Vettel: Sprint qualifying winner shouldn't get pole status


Sebastian Vettel has criticised F1's new qualifying format and the awarding of pole position to the winner

Sebastian Vettel, 2021 GB GP

With 57 poles to his name, Vettel isn't a fan of the new format giving stats out to the winner

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel says that the awarding of pole position to the winner of F1’s new Sprint Qualifying format is wrong and goes against the history of the sport.

Formula 1 will trial a new qualifying format this weekend at Silverstone with qualifying on Friday not awarding outright pole but setting the grid for a short race. That subsequent sprint race will decide the starting order for the British Grand Prix.

Speaking ahead of the weekend, Vettel said that the pole position stat should be awarded to the fastest driver across a single lap in a qualifying session rather than the winner of a race despite the winner getting to start from the first grid slot.

“It gets a little bit confusing but obviously, it depends if this is a one-off, then it doesn’t do much harm but if we end up having 10 sprint races next year, or in the future then I think it’s just a bit weird,” Vettel said.

“Pole position should go to the guy who goes fastest in one lap, and then we call sprint qualifying ‘sprint race’. So they can make up a sprint pole or something, and it’s just a new discipline.

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“They didn’t have it 50 years ago and now we have it so then we just add a new column to the system.”

With the race setting the grid for Sunday, there is the risk of a crash or incident putting a driver at the back of the grid for the main race but that isn’t something Carlos Sainz says will be an issue when the lights go out on Saturday.

“Honestly, knowing Formula 1 drivers and the way we act in starts, I don’t think for those first six or seven corners we are going to think too much about Sunday, at least me,” the Spaniard said. “I think I’m gonna just go for it. But once the race settles down, yes, maybe we start thinking about Sunday.

“I don’t think approaching Turn Three I’m going to be thinking ‘oh, the race is tomorrow,’ that’s how I see it.”

The format is set to be trialled at a further two events this season but F1 managing director of motor sport Ross Brawn is confident that it can be a success despite reservations from some.

“These guys are incredibly competitive. And I believe that the sprint will be a very competitive event. And we’ll have no fears of drivers driving round in a conservative way,” Brawn said.

“We don’t truly know. I’ve made this slightly bizarre comment, I think these guys would race each other with shopping trolleys in the supermarket car park! They’re just so competitive, these guys, they’re almost unique in their competitiveness.”