McLaren is in favour of Formula 1’s new Saturday sprint race format having initially opposed a previous version of the proposal. 

The Woking-based squad did not support F1’s original plan to introduce reverse-grid qualifying races at some events in 2021, and the proposal ultimately failed to get off the ground following three separate pushes last year. 

But a fresh attempt from F1 to revamp the weekend format by having a new qualifying format - in the form of a Saturday sprint race - at select events in Canada, Italy, and Brazil this season has received “broad support” from the teams. 

Speaking at the launch of the MCL35M on Monday, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl confirmed his side backed the idea because it will not affect the competition artificially. 

“We from the McLaren side were supportive of that discussion and initiative,” said Seidl. 

“For us, as we have communicated last year, it’s simply important that when we speak about different race formats that it’s not something that will artificially affect the pecking order like the reserve grids situation, which is not the case with the discussion we’re having at the moment. That’s why we’re supportive.

“It’s also clear there’s now a working group that will lay out the details as quickly as possible because the devil is always in the detail,” he added. 

“But with a commitment from all the teams really supporting this initiative, I’m sure that’s something we can all overcome quickly. We’re actually looking forward to try something like this this year, and then see how we go from there towards the future.” 

A final set of regulations for the proposed sprint race idea will now be devised by a working group, with F1 hoping to finalise the format before the 2021 season gets underway in Bahrain on 28 March.

New McLaren signing Daniel Ricciardo is “open-minded” about the proposal after initially holding some reservations, though he wants to make sure that a sprint race win would not feel “diluted” compared to a regular grand prix victory. 

“At first I was a little apprehensive, but I do feel better at the thought of that, certainly [compared to] a reverse grid,” he explained. 

“Ultimately, if the best guys and the best teams are coming out on top, and it’s not manipulated or artificial so to speak, then I’m less scared of it. 

“Competition is what I love most, I would love to do more races and less practice, or whatever. In saying that, it kind of does go towards probably what I want. 

“But I think the biggest thing is, I want an F1 win to still feel as big as what it should be. I don’t ever want an F1 win to feel diluted or just somewhat lower than what it should. 

“As long as they do bring in another race on the weekend, as long as it carries the same value, then I’m certainly more open-minded towards that.”

 

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