SPRINT VERDICT: Procession fears rubbished during 17-lap dash

SPRINT VERDICT: Formula One sceptics will come to accept that there CAN be more than one version of the same sport after procession fears were quickly rubbished during thrilling 17-lap dash at Silverstone (but we just need more!)

  • The first ever Sprint in Formula One history delivered thrills at Silverstone 
  • Lewis Hamilton was pipped by Max Verstappen during the 17-lap session 
  • Sceptics had feared the event would be a procession but it was from the case
  • Like cricket, critics will come to learn that there can be more than one version 

Excitement levels were off the charts. History. That was what was to be made. Be here to see it and in the end 100,000 took heed of that rallying cry.

Not a race, the FIA stressed, but a Sprint. Nonsense. This was every bit a race and it took one corner to confirm just that.

Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle conjured up a rather odd analogy but one that nonetheless debunked the verbiage that this was no race.

The first Sprint in Formula One history certainly delivered on a scorching day at Silverstone

’If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck,’ he said. Quite.

People can sometimes be averse to change and the drivers, some of them at least, fell into that category this weekend. Lewis Hamilton, who started this Sprint first after topping Friday night’s qualifying session, wasn’t convinced as he predicted a procession void of action.

How he would have wished to have been right. Passed on the first corner by title rival Max Verstappen for the third time this season and he had no way to stop it. The fight was on and those procession fears were quickly rubbished.

Lewis Hamilton had feared that the event would be a procession ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix

However, the 17-lap dash was full of drama as Max Verstappen pipped Hamilton to pole 

So, after the 17 Sprint laps ended, Red Bull celebrating another win over Mercedes, had Hamilton been convinced of the new format?

‘We should do more like that,’ he said, after finishing second. ‘Maybe a different version of it in future because it makes the weekend even better.’ So almost, but not quite.

Those fortunate enough to have a space in the exclusive Paddock Club hospitality had drinks flowing, the sun was shining and Formula 1 served up everything it had hoped for from this 30-minute bonanza.

The track temperature scaled up to 48 degrees celsius and it was so hot that Verstappen’s brakes were literally on fire before the lights went out. Cue the drama.

Fans who arrived bright and early got to see the dress rehearsals in Formula Two as they hosted two Sprint races.

There had been criticism that the new event constituted meddling with the sport’s traditions

There were safety cars, shock spins and even a first time winner in the second instalment. It whet the appetite for F1 and while the fight faded out of Hamilton after he was passed heading into Turn 1, this mini ‘race’ more than delivered on the low bar some were keen to stick on it.

In a way there were a number in the paddock that gave the impression this weekend that they would not have been too upset had The Sprint backfired.

Jos Verstappen, father to Max, was dismissive of the idea to Dutch journalists earlier this week, Hamilton had raised his own doubts and ex-F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone hardly gave a glowing endorsement to what he saw as meddling with tradition.

The criticism to be levelled against it was the length. Seventeen laps in 30 minutes. It felt short, too short really. No sooner were drivers getting a feel for it were they seeing the chequered flag.

Yet sceptics will learn that there can be variations of the same sport, we just need more of it!

Understandably the FIA are keen to protect the integrity of the Grand Prix race but just look at other sports for inspiration and evolution.

Take cricket. Test cricket, to many the purest form of the game, co-exists with Twenty20 and now The Hundred. People can enjoy more than one version of the same thing.

If this was to be the advert to win over younger audiences, rather than the one by Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds to promote it earlier in the day, then it was a job well done.

Just give us more, not less, or The Sprint really is over just as it begins.

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