• Andy Marston

Sprint Race: Formula 1 continues to innovate at pace to engage fans.

The proposal by Formula 1 to introduce sprint races as a new qualifying format at selected Grand Prix has apparently been received negatively by some fans.

However, the move is likely to go through. “All teams recognised the major importance of engaging fans in new and innovative ways to ensure an even more exciting weekend format,” said Formula 1 in a statement.

Matt Roberts, Director of Research and Analytics at Formula 1, in an exclusive interview for the NEW Sports Pundit Podcast, explains that, “Research and data helps to inform decisions, it doesn’t make decisions.”

“There have been times fans haven’t been massively positive about something. For example, the fastest lap point we did at F1, it wasn’t overwhelmingly supported by fans when we put research out there and asked people, yet now, in polls and surveys, it’s really favoured massively,” he continued.

“So, I think you can’t always rely on fans telling you what to do next, sometimes you do need to take that gamble,” Roberts concluded.

This could potentially be one such moment. That is because Pierre Gasly’s win at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza was voted as fan’s favourite race of the season - by a landslide. The two standing starts and surprise front runners were what reignited the debate about using sprint race formats in F1 in the first place.

This poses an interesting question about when sports rights holders should listen to their fans, and when they need to over-ride fan sentiment for the good of innovation and progress in their sport. And Formula 1 are yet again proving an excellent example of this.