Horner Criticizes F1’s Sprint Parc Ferme Regulations

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner voices his dissatisfaction with the Formula 1 sprint parc ferme regulations, branding it a "joke".


By Ben Bush
Updated on February 2, 2024

Horner Criticizes F1's Sprint Parc Ferme Regulations

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner voices his dissatisfaction with the Formula 1 sprint parc ferme regulations, particularly after a contentious sprint weekend in Austin, branding it a “joke”.

In 2023, F1 adjusted the sprint race format for six races. The main grand prix qualifying was shifted to Friday afternoon. This was followed by sprint qualifying on Saturday, preceding Sunday’s grand prix.

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After the free practice session on Friday morning, cars are subjected to parc ferme regulations. This implies that teams must adhere to their chosen car setups, and there are stringent restrictions on any alterations for the duration of the weekend.

During the recent United States Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc from Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes faced disqualifications due to abnormal floor plank degradation. The sprint format and the protracted parc ferme regulations likely took both teams by surprise.

If teams need to modify their setups, they risk being thrown out of qualifying and must start the race from the pitlane.

Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull, expressed his frustration, labelling it a “joke” that teams are committed to their setups after merely an hour of action on Friday.

“For me, parc ferme is a bit of a joke. You have one session to set your car up. And then the engineers may as well go home at that point,” Horner said.

“So, that needs looking at and that I’m sure was a contributing factor to the ride height issues of the teams that fell foul of the regulations.

“Effectively, it’s just a long run on a sprint race. And there’s no real jeopardy to it, there’s no real incentive behind it.”

Horner’s leading driver, Max Verstappen, is not a fan of sprint races. He believes they should be eliminated, stating he derives “no pleasure” from securing victories in them.

The sprint format has seen mixed results. While it led to an exciting race in Qatar, it failed to impress in Austin, with tyre wear often influencing the outcome.

Horner suggests that F1 survey fans to gauge their feelings towards this format. After all, the initial goal was to enhance the grand prix weekends for the audience.

“We should really go to the fans and get their feedback as well. What is it that they want?” Horner questioned.

“I think it’d be interesting to look at the data at the end of the year of how popular the sprint race has been because, at the end of the day, it’s all about the fans.

“The reason we do sprint races is to try and provide more entertainment to create a more attractive event.

“We have to be honest with ourselves at the end of the year when we’ve got all the samples of the sprint races and say: ‘Okay, what can we do better? What can be learned? And how can we improve the spectacle?'”

“If the drivers enjoy it and find it rewarding, and the teams find it rewarding, then I think the fans ultimately will.”

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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