Brawn 'nervous' as Hamilton predicts processional first F1 Sprint Qualifying race

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Ross Brawn admits he is "nervous" ahead of Formula 1's first Sprint Qualifying race at the British Grand Prix.

The event at Silverstone will be the first of three in 2021 to trial the new format, which sees a traditional qualifying session on a Friday, a 30-minute sprint race on Saturday, then the full Grand Prix as normal on Sunday.

This comes after Brawn led several attempts to introduce a reverse grid Saturday sprint race in recent years that ultimately failed, and he is hopeful this revised idea will deliver.

“I am nervous, it’s the unknown,” he told Channel 4. “But I think we put a huge amount of work into it, the teams themselves have put a huge amount of work into it, so I think it’s got the greatest opportunity of success.

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“The best thing ultimately that could happen is it becomes part of a Grand Prix weekend. Maybe not every race, but I think the thing that we want to stress is it’s expanding the weekend," Brawn continued.

"We have a great event on Friday now because we have qualifying, we have the Sprint on Saturday and then we have the Grand Prix on Sunday, which is the pinnacle event of the weekend.

"So we really try to add to it, but make sure we don’t take away from the Grand Prix."

Despite the optimism, some are still not exactly on board with the sprint race idea, notably FIA president Jean Todt. 

"Number one, we don't call that a race," the Frenchman said at the French GP last month. "I had part of the responsibility of not calling that a race.

"For me, the race is on Sunday. If you ask me if I'm a big fan of that, the answer is no. I don't think F1 needs it.

"But on the other side, if people want to try something, it's not going to hurt the race on Sunday.

"It will be a different way of having a starting grid on Sunday. So it costs nothing to try.

"I'm curious to see what will come out, but I'm sure that it will not damage the race on Sunday.

"People may say it was more interesting on Saturday than on Sunday, but that's not too big a risk for the image and for the credibility of the championship."

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While it is hoped the short 30-minute race will encourage drivers to be on full attack, Lewis Hamilton doesn't expect that will be the case.

"It will just be a train, probably,” he claimed. “Hopefully there will be some overtaking, but most likely it won’t be too exciting."

Once the chequered flag falls on Saturday, FIA race director Michael Masi revealed F1 will analyse and look at anything that can be done to improve the Sprint Qualifying format.

"It's been an absolutely collaborative approach since the start of the year," he said.

"So we've had numerous meetings, involving all the team sporting directors, ourselves at the FIA, and obviously F1 in developing, refining, leaving things for a week, letting everyone have another re-read and finding little bits and pieces.

"Everyone to be fair has a completely open mind that there may be things that crop up that no one has thought of, from any of us, but also an open mind that after the first event, let's happily review internally and see what did work, what didn't work, other areas that need to be refined."

And as for the future...

“We have to decide if this is something which we roll out completely or whether it’s just for feature events. So there’s quite a lot of discussion to have," Brawn admitted.

“What I’m really pleased about is Formula 1 is given this opportunity of three races to evaluate whether this is something we want to take forward. And I think that’s a really positive step from Formula 1 to do that."

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