Formula 1

The New Sprint Race Rules Explained

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Credit: MercedesAMG Archive/Steve Etherington

The British Grand Prix on Saturday will host the first of a series of three Sprint races that is being trialled in the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The 100 kilometer race is equivalent to seventeen laps at the Silverstone circuit where the lap distance is 5.891 kms. If we take the average lap time to be 1m30.000s, the duration of the race is likely to be under thirty minutes.

If there is a red flag situation, the race can be stopped and restarted. The total race duration is limited to ninety minutes from the start of the race.

The top three finishers in the Sprint race will be awarded points. The winner will get three points, second place will get two points, and third place will get one point. The full points will be awarded if atleast 75% of the race distance is completed.

So the oft-repeated cliché that there are no points awarded on a Saturday at a Grand Prix weekend does not apply at the three Grands Prix with Sprint races this season. The Italian Grand Prix is likely to be the second race to experiment with this new format.

The Pirelli Tyre Choices

There will be 12 sets of the Pirelli slick tyres, instead of the usual allocation of thirteen sets. Every driver will have two sets of the white-striped hard tyres (C1), four sets of the yellow-striped medium tyres (C2), and six sets of the red- striped soft tyres (C3). In addition, up to six sets of Intermediates tyres and three sets of full wet tyress will be provided in case of wet weather conditions.

During the Friday qualification session only the soft compound tyres can be used. For the sprint race, the drivers have a free choice of tyres to start the race. The drivers are likely to choose the medium or hard compound tyres.

A pit stop is not mandatory, but the drivers are allowed to make a stop in case of punctures or damage. In case of a wet Sprint race, the drivers can use the intermediate tyres and the teams can return the used set and it will be replaced with a new set.

All the drivers are again allowed to have a free choice of tyres to start the race. But the rule of atleast using two different compounds of tyres during the race applies.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Starting Grid for the Race

The winner of the Sprint race will be officially awarded pole position for the race on Sunday. The grid for the race will be decided based on the results of this Sprint race.

In case of drivers not finishing the Sprint race, they will line up behind the classified finishers in the order of most laps completed. When drivers have completed the same number of laps in the Sprint race, their starting position in that race will be used to determine the grid positions.

Parc Ferme Conditions

The car will enter Parc Ferme conditions when they start qualification on Friday. Some limited reconfiguration changes are allowed for the second practice session on Saturday afternoon (FP2), before the Sprint and Grand Prix race.

For safety reasons, brake-related material and brake ducts can be replaced by new materials after qualification. If the ambient temperatures change by more than 10 degree C, adjustments can be made to the power unit and other cooling elements.

If cars suffer damage, teams are allowed to replace like for like with new components. If they do not have the same specification of the component, they can ask for permission to replace it.

Between qualifying and the Sprint race, teams are permitted to change or adjust suspension elements, alter camber, alter toe or ride height of suspension components on the list in the regulations.

The teams have been awarded an extra $ 500,000 for the cost of the sprint races with the cost cap in effect this season. The teams can also apply for permission for an increase on that allowance in case of significant accident damage.

The Strategy

This is a second opportunity for drivers who did not qualify well to aggressively make places to move forward for the starting grid in the main race. But if they are too aggressive, they are likely to end up at the back of the grid.

For the top drivers starting in front, a mix of aggression and caution is necessary to protect their grid positions for the race. So this is an unpredictable new experiment for Formula 1.

Based on the results of the three Sprint races this season, the plans for 2022 for this new format will be determined.

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