British GP: F1 drivers on Sprint 'unknown' and 'high risk' new format ahead of Silverstone debut
New-look schedule sees qualifying take place on Friday at 6pm before F1 Sprint debut on Saturday at 4.30pm, with showpiece British GP on Sunday at 3pm; Watch the whole Silverstone weekend all live on Sky Sports F1
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 16/07/21 10:36am
Formula 1's stars are relishing taking on the Silverstone "unknown" this weekend as the British GP debuts an all-new format, with drivers describing the unique two-race schedule as "exciting" and "high risk".
Anticipation has been building in the paddock this weekend ahead of the maiden F1 Sprint, which is transforming the usual format.
All live on Sky Sports F1, qualifying takes place on Friday night at 6pm, before a short 17-lap race on Saturday at 4.30pm to set the grid for Sunday's showpiece British GP at 3pm.
It's a must-watch weekend and it also presents quite the challenge for the 20 drivers, who offered their thoughts on the new format ahead of its maiden F1 voyage.
Lewis Hamilton: We needed to try something new
"I'm excited about it. I've been complaining about the format for a long time, the one we have, because it's been the same four days for years.
"I love that they're trying something new, hopefully whatever we discover this weekend, we can be more dynamic in these other races moving forwards, and make the sport more exciting moving forwards."
Fernando Alonso: Sprint will be 'high risk'
"In Sprint Qualifying, there is a high risk in that race. Because any problems you may have, any contact or whatever, we have an implication on the Sunday race if you start at the very back.
"So we need to risk, yes, take every opportunity and make some places, but at the same time with a bigger margin than the race on Sunday."
George Russell: Ready for opportunities
"It's definitely going to be interesting. I think it's all a bit of an unknown for everybody, but we're in a good position.
"I think there will be a lot of midfield drivers taking a bit of caution in that [Sprint] race because they will just want to finish and be in a good position for Sunday's race.
"For us who are just sort of fighting in the P12 to P15 range, it probably offers an opportunity to go slightly more on the attack and take advantage of those drivers who are just trying to secure a sensible place for Sunday. There's always opportunities and we've got to be the ones to make the most of it."
Sebastian Vettel: Something new can be exciting...
"It's going to be a bit weird, no? You have to be straight on it right from the start so it should be exciting. It's something new, and something new can be exciting. We'll see how it turns out, lots of unknowns but let's give it a go. I think the key is you finish the race, otherwise you start last for Sunday.
... but 'pole' shouldn't be awarded to Sprint winner
"Pole is the fastest lap time achieved, or the fastest lap time in qualifying. It gets all a 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. Pole position should go to the guy who goes fastest in one lap."
Daniel Ricciardo: Be cautious or take risks?
"If you start at the front then you might be a little, I don't want to say cautious, but you may not take as many unnecessary risks, whereas if you're a bit further back you see it as an ample opportunity to gain some positions at the start.
"My starts have been good this year so I'm embracing having a chance to have two race starts this weekend and go from there.
"I'm excited, I think it's good we're experimenting and trying to improve the sport. Whether it's great now, it doesn't mean it can't be great in the future."
Charles Leclerc: Understanding the car straight away key
"Practice will be crucial, I think it will be very busy but very, very important to try and understand the car, try to do the lap setup work before qualifying and then that's it, you get to stay with that car for the rest of the weekend.
"So it's very important to set up your car for the weekend. It's one of our strengths, though, we are very good at preparing the car so hopefully we can take advantage of that and have a good weekend."