“In the sprint races, for ten laps or so, I think it will be like this: give it everything in every corner, because your tyre pressure will be OK and your tyre wear will be OK. With the current level of bikes and riders I think it will be a very big group at the front, maybe seven or ten riders.
“We don’t know for sure, but it will be a very big fight, because also the bikes that usually struggle a bit on Sunday will be able to use softer tyres and do something more.”
Hopefully Marini is right. And it will be interesting to see how riders approach the sprint races, both this Saturday at Portimao and as the season develops.
For example, what kind of risks will riders want to take while, say, fighting for third on Saturday, which offers only one more point than fourth, when they know Sunday’s risk/reward ratio is twice as good? Because keeping yourself in one piece for the Sunday points bonanza will surely be the focus of any rider with more than half a brain.
My concern is for the riders, their mechanics and other frontline team staff. Recent changes in the Saturday qualifying format and the increasing importance of qualifying, due to the difficulty of overtaking, have pushed riders and their crews to the limit. I fear that we were already squeezing the last drops of blood, sweat and tears from these people, so how will they cope with a longer-than-ever world championship, twice as many races and a crazy Saturday format?