Exclusive: David Coulthard issues positive verdict on Sprint as it returns for Sao Paulo GP weekend

f1 sprint

Sprint returns to Formula 1 for the third and final time of the season this weekend at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil, and former driver David Coulthard has exclusively explained to Give Me Sport why he’s a fan of the format introduced this year.

So far, we’ve seen Sprint take place at the British and Italian Grand Prix weekends, with Max Verstappen winning the first and Valtteri Bottas taking the second.

It’s added an extra competitive element to those particular events and, with just four rounds left in the championship now, this Saturday’s edition in the South American country could prove vital with points on offer to the top three and positions on the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix at stake.

Certainly, from Coulthard’s standpoint, it’s been a welcome addition to the sport, with him telling Give Me Sport exclusively:

“From my point of view, I look at it from two perspectives.

“One is from what I would have enjoyed as a driver and that’s racing. I always used to be left at the end of a Friday feeling, ‘what did we learn and what meaningful thing does that actually give us,’ in the majority of my career.

“When I started my career we had Friday qualifying so at the end of Friday we had something tangible and then the Saturday you had another qualifying so something tangible again, and then you had the race on Sunday.

“But that disappeared over time and so coming to the Sprint format it is giving more to the fans because it’s a meaningful result, it gives more to the drivers because, which one of the drivers will say they don’t enjoy racing? And it gives more to the broadcasters and the wider media because there is something to report on that actually means something. How many meaningful reports are written about Friday practice!

“I think it’s a win-win-win scenario. I know there have been some people that have been negative about it but that’s part of life. Some people, if you say it’s been a nice day, they’ll say well not really! There’s always going to be those that don’t appreciate change but I personally see change as opportunity and an opportunity to give more value to the people who pay for Formula 1 which is the fans and the partners.”

For sure, Sprint is here to stay for at least a little while longer yet, with Ross Brawn revealing potential tweaks including extra points for further down the field could be introduced, whilst six venues will host the format in 2022 compared to the three this season.

f1 sprint

It’s an evolving process, and for Coulthard, there are no real right or wrong answers and F1 tries to hone it:

“I think whatever format they come up with it’s the same for everybody, so I’m not going to suggest anything because it’ll be one in 100,000 suggestions and I’m not going to say any suggestion that ultimately carries the weight of Ross’ decision making powers is the wrong thing because I don’t think there is any right or wrong with this.

“I think it’s something that will evolve over time as the sport has. If you look at Formula 1 as a whole, it’s continually evolved over the period of the time it’s been in operation and they continue to tweak it. Some of the tweaks play out to be classic decisions and some don’t but I think what we’re living through is an ownership of Formula 1 and a desire to be open to change and try and come up with something that has real value going forward.

“I would actually turn it back to you and ask what do you think because your point of view is as valid as mine when it comes to what it should be and how far the points should go for example.

“Personally, I think just on points, the very fact you entered a Grand Prix there should be some kind of reward for that. I’ve never fully understood when I first started why the points only went to the top six and now they do the top ten, it’s almost as if you never entered the event.

“There should be a placing, whether it’s as simple as the points cover the placings I don’t know, but there should be something that acknowledges that you were in that event rather than just a footnote in the entry list but again that’s how the sport evolves, it started with just giving points to the top six.”

f1 sprint

As Coulthard mentions early on in our chat, what racing driver wouldn’t want to take part in more races over a weekend? It’s certainly an initiative he wishes was around when he was turning the wheel for the likes of Williams, McLaren and Red Bull:

“Absolutely [I’d like to have had something like Sprint.] 100%. Racing is what we love to do, racing is meaningful, it’s where the stakes are high and your decisions really count.

“In qualifying, you can have a bad day and still have a great race day. I’ve won I think from 13th or 14th on the grid so it’s not over until the chequered flag, but it is over at the chequered flag so therefore that is the meaningful part of the weekend.

“I think the Grand Prix, the big challenge of driving the streets of Monte-Carlo for example, is meaningful and meaty and physical and all the things that go with the Grand Prix but I don’t think that in isolation should stop us from having more short, sprint formats at more of the Grands Prix weekends because it’s a meaningful result, a mark in the sand that defines the results on that day.”

Tune in this Saturday for the F1 Sprint at the São Paulo Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports and highlights on Channel 4

News Now - Sport News