Alain Prost has fired a warning at Formula 1 officials regarding the sprint race and other changes as the Frenchman believes the sport must remain ‘traditional’. The Sprint Qualifying made its debut in F1 at three race weekends, running at the British, Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix.
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It proved to be a relative success and looks set to go ahead again with six events in 2022, although it was rather divisive among fans.
Many thought Lewis Hamilton’s excellent performance at Interlagos was exceptional as the seven-time world champion fought from P20 to finish P5 during the 24-lap sprint.
The Brit’s unbelievable showing saw many fans enjoy the thrilling aspect of the new format but four-time world champion Prost hopes the traditional version of qualifying remains in place.
The Frenchman believes Hamilton’s drive should be commended and not seen as a normal or common performance.
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“I am completely against the reverse grid [idea], for sure,” Prost told the In The Fast Lane podcast.
“Formula 1 should not accept that, even for the sprint.
“It’s not because Lewis [Hamilton] has done a fantastic race starting from last [in the Sprint Qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix] that we should think that it’s going to be the same every time and with every driver.
“That does not happen like this. So I am much more for the tradition, and Formula 1 has to stay the way it did.
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“I must recognise that we have more and more young fans, with the Netflix series [Drive to Survive], and we have attracted some young people, [the] young generation, which is fantastic.
“And they obviously like this kind of race that we have seen, the sprint race and Lewis’ race in Brazil, but Formula 1 has to stay more traditional.”
The 2022 season is set to be the longest in the sport’s history with 23 races scheduled, with the calendar beginning in Bahrain next March.
Prost has concerns about the extended schedule, citing the deteriorating effect on both personnel and fans.
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“Very difficult for the teams, very difficult for the people travelling, some of the mechanics, engineers, team principals that [are] running all the races, some not always in a good condition, if you can imagine that, and it’s got to be very, very difficult.
“And [F1] has to stay also exceptional. 23 races is a lot. I remember, maybe not this year, but the first time we had three races in a row. And even for me, I was losing a little bit of interest in a way, because it’s too close.
“It’s a compromise between the number of races, number of fans and obviously the money that you can generate.
“But if you have more success and you will bring more sponsors in, maybe we could have also a little bit less races. [But] it looks like it’s not the way that we are going.”
F1 will return in 2022 for preseason testing on February 23 before the opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.