Pierre Gasly explains why he thinks the new sprint format is a good thing – Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon also welcomes the changes
For the 2024 Formula 1 season, the sprint format in the premier class is being revised – again. After various variants have already been tested in recent years, another change will follow in the new season
The plan is for the first practice session, sprint shootout (each on Friday), sprint, qualifying (each on Saturday) and race (Sunday) to take place in this order in 2024. This leads to a very decisive change.
Because the sprint will no longer take place between qualifying and the race, as has always been the case in the past, it will be possible in future to modify the cars again during the course of the weekend – which was previously not permitted.
Most recently, the parc-ferme restrictions on a sprint weekend took effect on Friday afternoon with qualifying. After that, it was no longer possible for the teams to make major adjustments to the set-up
Gasly: Engineers should have the necessary freedom
Pierre Gasly thinks it’s “great” that this restriction is to be dropped in 2024. The plan this year is to release the cars from the parc ferme after the sprint on Saturday morning. This would allow further adjustments to be made for qualifying and the race.
Gasly explains: “Last year, we had amazing, brilliant, ingenious guys on a Friday afternoon who were forbidden to change anything on our car. And that’s what they’re paid to do, that’s why they’re the best.”
It was “a bit sad” that the engineers were practically not allowed to touch the cars after qualifying on a sprint weekend, “because they have a lot more to offer than just one or two clicks on the front flap,” said Gasly.
That was “definitely” missing in 2023, as the Alpine driver makes clear: “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of engineering, and I think it’s great that we still give [the engineers] the opportunity to constantly improve during the weekend. “
Ocon: There will be “a lot less mistakes” with new format
In addition, there was no time to “try out anything” with the previous format, explains the Frenchman. There was only a one-hour practice session before qualifying, in which, according to Gasly, they were “very limited”.
Most of the work had to be done in the simulator before the weekend. “And when you realized that you hadn’t started the weekend with the best set-up, the window of opportunity to react was extremely small,” he explains.
“So I think it was definitely the right change for the sport,” says Gasly, whose team-mate has a similar view. Esteban Ocon explains that the weekend will be “much more interesting” with a revised format.
There will also be “a lot fewer mistakes”, he says, alluding to the disqualifications of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc in Austin last year, which may have been partly due to the format at the time.