Mika Hakkinen has praised Stefano Domenicali for experimenting with the Formula 1 race weekend format ahead of the first sprint race of the season.
The FIA ratified changes to the sprint format, announcing on Tuesday the debut of a ‘Sprint Shootout’.
From the Azerbaijan Grand Prix onwards, sprint weekends will see a qualifying session on Friday which sets the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.
Second practice on Saturday has been scrapped, and replaced by another, shorter qualifying session known as Sprint Shootout.
Mirroring the standard qualifying session, Sprint Shootout sees reduced session times with tyre choices restricted to Mediums for Q1 and Q2, with the Soft compound only permitted for Q3.
Two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen has voiced his support for these changes.
“It’s brilliant to see how popular Formula 1 has become and I believe F1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali is right to experiment with [this] new form,” he wrote in his column for Unibet.
Hakkinen pointed at the loss of practice time as a particular area of interest which could test both teams and drivers.
“With only one practice session on Friday before the teams move into qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix, there is very little time for teams to gather data and play with set-ups.
“There is no possibility of getting the usual overnight support from the factory before heading into qualifying, so you need a really good baseline set-up and a driver who feels confident in the car.
“Where I feel the Sprint format has the potential to really affect Sunday is if a driver has a big accident of the kind in which the gearbox or engine suffers damage, or where a penalty hits a driver’s grid position on Sunday.”
Hakkinen believes that the changes put greater emphasis on the Sprint as a standalone race which will change the approach of teams and drivers.
“The 100kms Sprint Race takes on a different perspective for the teams and drivers since it no longer sets the grid for Sunday, and I think that is a fantastic move.
“F1 is introducing this to create more excitement for fans, spectators and TV broadcasters, and I really think it will work. The teams are already quite nervous about the potential for extra damage!”