Strategy Group looks at Saturday sprint for third drivers

One of the ideas considered by the F1 Strategy Group for 2017 is a Saturday sprint race for third drivers.

The FIA said yesterday that  “several exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats have also been discussed and are being evaluated by FIA and FOM for a 2016 introduction.”

The third driver sprint would involve one entry from each team, with up to 11 cars – with the addition of Haas for next season – taking part.

The idea is that the top four finishers would progress to the Grand Prix on Sunday, and would be allowed to start from the back of the grid. Clearly these cars would also have to practice and qualify, which would give the teams extra track miles.

The complication is that teams would have to take a fully prepared third car to each race, and with the extra freight and crew clearly huge costs will be involved.

However the intention is that the sprint race would not happen at every Grand Prix weekend, and it would be logical for example to miss the early flyaway races when teams might not have enough new parts to fully service three cars.

An alternative path could be a sprint race for the race drivers which determined the grid for Sunday.

“I think it’s very embryonic in its discussion,” Christian Horner told this writer. “It’s good that there’s a discussion going on about that kind of thing. I think it needs to be fully and properly considered. It’s just ideas floating around at the moment.”


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13 responses to “Strategy Group looks at Saturday sprint for third drivers

  1. Mick

    I think the extra cost for the smaller teams will kill this idea in this format

    Why not change the format of the race weekend? Do something for 3rd drivers on Fridays using the main race car (but teams would have to be forced to run so they don’t opt out to preserve the car). Have 2 practice sessions for race drivers on Saturday and then have quali and the race on Sunday.

    More drivers would get F1 experience, teams could evaluate potential candidates and race day would be a bigger draw for visitors.

    Compressing the event for main drivers into two days would also cause more upsets to the normal running order due to technical gremlins and reduced time to optimise set-up and race craft. Upset grids usually create better races.

    • Peterg

      Mick, your idea seems a little more sensible in producing a upset starting grid. While I’m not sure it’s the solution, I have an open mind.

      However, the top four cars from the sprint race, starting at the back of the grid, is a perfect opportunity for the third car to block/interfere for the two primary cars when lapped in the race. I don’t get it.

  2. “Turd” driver racer? A bit crazy but why not?

  3. Peterg

    Food for thought. While I too am a little under excited with racing this season.

    Is Mercedes domination any different to those early 2000’s Ferrari all-conquering seasons? If I recall, in 2004 Ferrari walked off with nearly every race.

  4. Brian

    Without adding a third car to the mix for all of these new weekend options, you’re just adding many more miles on motors that they are already trying to make last “forever”. I’m just trying to imagine Lewis Hamilton being told that Mercedes’ new “associate driver”, Justin Bieber, will be using his car for this morning’s novice race. “Relax, Lewis, we’ll hose it out before your turn comes.”

    Not gonna happen.

    • GeorgeK

      I’m with you on this one Brian, extra races mean more engines AND extra cars in case of collisions.

      Stop putting lipstick on the pig , get back to what we did before devolving into a pig.

  5. DaveyM

    This is a gimmick too far…

  6. A third driver race (say 50kms?) could be interesting, it makes me think of the Jim Clark trophy in 1988. Why not use a 5th engine for the 3rd driver and extra spare parts if there’s a crash.. thus keeping it to 2 cars?

    Adding them to the race adds incentive, but I can’t see the non-strategy group teams liking that; a 3rd Mercedes would leave them all in the dust.

  7. Glen

    Here’s how it will work:

    Everyone (or maybe just everyone who wants to) builds their third cars, driven by third drivers, in the the Third Driver World Championship. The top few even get to compete in the full race. Good for them!

    Then a couple of teams go bust. Well never mind, because those top few cars are already there so they make up the numbers for Bernie’s contracts. How lucky is that!

    Then a few more teams go bust and more numbers need to be made up for Bernie’s contracts. Well that’s okay, because all the third cars can just be entered into the full race. I mean, the objections were the cost and practicality of building, transporting and running the third cars, plus how they’ll take points away from other competitors, but the cars are already at all the races and nobody objected to a few of them competing in the main race. Plus all the smaller teams are gone, so points can’t be taken away from what doesn’t exist. Phew, it’s almost unbelievable how much good luck is going round!

    So now all the small/poor teams have been eliminated, along with any objections to third cars making up the numbers, fewer teams are taking Bernie’s “hard earned” money, and Bernie’s contracts are still valid. Ta-da! It’s just like magic!

    Hey, I’ve just thought of a name for this trick; ‘Three Car Bernie’.

    • Paul

      Why can’t they just use the previous years cars for the third driver – teams spend millions developing cars to be used for 65 days or so and then they are consigned to the scrap heap. Teams will have spares for the cars and as they were used the year before the driver can still be judged on pace as the cars a known quantity.

      • I don’t know if that’s easier, really… probably few of the parts are interchangeable with this year’s car, they’re surely running different software, setups may be completely different, they may have ten rear wings leftover from last year but no front wings, etc., etc…. they’d end up needing to bring an additional “test team” to the races just to support the old car.

  8. petes

    Idea stinks.

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