What is the new F1 Sprint Qualifying format?


Silverstone is gearing up for debut of new F1 Sprint Qualifying format for British GP

The 2021 F1 season is all geared up for the first Sprint Race of the season with a new format for the British Grand Prix.

F1 races are held over a 3-day session with practice, qualifying and the main race completing the event.

This time around, however, it is a whole different ballgame as F1 is testing out a new format seen in the lower divisions of the sport. In April FIA President Jean Todt spoke about the format saying:

F1 is showing itself to be stronger than ever with all stakeholders working together in this way, and much has been done to ensure that the Sporting, Technical and Financial aspects of the format are fair.”

“Formula 1 is seeking new ways to engage with its fans and enlarge the spectacle of a race weekend through the concept of Sprint Qualifying. It is possible thanks to the continued collaboration between the FIA, Formula 1, and all of the teams.”

The sprint race weekend format is as follows:

  • Friday morning – 60-minute Free Practice 1
  • Friday afternoon – Q1, Q2, Q3 sessions to determine the starting grid for the sprint race qualifying
  • Saturday morning – 60-minute Free Practice 2
  • Saturday afternoon – 100km sprint race qualifying
  • Sunday – Full grand prix race

Sprint qualifying races will be run over 100km, and will take around 25-30 minutes. Two one-hour free practice sessions will reduce to a single one-hour practice session.

In Friday’s first practice session, each driver can only use two sets of tyres, while the Friday qualifying session will provide drivers with five soft tyres sets. Teams will be able to choose thereon.

  • One set of tyres for Saturday’s practice session – decided by team
  • One set for the sprint race – decided by team
  • Two remaining sets of tyres for the grand prix, with teams determining the beginning compound

Points will go to the top three drivers. First place scores three points, second place scores two points and third place scores one point. The winner will receive a trophy in parc ferme, as in qualifying.

To bear the cost of sprint races damage, a sum of around $500,000 for the three events has been agreed with teams.

F1 Sprint Qualifying format
Drivers will see a tweak to this year’s British GP

It is unknown if the format will go on after the 2021 season. With three races, the FIA are planning to test out the new format and will evaluate results after the outcome.

If things go as planned, the format could continue into the 2022 F1 season, to add to the twists and turns of the calendar year.

Where will the Sprint Races be seen in the F1 2021 season?

As of now, there are three races this season, with the British GP going to be the first implementation of the format.

The official word from Formula 1 says that:

“Formula 1 is set to debut the Sprint Qualifying format at three Grands Prix in 2021, following an agreement reached between the FIA, Formula 1 and all 10 teams on the grid – with two European venues and one non-European one set to host the format, with those venues to be announced in due course.”

As per reports, there were suggestions that 2 out of the 3 races will be in Europe, while the other will be decided later. With Italy and Brazil as the favorites to be the venues, the schedule is looking exciting.

With the new format, it could also affect teams in following a new routine towards race weekends. With Mercedes and Red Bull in a tighter battle this year, the three races could be crucial in determining the Constructors’ and World Championship winners this season.

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