Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019

F1’s new plan for three Saturday sprint races in 2021 faces Thursday vote

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1’s latest plan to introduce sprint races will be put to a vote at Thursday’s F1 Commission meeting.

The sport’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media wants to add the extra races at three rounds on the 2021 F1 calendar as a trial to evaluate whether they should be used more widely next year.

Under the proposal for the three chosen weekends, qualifying would take place a day earlier, on Friday. This would decide the grid for Saturday’s sprint race, the result of which would in turn set the starting order for the usual Sunday grand prix.

The sprint race would be considerably shorter than the main event, in order to fit into the one-hour time window typically reserved for qualifying.

Further details of the plan, including whether sprint races should award championship points and what rules concerning tyre strategy might be imposed, are yet to be decided and will be discussed on Thursday.

Adding sprint races is seen as a way of increasing the entertainment value of race weekends by offering more competitive sessions. If their introduction this year goes ahead and is deemed a success, more may be scheduled for the 2022 F1 season.

The races at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Canada), Monza (Italy) and Interlagos (Brazil) have been earmarked for the potential trials, RaceFans understands. The two events in the Americas are broadcast in the late afternoon and early evening in Europe, meaning the new sessions could attract significant audiences.

Formula 1 has previously tried to win support for sprint races including grids decided by the reverse of drivers’ championship positions. However those plans were voted down by teams on three separate occasions over the past two years. New Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali confirmed last week “reverse grid is over” in their latest effort to introduce sprint races to grand prix weekends.

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78 comments on “F1’s new plan for three Saturday sprint races in 2021 faces Thursday vote”

  1. Pedro Andrade
    9th February 2021, 7:33

    They will beat us through sheer persistence alone… Go on, just try it already and be over with.

    1. They sure are trying to do so! I guess they will then compare these to last years (or the year before that) qualifying and conclude that there were more people watching (which makes sense, since it has novelty value right now) and again vote to replace qualifying with this, I guess.


        1. Bruno Verrari
          10th February 2021, 0:19


    2. Coventry Climax
      9th February 2021, 13:44

      I think it’s already decided that this is what’s going to happen, Pedro. The democratic mumbo jumbo is just fake. They’ve shortened friday’s free practice already; ain’t that handy?
      I absolutely fail to understand it though:
      – It’s not compatible with shorter weekends in order to have more of them.
      – It doesn’t make F1 greener, saves nothing regarding fuel, tyres etc.
      – Since when is a commercial rights holder the one to decide on rules and formats?
      – Basically, it’s just extended qualifying. But qualifying was already ‘exciting’ (hate the word), and this not only dilutes it,
      it is pointless altogether because the grid will hardly change from this come sunday.
      – Why would teams go flat out in the sprint race, if the speed-order is already decided in the friday qualifying session?
      – It will do absolutely nothing for the sunday race, which is what everyone seems to want to ‘spice up’.

      These are supposed to be intelligent people, but … oh whatever.
      My mom’s demented, I recognise the signs. I support her because she’s my mom.
      If F1 goes this way, I’m most likely out of here, even after so many years.

      1. Coventry Climax
        -I thought I had read that the shorter weekends thing has been meant mainly for the back-to-back, same-track races such as we just had last year due to the pandemic. I could be wrong but I don’t think they are stuck on this idea for post-pandemic normal times, not even for times when we have a race one weekend to the next but at different venues. Certainly if they were to adopt a new format where Friday is no longer just a practice day but also a qualifying day, then yeah they wouldn’t be doing any 2 day race weekends.
        -true it doesn’t make F1 greener
        -not sure who you mean by commercial rights holder…Liberty? or the race promoters? Anyway it will be the teams and F1 and FIA together that will decide on the rules and formats, of course to ultimately be signed off by FIA.
        -qualifying isn’t necessarily exciting to everyone, and all they are doing is posing questions as to whether or not there is an even more exciting way. They are not saying qualifying is broken. They are simply exploring if something is even better. Personally I find the current one hour qualifying session, as it is, full of too much time spent watching drivers sitting in their cars in their garages, with a flurry at the end of Q3.
        -not sure what you mean by speed-order. Friday qualifying simply sets the order for them to start the Saturday qualifying sprint race, for something has to determine that. Then of course they are all going to go flat out in the sprint race, because they want to start on pole or as high up on the grid as possible, as usual.
        -It is not F1’s intention with this potential qualifying format, to spice up the Sunday races. That is being done by the massive work they along with the teams have done and agreed, to get themselves away from clean air dependent cars from 2022 onward. This is about answering the question…Is there a more exciting way we can do qualifying. Personally I think there is.

        1. Coventry Climax
          9th February 2021, 22:22

          @Robbie: Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.
          The back-to-back races are there to accomodate the fuller calendar, right? So that’s the same thing, in my opinion.
          The commercial rights holders is the term straight from the article, second sentence. And yes, that’s Liberty. In my opinion, it’s the sports association (FIA, in the case of F1) that should set the rules and format, like in any other sports, and not the commercial rights holders, not the promotors and not even the teams themselves, for that matter. That’s not the same as being deaf to what they’re saying, but that’s another thing altogether.
          If you look at what’s being discussed here, the general consensus seems to be that there’s nothing wrong with qualifying as it is, and that it’s at least very often more exciting thatn the race itself, for the simple reason that driver go more flat out than on sunday, proven by the laptimes.
          Everything is being simulated these days, we even have ‘serious’ simraces and e-teams. How about trying new things there, before using the screwdriver to mess things up for real? (My attempt to use decent words only.) If you try, then your not sure about what it actually does, otherwise you’d just implement it.
          From your words I gather you’re just interested in the top-3 drivers, the ‘flurry at the end’, whereas I’m equally interested in how everyone else are doing. That’s where the sifting for the future takes place, generally, and where the development battle is equally -if not more- fierce. If your only interested in the goals, that’s fine, but then just watch the abstract please, instead of asking for a halved playing time. They’re not saying it’s broken, but… sounds the same as I ‘The book is perfect, but…’.
          By speed order I mean the order that is determined by qualifying. (That was the whole point of it, once upon a time.) The article says qualifying session on friday to determine the sprint-grid, and that in it’s turn determines the race-grid. Only those grids will likely be 99% the same. Come to think of it, once this is implemented, they will probably use this as an argument to try the reverse grid farce again. They will not go flat out in the sprint race, as there’s no real need to do so with the slower cars starting behind you, and also they’ll still be saving fuel, tyres, hybrid power (cruising towards the corners) and what not.
          I did not say that this is intended to spice up the main event, I meant to say that that is what they should be doing in my – and other’s – opinion, instead of diluting it.
          Despite the clean air dependency being said to diminish, Brawn has already said that DRS will still be ‘necessary’. Newey has recently indicated not being too happy with the new regulations. I can imagine why; he’s capable of designing an incredible beast of a car, but what comes out after the regulations are applied is a Citroën 2CV clone. Sure, clone X will be faster and slightly smarter than clone Y, but I’d lose interest too. Aboput the new regulations: You can blow up the Mount Everest, and do ‘massive work’ building another one, but what’s the point? Then the whole tendency to not design cars yourself but just copy-paste or even worse, buy, and be allowed to race it is a disaster. Fix that.
          Time will tell who’s right, you, getting your hopes up, or I, being very sceptical, to say the least.
          Is there a way to make qualifying more exciting? Sure, but this is not it, and, more importantly, it’s on no one’s priority list. Well, almost no one’s, as this idea comes from Liberty. This is just an idea to ‘improve’ revenue, not the sports. And it will not do the trick.

      2. Since when is a commercial rights holder the one to decide on rules and formats?

        Since they teams all signed new Concord agreements last year…FIA gets 10 votes, FOM gets 10 votes, the teams each has one for a total of 10 votes.

        Majority to get anything pass is 26, super majority (for in season stuff after season begins) is 28.

        What that means is this plan has the blessing of the FIA since it needs their 10 votes to get anywhere near 26. So no FOM can’t get this by themselves – they could if FIA and 6 teams agree however.

        1. Coventry Climax
          9th February 2021, 22:45

          You’ve paid attention, @Yaru, but I’m very well aware of that. What I meant to say though, is that A) it’s not the job of the commercial rights holder to come up with ideas for new rules and formats, B) this is not the situation in other sports, and C) I’m certainly not in favor of the current construction.
          Just look at the endless discussions and inability to reach consensus. It’s crippling.
          I would like to see an independent (!), transparent (no hidden deals), strong (immune to lobbying) and decisive FIA take charge, but unfortunately I can’t see that happening with Todt, Domenicali and the likes.
          It’s all way too incestuous to my liking.

  2. The US and Mexican GP also fall into the evening in Europe, so why not one of these two instead of Monza if the time of day is the sole reason for choosing Canada and Brazil? Not that it matters much on which tracks this experiment would occur. Better if nowhere in the first place.

    1. My guess is that they chose tracks that are quite solid, attrackt decent audiences already and also those tracks allow for some overtaking already @jerejj. Their argument to then replace Q with this wouldn’t work if the race turned out to be a bore!

    2. But you prefer morning races, so they wanted to be kinder to you and only pick 2 from 3…

      But seriously, Canada and Brazil are already in the category of at risk from Covid cancellation, so Monza at least gives them a definite race that will happen to push their agenda.

      I don’t see the point in this sprint race. All that will happen is they’ll qualify as normal, in fastest order, then finish in fastest order, meaning close enough the same grid for the main race on Sunday. The only anomalies will be any Saturday retirements and any top team who has a one off bad qualifying on Friday, will use the Saturday race to get back to their expected qualifying spot.

      I can see people not bothering with the Sunday race if Saturday is a stinker.

      1. @eurobrun Brazil is too early to judge this far in advance, although if it were to get cancelled again, it’d more likely happen due to legal issues regardless of the COVID situation.
        Canada’s fate will probably be down to entry restrictions if they’re still in effect closer to the event.

  3. I think it was a member of this website that came up with a better solution in that if/when F1 races twice at the same track, which is a possibility still, then mix up the second race with this trial if it needs to go ahead. Whilst I personally would love to see a sprint race; this is out of curiosity rather than any sporting aspect. It’s another gimmick that is being enforced on F1 which it doesn’t need.

    1. Yes otherwise f2 is gimmick free isn’t it. DRS, engine tokens, grid penalties, degrading tyres. I could go on for about 58 pages. F1 is about as pure as the yellow driven snow. But I agree its worth a shot, it’ll probably be terrible, then we can park it and the pearl clutchers can get back to having a go at Lewis.

  4. I really don’t get why they want to try and alter qualifying, when it’s one of the most well liked parts of the F1 weekend.

    We have seen in the past(2016) that altering the qualifying system isn’t needed and its quite difficult to be successful. The qualifying system used since 2006,is extremely well liked and it can still give us unpredictable results.

    I can’t see how using the race weekend system that F2 used till 2020,will be successful in F1. The main race will lose it’s value and its gonna be more difficult for teams/fans to keep up with everything (watching qualy on Friday). I do hope they try this system at one event, just to try the idea out,but definitely not in 3 races

    1. For trying a idea like this you should try it on 3 different circuits (street, highspeed low downforce and high altitude medium downforce)
      But how are they doing the sprintrace qualiflier ? Is it Friday FP1 then sprint quali then race quali?

      1. @macleod i guess they’ll have a proper qualifying session, with the starting time of FP being altered. Free Practice will be shorter in 2021 anyways, so i guess they’ll try to find a space to add another hour (for the qualifying session).

    2. @miltosgreekfan indeed, there is a strong whiff of tinkering for the sake of tinkering about all this. We should be shouting at Liberty to fix what’s actually broken in the sport (increase number of teams, simplify aero, improve the tyres).

      If they want to introduce sprint races, then introduce some non-championship events. Have some one-off trophies like the classics in road cycling – it could be both a great new tradition (the big one day classics in cycling are huge standalone events) and an opportunity to try different formats.

      1. Exactly @frood19, they should try their plan,but not during the championship.

        They could stay longer at Abu Dhabi for instance(after the season ended) and try this format. It would give them the opportunity to test their plan in a circuit that is notoriously difficult to overtake and thus, their test would have bigger value.

    3. And moving qualifying to friday would affect the viewers. Some of them are still working on friday and are only able to watch saturday onwards.

      1. +1 @qeki, its gonna be extremely difficult for a vast majority of fans to follow the Friday action,due to their daily program.

      2. On the other hand it DOES ad a lot of incentive to go and actually make a longer trip to a race if you were planning on going there, so that you don’t miss the action on friday (instead of arriving on friday during the afternoon) @miltosgreekfan, @queki.

        And it might also play into their hands with larger possibilities of streaming, delayed streaming etc that dedicated fans might be willing to pay for (i.e. subscribe to the OTT F1 service or to a pay TV station rather than getting it from a FTA broadcaster)

        1. @bascb It is true that having more races in total over the season (plus having sprint races) will significantly improve the finances of the sport(more revenue) , but do we really need to, even more, follow the pattern that NBA and other leagues follow? We have a record breaking amount of race planned for 2021, and the number isn’t getting lower..

          1. As the article about the “why” of this proposal by Dieter mentions, the reason is, off course, simply one of money @miltosgreekfan.

            Since it seems adding more race-weekends is not a good solution (they were pushing for that, even propping up the idea of the shortened weekends) F1 now brings up this option of having (some) weekends with MORE action on track.

            At least that makes sense for any fan looking at visiting a race, and for the promotors, since you get more value for your money that way instead of being cut to the minimum in the “shortening the race weekends might allow for more races” proposal they had before.

          2. @bascb @miltosgreekfan
            As I wrote in comment about the “why”, I think there is a risk to lose fans engagement by growing the calendar too much. It might look a bit better from a venue perspective but they could also conflict with each others if geographically close and/or be impacted by the same loss of engagement.

            There is a potential increase of revenues, but there will also be extra cost for teams.

            For once, I think F1 needs to drop the paywall somewhere to get new people through it and that might be an argument for sprint races or whatever special events they want to organize. Keep them shorts and dynamic, target proper race tracks to give the best chance and best experiences to the new comers, and provide something exciting for the fans (if it’s not relevant, better makes it entertaining).

  5. If they are pushing this idea through why not make it a non-championship race and sell tickets to those races for a cheaper price? (of course after you can have a more audience and if this idea will stick)

    That would allow those come to races who cannot afford to pay the whole price for the sunday race.

  6. Sounds like fun, qualifying still happens, why not, let’s try it.

  7. Do it as a non-championship event then.

  8. There are lots of different versions of ‘sprint races’ that could be used, and in my opinion, some are acceptable, and some are awful. There are two main things that I do not want to happen with these sprint races:
    1. Qualifying is removed. The current qualifying format is brilliant. Not only is it the only session where the drivers all drive flat out, the knockout system creates great excitement. They just can’t get rid of qualifying.
    2. Championship points are awarded. If championship points were awarded for the sprint race, it would become like a second Grand Prix, and we just can’t have two Grands Prix per weekend.

    So, what are the other options? One, that I have mentioned before, is that qualifying decides the grid for the sprint race, and the results of the sprint race decide the grid for the Grand Prix, and no points are awarded for the sprint race. But now the sprint race seems a bit pointless, and I would still prefer for the current format to be left alone.

    Here is another option that someone else has mentioned, but I have adapted. The sprint race is for junior drivers and reserve drivers, not for the main drivers, and it becomes like a different support series championship (potentially replacing Formula 2). Two cars for each team. However, the top six (or whatever the number would be) in the sprint race get to start the main race at the back of the grid, so there are 26 cars instead of 20. But obviously there is an obvious problem with this; each team would have to build four cars instead of two, and some would not think it was worth it seeing as they would never get an extra car on to the main grid anyway, although maybe if there was a lot of prize money for the sprint race championship (there would be points for this separate championship, as well as the prize of being on the main grid). It would also not be very environmentally friendly to have four cars per team instead of two.
    So I think that we should just leave the current format as it is. I think it’s fine as it is now, and hopefully the new rules in 2022 will make Formula 1 more entertaining (although I really enjoyed 2020), without having to resort to sprint races.

    1. Yes I think your second suggestion would drive up costs too much to be feasible @f1frog. As in the other article on this topic, one of the teams’ red lines will be that the new format doesn’t cause costs to increase.

      I know reverse grids are not popular, but one idea I have toyed with is that the Friday qualifying session sets the grid for both races, but for the Saturday sprint race the grid is reversed. A small number of points would then be available for the sprint race (maybe 9-6-4-3-2-1 for the top six like in the old days) with the majority of points scored in the Sunday GP race. The sprint race would not have “Grand Prix” billing so sprint race wins, podiums etc did not count towards the overall historical stats.

      1. @red-andy This is what I was about to reply to @f1frog and thankfully I refreshed the page so I saw your comment.

        This is what they should do. My idea is similar to yours: Friday’s qualifying session sets the grid for both races. Saturday’s sprint race starts with reverse grid, full points are rewarded but the winner DOESN’T get an official F1 win on his name. This applies also for the other 2 podium drivers of course. Historical stats must stay untouched.

        Eitherway, as it seems, a) This year, before the huge changes in 2022, these sprint races will be used as a test or evaluation, so they can try whatever idea comes on their mind and then judge for what is the best to keep, if so, b) they WILL eventually move qualifying session on Friday either sooner or later and most importantly c) Sprint races in F1 is a COMPLETE joke and whoever came up with this idea must retire as soon as possible. This alters and falsifies a history of 70 years. It’s no progress, it’s suicide.

        Regarding full points on sprint races, some years ago we had double points for the last 3 races, so I don’t see a reason for not rewarding full points on sprint races. So, with this kind of format, they can test what they want before making it official, and they DON’T alter the historical substance of F1.

      2. @red-andy This is what I was about to reply to @f1frog and thankfully I refreshed the page so I saw your comment.

        This is what they should do. My idea is similar to yours: Friday’s qualifying session sets the grid for both races. Saturday’s sprint race starts with reverse grid, full points are rewarded but the winner DOESN’T get an official F1 win on his name. This applies also for the other 2 podium drivers of course. Historical stats must stay untouched.

        Eitherway, as it seems, a) This year, before the huge changes in 2022, these sprint races will be used as a test or evaluation, so they can try whatever idea comes on their mind and then judge for what is the best to keep, if so, b) they WILL eventually move qualifying session on Friday either sooner or later and most importantly c) Sprint races in F1 is a COMPLETE joke and whoever came up with this idea must retire as soon as possible. This alters and falsifies a history of 70 years. It’s no progress, it’s su1cide.

        Regarding full points on sprint races, some years ago we had double points for the last 3 races, so I don’t see a reason for not rewarding full points on sprint races. So, with this kind of format, they can test what they want before making it official, and they DON’T alter the historical substance of F1.

  9. Stupid idea. What if someone has a ‘big one’ in the sprint race, where are the spares and time to fix going to come from.It means more cost for the teams with more chance of serious damage and the rquirement to carry loads of spares to fly away races.

  10. If the sprint race is intended to set the grid for the Sunday GP, then what you have is not two races but a single race run in two parts.

    Any benefit of a slightly mixed grid in qualifying will be removed as the cars shuffle into their ‘normal’ positions in the sprint race. Therefore the main races will be even less interesting than they currently are.

    1. Only if you assume this shuffling wouldn’t happen in the first third of the normal race as it does now. At least in a short race these out of place drivers have a better shot at finishing higher.

    2. Any benefit of a slightly mixed grid in qualifying will be removed as the cars shuffle into their ‘normal’ positions in the sprint race. Therefore the main races will be even less interesting than they currently are.

      That’s indeed a risk, @red-andy, but that why one should test it rather than only model it.
      It could also be that the (increased) mixed sprint grid and removing of tyre/fuel limits causes more drivers to go on full attack mode on Saturday rather than settle for a position and wait for the pit stop or a SC; a bit like after a late red flag stoppage (rated very highly on this site).
      I’d love to see that full on racing.

      1. @coldfly We have ample evidence from previous reforms designed to liven up proceedings that F1 teams will, given the opportunity, act conservatively. For example, the fast-degrading Pirelli tyres in the first part of the last decade usually saw drivers well within their limits, trying to eke out the tyres and avoid an extra pit stop. I doubt a sprint format would encourage teams to act more aggressively – in fact it would probably have the opposite effect.

        Also I don’t see why the sprint race grid would be any more mixed than grids are currently. The qualifying format is not changing and there is no incentive for teams to sandbag.

    3. Basically just a really long red flag period before the restart!

  11. Well, on the bright side, at least this will hopefully get rid of the stupid top 10 tyre rule…

    1. @minnis I wouldn’t count on it tbh. They could well just shift it to the sprint race and make them start on their Q2 tyres there.

  12. As I typically approach these initiatives with a ‘glass half full’ attitude, I don’t mind testing something like this.
    I think that FOM is trying a race format in which drivers can go full out in a normal race setting (rather than quali ‘time trial’). And based on all the negative comments about many races, it seems that most fans want more full on racing.
    A sprint race could give that to the fans, as long as it’s long enough to allow for a some good attacking, but short enough to stop tyre, PU, and fuel saving. I guess tyre saving could be limited by having a quarter distance sprint race with all cars starting on new medium tyres. Fuel saving might be limited by mandating around 40kg (35%) of starting fuel for all cars.

    Another interesting consequence might be that teams have to enter P2/quali with a lot less info, which could create some randomness but still based on the skill and performance of team and driver.

    I hope thought that for the statistics only 1 pole will be awarded (the one for the main race), and that no points will be awarded for the sprint race (they can sign the small tyre though).

    1. 100% agreed.

      Let’s not just base the decision on pure modelling. Something small can affect that a little more t. Let’s actually try it and see if it works. It’s not even outlandish as a proposal either. You can say sport dna bla bla but the reality is the formula IS the dna of the sport.

      1. *lot more

  13. Wait for the fine print.

  14. There’s a lot of seemingly conflicting priorities and goals here.
    Let’s start from the main objective: To draw higher fees from circuits by helping them charge more for a more attractive product.

    The product:
    * Sprint in lieu of quali. (Yes, Friday will have quali but it wouldn’t be all that consequential).
    * No (or very limited) points awarded. Hence doesn’t “count” in any sense other than grid position.
    * Duration way shorter than 1hr to avoid dilution with the race proper and keep things TV friendly.

    Then looking at the groups:
    * Circuits/Promoters: As far as top-end hospitality is concerned it is, typically, not very sensitive to format nuances. Big-buck execs on a junket, more often than not, are not afficionados and so the marketers that pay those packages won’t be swayed by format nuances. This is all about the hoi polloi.

    * Attendees: Would people pay a lot more for a sprint race on a Saturday in lieu of the usual quali? That’s debatable. But let’s assume, yes. That’s your Saturday worked out. Friday is still a runt, heavily discounted and popular with those that can reliably skip work to attend.

    * Race teams: This means more work, more risk, more costs and potentially more damage to the cars. Though certainly way cheaper than a full race weekend.

    * TV: Quali in its present form is TV gold. Entirely predictable duration, defined segments and adequate break lengths in between. It would be difficult to improve.

    * F1 Inc.: They may be able to squeeze more from circuits but will it be enough to offset a full race weekend?

    My view is this will be tried but is unlikely to take root for many reasons:
    * The extra fees won’t be sufficient to bring a reduction of race weekends. Without reducing races, there’s no incentive to adopt this.
    * Circuits can improve their value proposition even more without tweaking the format. Those of us that have attended race weekends know that seeing the cars on the track is only one of the parameters. Open scrutineering, track tours, other events can bring us fans closer to the action and raise a ticket’s value much more than tweaking the quali format.
    * F1 needs to be more creative and adventurous in coming up with ideas to make attending so much more/better than watching on TV. This used to be easy in the V8/V10 era on account of engine noise.

  15. My wife will divorce me if I watch F1 solidly for 3 consecutive days.

    Think of the children!

    1. You mean you haven’t got your children watching along with you @sonnycrockett?

      My four year old loves F1, possibly even more than I do at the moment (though he’s of course too young to remember when it was actually good). I think my wife quite enjoys the break.

      1. @red-andy

        I have two daughters and they have a passing interest in F1 but prefer what would traditionally be defined as female interests!

        We all went to Catalunya a few years ago and saw Max win his first race which they really enjoyed.

        I must admit that I enjoy the peace of watching motorsport alone!

    2. @sonnycrockett

      Exactly. I don’t have time or patience for another F1 session during the weekend.

  16. They should just have a rule where a team can’t have the same line up more than 2 years running, and a driver cannot stay with the same team for more than 3 years running. Enforce it.

    That would mix things up.

  17. I read this headline as ‘there would be three races on a Saturday’, I need a coffee.

  18. So how often will they continue to flip-flop between reverse grid and sprint races? How about just improving the race on Sunday? It used to be a sprint race, you (FIA) made it into an endurance race with all these regulations.

  19. I’m generally not against them experimenting with the format where it could provide benefits to certain races, but I’m not very excited about this proposal. It seems to me that the negatives will outweigh any positive effects of this, namely:

    1) Reducing the importance and jeopardy of qualifying, since any faster car which qualifies further back for whatever reason such as mistakes, misjudgement, traffic, yellow/red flags, changing weather conditions etc, would now have a sprint race to allow them to recover closer to where they belong. It also dilutes the drama of setting the grid by extending the hour long shoot-out qualifying session into two different sessions to achieve the same outcome.

    2) It could act as a ‘spoiler’ for the race, since we will see the pace of all the cars under race conditions, meaning we will have a pretty good idea of how their pace will compare for the Grand Prix race on Sunday. This will be a much more reliable and accurate representation than during free practice sessions where teams are often running different programmes; different engine modes, fuel levels, tyres, stint lengths at different times etc.

    So it could reduce the spectacle of the race in this way, or worse turn people off from even watching it if the sprint race happens to be a bore fest. Imagine if at the 70th anniversary race last year we already knew that Verstappen would have superior race pace/tyre life than the Mercedes before the race even started. I think that would have taken away the majority of the drama before the main race even began.

    There can be other drawbacks in terms of cost to the teams, but those were my main concerns at first glance from a sporting/entertainment perspective.

  20. I don’t mind trying two races, as long as there is no reverse grid involved.

    But qualifying on fridays means that I’m doomed to watch it in replay and live in submarine mode until I get back home to watch it without being spoiled. And that is utterly disappointing.

    That is careless for the superb precision exercise that qualifying is. A real shame.

  21. How convenient that the vote is on the same day is as the Twin 125s for the Daytona 500, the one major “race before the race”.

    But Daytona has consequences. It’s the most prestigious race in NASCAR with by far the biggest prize pool and 4 cars will not qualify because of the 125s. It can make or break a smaller team’s budget for the year.

    There’s no such stakes in Formula 1…everyone qualifies. It’s just volunteering teams to smash their cars up, and with all the talk in recent years of salary caps, teams on the brink, and “we’re almost out of spare parts”, I’m amazed F1 are pushing so hard for this.

  22. I don’t quite understand this. They’ll have qualifying to set the field for the sprint race, so the cars will be lined up fastest to slowest. Then they’ll have a short race in which there is no reason to expect the grid to be shuffled except for crashes and failures, so it’s most likely that the grid for the Sunday race will mirror the grid for the sprint race. So what’s really being achieved? And with the reliability rules, why would teams agree to put their limited number of parts through this extra stress? Clearly I’m missing something.

    1. @velocityboy They (F1) in a nutshell are posing the question ‘The current format for F1 race weekends works, but is there an even more exciting way we can do it?’

      The points you raise are valid, and I would assume there would be some allowance for things like reliability rules and numbers of parts etc.

      It’s simply that putting some form of quali session on Friday along with practice, makes that a more exciting day compared to when it is just practice. Friday practice doesn’t decide anything but with quali on that day it would be a more significant day. Saturday would then include a sprint race, which I would think many would find more exciting than the quali session that currently exists. Personally I only find the last few minutes of Q3 exciting…maybe the last few minutes of Q2 sometimes too. But a race? Action from start to finish.

      Then of course Sunday would be as it has always been.

      I think you are right to suggest little might change in terms of the slower cars at the back and faster cars at the front thing, and that translating from Friday quali, through the sprint race on Saturday, only to end up pretty much where they do as currently, for the start of Sunday races. But it is about how they get there, and Liberty wants that route to Sunday’s starting order to be more exciting, more of a draw for an audience, and resultantly more revenues if they can charge more for a better, more weighty weekend of action.

      As well, if you go by what Brawn has said of them not wanting to disrupt a Championship with this format change, not want to harm F1’s DNA and make it unrecognizable to the vast veteran audience, then I think they would be chuffed to hear you describe it as you have…the slower cars at the back, faster ones at the front thing…for they don’t want to change that reality too much (hence have dropped the possibility of reverse grids). We would still end up feeling like the fastest guy is on pole, the slowest one at the back “as it should be and always has been,” so DNA is preserved, but it’s been a more exciting weekend all the while.

  23. For once I want Ferrari to use their power of veto….

  24. I can’t see any incentive to race hard in the sprint race. Assuming quali gives us a normal grid for the sprint race then surely all the teams at the front are going to be quite conservative, hold position and settle for finishing somewhere in the top 6 rather than risk any crashes and jeopardising the real grand prix on Sunday. So we get two boring races instead of just one!

  25. Christopher Windle
    9th February 2021, 13:11

    I tend to be against this but I know F1 wants more viewers. Just a suggestion – Sat morning qualifying for the big race on Sunday and on 20 races in the year each of the 20 drivers has each spot 1- 20 so that their is a fair grid throughout the year. It is up to the teams to decide what tyre to use and I would suggest no more than half the Grand Prix length. Points to be decided upon but again no more than half the Grand Prix points. Maybe 12, 9, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

  26. Christopher Windle
    9th February 2021, 13:16

    Sorry, I should have said for the Sprint races having spaces 1-20 for each driver throughout the year. Eg, Hamilton Place 1 for Bahrain, 7 for Imola, 19 for Spain etc. Definitely not doing it for Monaco.

  27. Have the f1 drivers drive f2 cars.

  28. Am I the only one sitting here thinking “isnt F1 supposed to be a sprint race on Sunday?”

  29. This controversial idea can not fit into the regs that govern F1 already. With only three engines per season who then can afford to twist up the knobs a bit? For what reason? Risk the potential of a season of results for this type of carnival sideshow. It’ll end quickly when a single driver breaks or impacts his season long goals. Besides after the attention of the “first” side show sprint race is over. I think F1 will look at this experiment as exciting but may become season enders for just a gimmick. Isn’t Formula One already using too many of them??

  30. I don’t mind sprint races, I like the idea of reverse grid races, but there needs to be the F1 Championship and then the Sprint Championship or Sprint Series. Or pay the F2 teams to supply an extra two cars per team and we have them do a sprint race in F2 cars.

    There is not a damn thing wrong with the format of the sport. Practice, qualify Saturday, race Sunday.

    The problem is that there have only been two competitive seasons between teams since the beginning of the last decade.

    Bring Mercedes back to the field as they did when RBR won a couple championships in a row, when Ferrari won three in a row.

    Mercedes have been allowed to win 7 in a row with completely dominant cars (71 front row lockouts in the hybrid era Ferrari only had 15 when they won their championships).

  31. Id rather not have any sprint races and keep it like it is but id rather have this than reverse grid qualifying sprint races. At least I still get to see qualifying where the cars are as flat out as the rules allow and I suppose it does add another element to qualifying for the main race where we test overtaking ability as well as the ability to do the best lap over the 2 sessions.

    I would definitely watch it and it wouldn’t annoy me enough to cancel my Sky Sports subscription so it must be a fair compromise :-) It will be interesting to see how the teams vote thats for sure.

  32. Gavin Campbell
    9th February 2021, 16:51

    Why don’t they basically make every track stick to the Quali format when they joined the championship?

    Saudi can have a sprint quali, original era tracks (Silverstone/Monza) can have a Friday/Sat aggregate, Australia can have the standard hour quali and so on.

    Or have 5 different quali formats and draw lots at the start of the season:
    Q3/2/1 – Current Knockout System
    1 Lap Shootout
    1 Lap Q3/2/1 Knockout?
    2 Session Aggregate (2 day weekend?)
    Sprint Race

    Basically its the history of all the formats (plus said sprint – but its used in other FIA/Single seater formats) and just mix it up.

    Its about the only thing that everyone else has stolen from F1 – IndyCar, MotoGP, Formula E all have the group knockout qualifying. That generally suggests we currently have it pretty correct – although a few wildcards especially if we have to repeat venues wouldn’t go amiss!

    1. Or, they have all these options, as you say, and then on Friday morning the driver leading the championship draws one of these out of his helmet, live on TV and on every social media platform, and that decides the weekend’s quali format. I am joking, of course, but it would honestly add another layer of suspense to F1.

  33. When do they think people are going to find the time to watch all of this? Again when faced with too much content from one source I just completely lose interest. I’ve been a fan of F1 since the early 80’s, but this is just too much. Were going to be at nearly 50 races? I have barely the time to watch 20 and you think I’m going to watch 50? If I have to miss more than half the races I won’t bother with any. Not all of us are living in our parents basement or willing to ignore our jobs and families for this.

    1. @darryn Not sure why you would need much more time at all. If you already watch Friday practice then that would then include a one hour quali session too. They’ve already shortened the practice time duration on Friday’s. So I don’t see any addition to coverage Friday. Saturday would constitute a one hour qualifying race rather than a one hour solo time-trial type of event as we have become accustomed. No extra time there. Then the race would be the race on Sunday. So I don’t see it as ‘50’ races to watch, like it’s a burden or something, but rather the same number of race weekends that they’d normally have throughout a season, with a different method of qualifying, and a more action packed Friday. If you want to pare it down Friday can be skipped as it is practice and even though there would be an exciting quali session as well, that is only deciding the order for the Saturday qualifying race, so no real biggie to miss Friday if you must.

  34. I think at the end of this year FIA and Liberty will say how they still managed to put on at least 15-17-20 races, despite the pandemic still making it very difficult. But they probably will be adding these 3 sprint races as well when counting the total.

    Also, if it’s not a Grand Prix, will a sprint race be called a Petit Prix?

  35. So, 72 comments already, regarding something that…

    a) hasn’t been decided yet
    b) if decided, (‘RaceFans understands’ – can’t forget that, remember!) would only occur at 3 events
    c) 2 of those events are very unlikely to happen this year (Canada and Brazil/Sao Paulo/whatever)

    1. @Simon If Canada and Brazil were unable to happen, the latter would probably get replaced by either the US or Mexico or both since they’re evening races in Europe. Canada maybe by Azerbaijan or France because of their proximity in the schedule.

  36. 1. In terms of stats and year-to-ear comparison, what counts as qualifying? The normal fastest lap qualifying session or the sprint race (deciding the ‘actual race’ grid positions)?

    2. I think it sounds OK as an idea, there will be less caution and more racing to watch. I think an hour is too long, maybe 40 minutes? Less? Otherwise you’re going to have the dreaded tyre conservation creeping in. You want the cars flat out and drivers taking their chances as soon as they appear. The only thing is it’s kind of irritating for FIA to put a red line through a ton of stuff over ‘cost cutting’ and then insist on a new element which will inevitably raise costs, especially because of the likely damage teams will have to fix.

  37. I actually don’t mind this as long as they’re keeping qualifying on a Friday and not doing any crazy reverse grids.

    From their perspective they need to get more action out of the product. Quali currently might provide 2-5 minutes of decent highlights that suit the modern audiences that they’re going after. A 30-45 minute race should provide more than double that and it’s proper wheel to wheel action, shunts, dramatic overtakes rather than “vroom, he was 2 hundredths quicker”.

    We’ve seen in the past few years that the addition of more race starts has spiced up races. Here’s another race start, another opportunity for your hero to be a hero or get mugged off the line. I think if offered the guarantee of another 5-10 laps of close running per weekend we’d take it in a heartbeat. Alos, however the sprint race goes it will drive more storylines ahead of the race on Sunday which can only be a good thing for everyone involved.

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