Toto Wolff criticises new race weekend changes

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has criticised changes to the weekend schedule.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 boss, Toto Wolff, has voiced his criticism of MotoGP’s introduction of the new Sprint Race format for the 2023 season, as well as the modified weekend schedule. 

The Sprint Race format, inspired by Formula 1 and the WorldSBK Championship, was implemented this year to address declining spectator numbers and TV audiences. 

Unlike F1, MotoGP’s revised format applies to all 20 rounds on the calendar, featuring a second, shorter race on Saturdays.

While the response from MotoGP riders has been mixed, with some appreciating the increased opportunities to race and score points, concerns have been raised about the physical toll and the heightened importance of the Friday Practice sessions in determining qualification. 

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Nevertheless, the dynamic and action-packed racing has had a positive impact on spectator numbers, with noticeable growth in Saturday attendance, according to Dorna, the commercial rights holders.

However, Toto Wolff does not share the enthusiasm for the new format. 

During the recent Austrian Grand Prix weekend, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 boss was asked for his opinion by Austrian publication Tiroler Tageszeitung. 

Wolff expressed his strong belief in traditions and conveyed his difficulty in understanding the MotoGP Sprint Race format, although it appears that his lack of effort to research race times may contribute to this confusion.

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“I can only speak for myself, but I strongly believe in traditions, therefore always knowing that the start of the race will be on Sunday at 3 pm,” Wolff stated. 

However, his comment seemed to overlook the fact that MotoGP has announced two grands prix to be held on a Saturday in 2024. 

Furthermore, he criticised MotoGP while admitting his admiration for the sport, stating, “I follow MotoGP, I like it a lot, but there are so many things that I can’t understand.”

Wolff further highlighted the inconsistency in rider opinions, saying, “On Saturday, the rider complains, but on Sunday, he is happy again. 

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“He can’t keep up anymore.” 

Despite his dislike for the Sprint Race format, Wolff’s comments appear somewhat ironic, considering that Formula 1 took nearly a decade to agree on adding Sprint Races and limited their occurrence to only six races in 2023, with separate qualifying sessions.

While Wolff’s criticism of MotoGP’s new format is scathing, it is worth noting that MotoGP has successfully attracted larger crowds, particularly on Saturdays.