The new sprint format, which Formula 1 implemented at short notice, will be used for the first time at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko has now revealed why the teams agreed to the plans in the first place. It’s probably because of the money.
Revolution in Formula 1: In Baku, the race weekend will take place in a new format for the first time. The goal: more excitement, more action. This should make the product more attractive for organizers and fans.
On Friday, the – ultimately only – free practice and qualifying for the main race on Sunday are on the program. On Saturday there will be a sprint shootout and a sprint.
However, the new format entails major risks for the racing teams. If there is a failure in the action-packed sprint, the drivers have to start from the back in the main race. In addition, there may be higher costs. Therefore, there were also great doubts among the drivers in advance. World champion Max Verstappen even threatened not to start again in the future if the traditional Formula 1 weekend was soon to be a thing of the past.
Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko announced on Friday before qualifying on “Sky” that the new mode was “already complicated”. “It’s risky if something goes wrong.”
If there are problems on Friday, “it will drag on throughout the weekend,” emphasized Marko, who celebrated his 80th birthday in a small group on Thursday. The Red Bull boss also went into the positive aspects of the sprint weekend: “For the spectators and the organizer, who has action all weekend, it’s a gain.”
Marko on financial compensation: “Sprint races are charged extra”
According to Marko, why the ten Formula 1 teams ultimately agreed to the plans despite the high risks has to do with the financial compensation. Although Marko also emphasized that the racing teams want to “help the sport”, it is not insignificant: “It’s no secret: the sprint races are charged extra and then there is an agreement faster.”
The teams are compensated by the increased revenue of the rights holder. Liberty Media takes a higher fee from the organizer, a certain percentage of which then goes to the teams via a fixed distribution key.
According to “Autosport”, the teams are allowed to spend 150,000 US dollars more per sprint race than is anchored in the budget ceiling. The FIA also covers accident damage up to 83,000 euros. Accident-related costs are not included in the budget ceiling. In addition, the racing teams receive an extra payment of 83,000 euros per sprint qualifying.