Pirelli puts the blame on F1 tracks for underwhelming sprint races after criticism about the tires

Pirelli blamed FIA for poor track choices in 2023, urging better overtaking opportunities.


Pirelli puts the blame on F1 tracks for underwhelming sprint races after criticism about the tires

F1 and Pirelli's contract runs till 2027. (Image via IMAGO)

The F1 Sprint format has been changed multiple times since its introduction in 2021. Until the end of 2022, the Qualifying would set the grid for the sprint. The finishing order of the sprint race would be the grid positions for the full Grand Prix on Sunday, which took away slightly from the importance of the Qualifying session.

ADVERTISEMENT

This version of the sprint race was detrimental for drivers who qualified well but lacked race pace, as they would drop back in the sprint. This was demonstrated twice in contrasting occasions, both in Brazil; when Lewis Hamilton won after qualifying last in 2021 and when Kevin Magnussen dropped back after taking pole in 2022. The format did not continue in 2023, as the FIA decided to improve it as more sprint weekends arrived.

The 2023 season maintains a separate format for the Grand Prix and Sprint. Each has its qualifying sessions, distinct and unrelated. However, there’s dissatisfaction with the sprints this year, with some finding them unexciting. Simone Berra, Pirelli’s chief engineer, faults the FIA for choosing tracks unsuitable for sprint races. He suggests opting for tracks with more overtaking opportunities to enhance the sprint experience.

I don't think we should change anything in terms of distance. I think it would be better to decide carefully which circuit layouts are best suited to hosting Sprint race. It's not an easy balance, because if the degradation is high the riders have to manage it, while if the degradation is low they can push, but there is no difference in pace because the degradation is low for everyone.
Simone Berra said, as reported by motorsport.com

The Sprint races have still brought some level of excitement to the weekends, as the events are more rushed with only one practice session. With limited practice, the teams have less of an idea about how the car will perform, offering the audience a more competitive spectacle. This worked in the Qatar sprint race, which was won by Oscar Piastri for his maiden F1 race win.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pirelli says lack of previous races in Las Vegas could be an issue

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is being held at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit for the first time, but more significantly, the circuit has never held a race before. Constructed only for F1, the track is brand new and has never been raced on before since its construction began in 2022.

Las Vegas GP
Las Vegas GP. (Via IMAGO)

F1 didn’t expect the track to be so cold for the Grand Prix, which might make it slippery for drivers. To tackle this, Pirelli is using lower tire pressures. Mario Isola, Pirelli’s motorsport head, highlighted the challenge of entering the race without knowing how cars will perform on the track. Adding to the uncertainty is the mix of new and street asphalt on different parts of the track.

Nobody has ever actually driven the 6.12-kilometre Las Vegas Strip circuit before, which is second only to Spa in terms of overall length this year, characterised by three straights and 17 corners. The surface will be a mix of the usual street asphalt, especially on the actual Strip, as well as other parts that have been completely re-asphalted for the occasion.
Mario Isola said, as reported by racingnews365.com

The upcoming F1 race in Las Vegas, the 59th ever on a Saturday, kicks off at 10 PM local time. The Grand Prix track layout has sparked both praise and criticism due to its long straights and crucial DRS zones. Drivers, including Max Verstappen, have only practiced on the virtual simulation of the track.

In case you missed it:

ADVERTISEMENT