raised as soon as they were proposed. I think everyone knew how bad they were going to be & the duller nature of the racing compared to the GP is something even those who are generally in favour of the silly sprint gimmick have admitted.

      The least interesting part of a race has often tended to be the periods where everyone is pushing closer to flat out while on the same strategy, Especially when the performance between teams/drivers is as close as it’s getting now. You need the variables in strategy & how things play out over the long haul of a GP to produce the best bits of racing & the silly short sprint gimmicks will never feature those so will never be anything other than dull.

      And then you have the times when a car qualifies out of position & makes up there places in the sprint which makes the GP that bit duller & also renders mistakes in qualifying less of a penalty & I don’t see how anyone could argue that as been a positive.

      Look at Austria, The more interesting part of the sprint gimmick was Sergio Perez & Lewis Hamilton coming forward and rendering mistakes from qualifying irrelevant as Sergio in particular was basically back where he should have been after the sprint gimmick. So his mistake in qualifying was rendered null & void & the opening stint of the GP also had that action from his recovery drive robbed from it.

      The sprint is awful & add’s nothing to the race weekend other than making qualifying feel that bit less exciting & devaluing the GP that little bit by robbing it of action & giving us a start & stuff the day before to make the GP feel that bit less special.

      I think the more silly sprint gimmick races we have the more people will see through it & the less popular it will become as the novelty starts to wear off. I think in a few years there will no longer be any silly sprints once that happens.

      #NoToTheSprint #DownWithTheSprint #SprintIsASillyGimmick #NoToGimmicks

      1. #Moresprints #ReverseGridSprints #YesToVariety #NoToRejectingThingsOnPrinciple

        I won’t bother going through all of that – but I will say that the way an out of position driver moves through the field in the sprint is not the same way they do it during a GP.
        I’ll also remind you that in the Austrian Sprint, Hamilton went basically nowhere for most of the time, and really had to battle to pass the Haas of Schumacher – only doing so when Schumacher fell out of Magnussen’s DRS.
        He fell behind Schumacher again at the start of the GP, and it took hardly any time to get around him then…. Didn’t even need any ‘strategy’ to do it, either.

        Regardless – in most cases so far, having the sprint has lead to a more intense GP than without.
        Of course, those who don’t see that likely just don’t want to.

        1. having the sprint has lead to a more intense GP than without.

          But it hasn’t.

          Other factors led to parts of the races following sprints been good although for the most part they were actually quite dull.

          Austria was a poor race until the late sc. Imola wasn’t an especially good race. Interlagos last year was quite dull until Max & Lewis started racing. Monza was a dull race before Max & Lewis crashed which brought out a sc. And even Silverstone last year was a pretty standard race once it got goingwith the only real interest been theMax/Lewis crash & Lewis having to recover from the subsequent penalty.

          The sprint race did not have any impact on the moments of excitement that those races scored higher because of.

    6. playstation361
      15th July 2022, 12:33

      I hope these sprint races in F1 has improvement for the fan following and gets fresher and fresher for the viewer to watch.

      There is a bit of difference which gives the viewer a bit of change between 3 days.

      I hope the F1 particular event gets more intresting as a carnival.

      This is getting more adjusted because of the calender day by day. Let’s see.

      I hope things get better and very intresting.

    7. The current sprint race format is boring. Since late safety cars make races exciting. Have 2 much shorter sprint races; 1 with inverted grid, 1 with grid from qualifying. Award points for all 20 positions in each race and the combined total determines the starting grid of the actual race. Ties are broken by the finishing position in 1 of the sprints.

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