Apr 29, 2023 4:07 pm
Today was the first time in Formula 1 where the new sprint format was set out, a qualifying this morning saw the grid form for the sprint race in the afternoon. Charles Leclerc grabbed pole position on Friday for the race on Sunday and this Saturday morning he took pole yet again to start first in the sprint.
Despite his heroic attempt to secure first and grab 8 points for the Scuderia, he would lose out to Sergio Perez who ended up finishing 1st, Leclerc would come second so still some points achieved before Sunday’s race.
Saturday Sprint Qualifying
Qualifying typically is always on a Saturday but this race week it was a different type of qualifying. The norm would be an hour worth of Quali but seeing as this is a sprint version it lasted just the 45 minutes.
A new tyre regulation was placed in too with each team being forced to use a specific set of tyres depending on the round of qualifying they achieved.
In S(Q1), all teams were forced to use only the medium tyre, you were given only 1 set and weren’t allowed to use another, this meant cars were constantly on the track and always attempting to improve on their fastest lap.
This was the same for S(Q2) in which everyone swapped to a new set of medium tyres and did the same again.
However, controversially, in Q3, everyone had to use a NEW set of soft tyres. Lando Norris who qualified P10 in Q2 meaning he got through, wasn’t able to participate in Q3 as he didn’t have a new set of soft tyres. This is fairly bizarre as it meant he had to just sit in the garage for Q3 and take the P10 starting position for the sprint.
Throughout the sprint qualifying, just like Friday’s Quali, we experienced a couple crashes. First was Logan Sargeant who clipped the wall going into the final part of qualifying, resulting in his car being broken and not able to take part in the remainder of qualifying despite him getting through into Q2.
Sargeant was very unhappy with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz as he believed he had gotten in the way, therefore meaning Logan couldn’t take the next corner properly resulting in him crashing.
Secondly was Charles Leclerc in the final run of Quali, while attempting to set the fastest lap he had locked up and went into the wall, no significant damage was done, just a broken front wing to be dealt with.
He was able to drive into the pit-lane and go in-front of his P1 board. A successful day for Leclerc but he will be hoping to score more points in Sundays race, especially seeing as how he starts P1 he might fancy his chances!
Underwhelming Sprint Race Raises Questions
Despite all the hype for this new sprint format, it has certainly raised some questions within the paddock and throughout social media.
A lot of people suggest that perhaps this isn’t the best of ways to go about it and maybe we should go back to the original format.
At the beginning of the sprint was where all the action took place. Max Verstappen and George Russell had their conflict, with Russell going into Max’s side-pod and damaging his floor.
Verstappen exclaimed his anger on the radio and post race to Russell. The exchange between both was fairly heated to say the least:
George: “I had no grip”
Verstappen: “Mate, we all have no grip. We all need to give a little bit of space.”
George: “I know, I know”
Verstappen: “But expect it next time the same, you know. D*ckhead”
The damage in Max’s side pod potentially could’ve cost him the win but we will never truly know how much the damage affected the car.
Yet despite Max’s anger, he crossed the line to take P3 and is starting P2 beside Leclerc in tomorrow’s race, a huge potential to extend his lead in the championship so it’s all to play for tomorrow.
Another bizarre incident was Yuki Tsunoda who collided with the wall, managing to keep his car in one piece, but his tyre had ripped off which resulted in a rolling tyre down the track! The stewards had acted quickly on this after the Virtual and then full safety car was released, they were able to get rid off the tyre and allow the remainder of the sprint to continue.
Baku always throws surprises in the air and it certainly is a race that can cause much chaos and excitement for the fans, many crashes and red flags this week have already happened but potential chaos lies ahead tomorrow.