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Brawn defends Monza F1 sprint race, saying it had “plenty of action”

The Monza sprint race has been criticised by fans and even drivers after a lack of action on the track.

The event also served to split title contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton on the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

Having qualified second and third, they will now be separated by the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on Sunday, with Verstappen first and Hamilton fourth. 

Valtteri Bottas won the sprint qualifying event on the road, but he drops to the back of the grid for Sunday’s grand prix with an engine change penalty.

“The whole weekend is evolving, we’ve got a three-stage event,” said Brawn.

“We’ve got quite a different complexion on the race tomorrow than we thought we had after qualifying on Friday. So I think it’s great in that respect.

“A little bit quiet at the front of the grid, but then you get that at races anyway. Plenty of action in the middle.

“Plenty of action at the start, we had a very exciting start. So I think it’s added to it, I think it’s added to the whole thing.”

Brawn agreed that greater tyre variety than in the first sprint at Silverstone, with more teams opting for the soft tyre, added to the show. Ricciardo and Norris used the alternative rubber to jump ahead of Hamilton off the start.

“Well, that’s what I think I mean, that this has brought a different complexion to tomorrow, McLaren made a brave decision,” said Brawn.

“The consequence was that they are now higher up the grid tomorrow. And, as people start to see what they can do in the sprint, then we hope they’re going to bring more variety.”

Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Asked by Autosport if fans would be disappointed that Verstappen and Hamilton were now split on the grid for Sunday’s race, he said: “I guess it depends which fans you talk to! But they were together today.

“Lewis made a bad start, if he’d made a bad start tomorrow, could be the race was over, but now at least he’s got an opportunity.”

Brawn conceded that the Monza event featured less overtaking than he had expected, although he’s convinced that the 2022 rules package will improve the situation.

“We’re optimistic that next year’s car is going to help a lot, but I must say I was surprised how difficult it was to overtake, even with DRS,” he said.

“This was one of the races we selected because we thought there would be more opportunity but, as the race panned out, that didn’t seem to be the case. So next year’s car will definitely be a step forward.”

Brawn stressed that this was always going to be an experiment over three events, with the last to come in Interlagos.

“We might find in Brazil we have a fantastic sprint,” he continued. “So it’s over three races, we want to judge it. It’s probably an element in this event that drivers take a little less risk. Because they know they want to be there.

“It’s unfortunate Pierre [Gasly] had his accident, but now he’s got a chance in the race that he wouldn’t have had if that happened in the race. So lots of positives that we need to work on and build for what we take into next year.”

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