Sprint Race Qualifying Is Just One Way F1’s New CEO Plans To Attract ‘Non-F1 Fans’

Formula 1 has agreed to study whether it is a good idea to have sprint races on Saturdays and has set up a group to discuss the idea.

The members of the Formula 1 Commission were largely supportive of the idea of replacing a practice session with a sprint race to determine the starting grid for the main race on Sunday, but it is clear that more detailed plans are required. If all goes to plan, these details will be finalized in the next month and there will then be a decision before the start of the season.

The first step is to trial the idea and see if it is effective. F1’s new CEO Stefano Domenicali said that the series hopes to give the sprint race format a trial at Grands Prix at Canada, Monza and Brazil.

“Our job is to always look at ways to improve our proposition in terms of interest and commercial evaluation,” Domenicali told Autoweek. “The good news is that everyone agrees that we need to try to do something better to achieve this objective. It is easy to say no to any kind of changes. There is no risk, but I think it is worth going into deeper analysis to make sure that we can have a weekend with action every day.

“Sprint races are a different way of qualifying and then we have the real race. We will be fine-tuning the details of this proposition in the next weeks. We want to trial it at three races: Canada. Monza and Brazil and if the equation at the end of this trial is positive from the team perspective, from the driver perspective, from the media perspective and from a fan perspective then we can say: ‘Yes we will go for it’. This is a really a very transparent approach. It is the wish—and the will—to create something new which can attract more attention and generate more interest in Formula 1.”

Domenicali says that the goal remains to catch the attention of non-F1 fans and get them interested in the business. In this respect, the Netflix series Drive to Survive, which began in 2018, has been a great success, although Netflix does not publish numbers for the viewers on all of its programming.

“Netflix was something that was perceived at first with a lot of hostility from, let’s say, traditional broadcasters,” Domenicali says. “But at the end of the day, we saw the benefits of transversal promotion. We were catching the attention of non-F1 fans who started getting into the news of F1, to get deeper into the knowledge. So I think that should be the model that we need to develop the “over the top” platform for the possible distribution of our content with new fans.

“The OTT (Over The Top) business model is a platform that is building up and we need to see how to integrate our activity in the distribution of our content, considering that we cannot miss this opportunity.”

Does F1 need gimmicks to bring in new fans? Is sprint race qualifying a goofy gimmick or great idea to help bring new fans to the sport? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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