Sprint Qualifying races will be held at three rounds of this year’s world championship. Following a vote at the F1 Commission on Monday, the matter drew universal support from all parties. Though the plan still needs formal approval by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council before being put in the rule book, this should be a formality.
For now F1 has not confirmed where the sprint races will be, merely stating that there will be two in Europe and one at a flyaway event. It is understood that the first two sprint trials will take place at Silverstone and Monza. A final decision on the flyaway, which is expected to be Interlagos in Brazil, will be taken nearer the time.
Sprint Qualifying will see the drivers race against eachother over a 100km distance on Saturday afternoons of the selected Grand Prix weekends, with the result from Sprint Qualifying then deciding the starting grid for Sunday’s full distance Grand Prix. The new format will also see the grid for the Sprint Qualifying decided on Friday afternoon, using the current qualifying format, with cars entering Parc Fermé conditions from the start of Friday qualifying – while there will be one 60-minute practice session on both Friday and Saturday mornings.
It has also been decided that the top three finishers in Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying will receive points – three points for first place, two points for second and one point for third.
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali welcomed the move, which he felt would deliver an added entertainment factor for fans. “We are excited by this new opportunity that will bring our fans an even more engaging race weekend in 2021. Seeing the drivers battling it out over three days will be an amazing experience,” he said.
“I am sure the drivers will relish the fight. I am delighted that all the teams supported this plan, and it is a testament to our united efforts to continue to engage our fans in new ways while ensuring we remain committed to the heritage and meritocracy of our sport.”
FIA President Jean Todt added, “I am pleased to see that 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 was made possible thanks to the continued collaboration between the FIA, Formula 1, and all of the teams. 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.”
This is how the new format will work in full:
- 60-minute First Practice in the morning with two sets of tyres for teams to choose freely
- Normal Qualifying format in the afternoon with five soft tyre sets available only
- 60-minute Second Free Practice in the morning with one set of tyres for teams to choose freely
- 100km Sprint Qualifying in the afternoon with two sets of tyres for teams to choose freely
- Full distance Grand Prix with two remaining sets of tyres