Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Why Formula 1 won’t give up on its Saturday sprint race plan

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Formula 1 is a monster with a voracious appetite for cash, a situation compounded by its commercial rights being managed by a listed company, Liberty Media, which is required by shareholders to deliver ever-increasing returns on their investments. As with the sport itself, simply standing still equates to going backwards at an alarming rate.

Over the years a number of revenue-boosting elements have been introduced: calendar expansion to 23 races from the 16 or so 15 years ago; ‘propaganda races’ in controversial territories prepared to pay over the odds to host F1; moves to subscription TV broadcasters and live streams on ‘over-the-top’ platforms. Turnover effectively doubled in two decades, yet F1 remains insatiable – all the more so after Covid decimated revenues.

The quickest way to boost revenues is to expand calendars: more races means increased hosting fees over a season, greater opportunities for high-end hospitality and ‘bridge-and-board’ advertising, and easier pitches to TV broadcasters for higher fees. The flipside is that teams’ costs increase enormously – particularly if races are outside Europe – while the human cost in terms of fatigue and personnel rotation are massive.

Equally, many fans do not have 30 or so weekends available per year, and are pushing back against more than 20 weekends. Plus, sponsors generally pay per season, not per race, and thus teams do not earn incremental income.

Canada could hold F1’s first sprint race
But F1 believes there is a solution: Sprint races on Saturday at selected events, with qualifying held on Friday (after practice) to determine the sprint race grid. The result of that race then determines the start order for the grand prix proper.

F1 could host 20 events, a number of which would feature sprint races, without all the travel and personnel costs associated with additional events. If half of the rounds have these sprint events, suddenly F1 has 30 races for the cost of 20.

Thus, F1 would offer promoters three ‘premium’ sessions per weekend (qualifying plus two races), enabling them to offer three distinctly different day packages, with Fridays traditionally being heavily discounted. Broadcasters, too, would have improved packages to offer viewers, while sponsors would have three high-value days for activation purposes rather than writing off lame duck Fridays.

RaceFans understands that the concept will be presented during Thursday’s F1 Commission meeting – the first chaired by F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali since he assumed the role in January and the first convened under the incoming 2021-25 Concorde Agreement – followed by a vote on a trial run of three sprint races this year. According to sources, Montreal, Monza and Interlagos are potential targets.

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Should the concept be approved future sporting, technical and financial regulations will be adapted together with the teams, with the main criteria being that the shorter races differ considerably from main grands prix and are delivered without materially adding costs. Other factors under review include the cadence of sprint races over a season, time zones – to ensure ‘fan friendly’ sprint races – and impact on championships.

Domenicali indicated F1 calendars could shorten in future
According to a source no new events, championship openers or finales will feature sprint programmes. The question of whether championship points will be awarded for sprint races as in F2 – and, if so, at what levels – will be discussed once the primary decision has fallen. F1 chiefs are, though, adamant that reverse grids – whether for sprints or main races – are off the agenda, thereby removing allegations of ‘gimmicks’.

The potential for points scoring would arguably encourage drivers to ‘go for it’ rather than simply defend the positions they earned on Friday, although awarding points on a Sunday scale would obviously devalue a grand prix victory. The expectation is that half points could be paid, possibly down to fifth or sixth place. Team bosses fear additional costs – particularly of damage – and this point, too, will be tabled.

The commercial rationale is that the overall number of events per year will reduce, placing a premium on calendar slots and boosting fees, justified by increased weekend programme offerings. Six promoter contracts are believed to expire at the end of 2021 – which could kick-start the culling process – although promoters with longer-term contracts may wish to avail themselves of the enhanced package. At a cost, of course.

“I would say that this equation will solve itself by the fact that if we’re able to deliver an incredible product, we may go to a situation where maybe we can go back to a fewer number of races,” Domenicali told Sky last month.

“Then maybe the chance of a rotation is possible for certain grands prix, keeping a focus on different areas. This is something that is in our plan to think about carefully this year, getting ready for when the world is normal again.”

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With the number of venues set to potentially decrease, rotating races would maintain (or increase) F1’s geographic spread. While a number of promoters welcome rotation – Hockenheim and Nürburgring alternated the right to stage Germany’s grand prix between 2007 and 2014, with the former hosting ‘even’ years – others point to disrupted programmes and uncertain financing of upgrades.

Start, Hockenheimring, 2019
Hockenheim’s race previously rotated with the Nurburgring
Promoters traditionally commence marketing of the next event immediately after their latest grand prix while excitement is fresh and fans are eager to ‘bag’ the same (or better) seats. “Rotation means lost marketing momentum,” a race promoter told me when I broached the subject during the ‘German phase’.

“For major circuit upgrades we need multiple seasons to defray the costs, and rotation doubles that timeframe, so no, rotation would not work for us.”

That said, loss-making circuits may view rotation as a blessing by reducing their overall losses by 50% while still being able to brag about hosting a grand prix.

Whether sprint races are included in the 2022 calendar will depend on the success of any pilot events staged this year. That in turn rests upon Thursday’s vote.

The format ticks a number of sporting and commercial boxes without, crucially, incorporating the reverse grids that tarnish the essence of F1 in the eyes of the majority of fans. It’s now up to the F1 Commission to decide whether the long-debated sprint race concept deserves to finally make the leap from theory to practice.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 59 comments on “Why Formula 1 won’t give up on its Saturday sprint race plan”

    1. So the FIA is going to say “so many weekends you need to employ double the race team on a reducing budget, or fewer weekends with more running costs for the hardware”.

      Difficult choice…

      1. Not when you realise that material costs are vast amounts lower than an entire race weekend would cost. There are not the same thing.

      2. Compared to all cost involved, I suspect that damaged parts will be one of the smaller cost factors in the equasion though @falken, as @aiii mentions the whole staging of a race, travelling, cost of the personell etc. are far bigger factors, I would expect

    2. Hm, I actually like the thinking behind this, although I remain sceptical of whether these sprint races are a good idea.

      I would hope though, that these events do not end up being ran at the likes of Sochi – Abu Dhabi probably wouldn’t since it is already paying extra to be the final event which should not have this.

      This does show that they really do listen to teams, fans and promotors and broadcasters. The “shorter but more weekends” idea clearly did not get a overwhelmingly positive from everyone (probably race visiting fans, fans with other activities and clearly from promotors, and teams). That is defenitely a good progression of their approach.

      I guess I am going to have to wait and see. If it does help adding “value” to the longer weekend.

    3. So, if something interesting happens during qualifying putting people out of place, the sprint race will just normalize its so that the race is a bore fest. Thank you so much!

      1. Good point there James

      2. Actually, it would give these out of place drivers a much greater shot at ending in a good position, since there is much less time for faster teams to restore the order.

        1. @aiii Yet plenty enough to do so, as the midfielders are likely to be even more aware of the costs of trying to delay the inevitable in a sprint race than the main race.

      3. Do you really think that there is less chance for “interesting” changes in a sprint race than in qualifying? I’m not sure that I’m really for sprint races, but I’m pretty sure that a sprint race will make the main race positions more random, not less.

        1. I’m pretty sure that a sprint race will make the main race positions more random, not less.

          And there is only one way to find that out.

          1. @coldfly This could be pretty easily estimated by statistical analysis of existing qualifying and race results and comparing against a measure of the cars’ overall performance. It won’t be identical since a sprint race (potentially offering only a grid slot and no points) is different from a normal championship race, but it would give you a pretty good idea of whether it would be ‘more’ or ‘less’ random than the traditional qualifying format.

        2. I see your point, but I’m pretty sure drivers won’t take this sprint race as a full on, max-speed race to the front: they won’t touch anyone and avoid absolutely any risk because the price will be payed in the feature race, which is what matters. It will be a bore fest.

    4. “reverse grids that tarnish the essence of F1 in the eyes of the majority of fans” You think sprint races don’t?

      1. My thoughts exactly.

    5. I can see 3 main issues with this plan:

      1 – qualifying viewing will decrease hugely. Friday isn’t just not watched because it’s practice but also because people are in work. Also if you’re now asking people to watch a sporting event across 3 days it’s considerably more of a commitment.

      2 – A concern of mine is that this will amount to better testing for the race than a practice session would. As we’ve all found out in recent seasons the more testing they have the more predictable the race. So imagine a race where Mercedes are terrible on their tyres for some reason. Previously this would have been a big surprise on race day and would have added drama. Now it will become obvious on Saturday, Mercedes will alter strategy according to it and all the drama for Sunday’s race will be gone.

      3 – if they only give points for top 6 what is the point of the sprint races for teams like Williams, Haas, Alfa Romeo? They pick up top 6 results so rarely that it’s not going to be worth it to them to really go for the sprint races and risk damage. If we go back to 2019 and the previous years the top 6 was basically Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull and would only change due to odd circumstances. Whilst in a proper race a racing point of mclaren might go for a daring move into T1 to get ahead are they really going to risk p7 on the grid of the proper race for a potential at a couple of points in the sprint race?

      I think the sprint races have the potential for most teams to sit cruising for the race holding position creating a dull sprint race and the extra data gained by the teams cause the main race on Sunday to be more predictable. All while ruining the spectacle of qualifying as lots of people won’t bother watching it on Friday – especially since it’s effect is going to be less important. But it’ll make them more money so it’ll happen. :/

      1. I think the sprint races have the potential for most teams to sit cruising for the race holding position creating a dull sprint race and the extra data gained by the teams cause the main race on Sunday to be more predictable.

        That’s exactly the reason you should test this rather than just introduce it (as they did in the past), @shadow13.

        Also:
        1) broadcasters will probably repeat quali just before the sprint race (and only the over 60’s still watch linear TV).
        2) a sprint race is 1 set-up/tyre, whereas a practice session is mostly short stints with different set-ups/tyres.
        3) maybe give all cars 1 point just for showing up (plus a commemorative t-shirt).

        1. I wish I shared your optimism, but I find it misplaced. I struggle to think of a change made to F1 in the last ten years that has “improved the show” significantly. Slicks and the “new” quali format from the 00’s were the last good ones, but:

          1) I’m going to ignore your ageist comment, but I still endeavor to watch quali live and most F1 fans I know are the same. It loses something if it’s not live, even if you don’t know the results.
          2) Precisely what makes practice interesting
          3) If you give one point to everyone, you may as well give none, what’s the difference?

        2. I’m under 50 (just) and I still watch linear tv for the Grand Prix :-). On the occasions I don’t, I have to switch off the internet on my phone otherwise I get random notifications of the result that I’m trying to avoid. Can’t turn off internet on Fridays as I expect work would get a little annoyed ;-)

          1. I mostly watch it live as well, but still via OTT or other streaming options, @paulcook. It’s just too hard to ignore notifications, news bulletins, or sometimes friends excitedly sharing race updates prematurely.
            And if I cannot watch it live then I’ll do it immediately after returning home.

            But I’m sure that less fanatic fans will be offered options to watch a Friday quali session later on. This is ideal for broadcasters to offer an extra meaningful session and put some advertising around it.

            @hollidog, maybe I should have added :/ after my points-for-all comment (or as part of my user name).
            As stated earlier, I don’t advocate awarding points for a second race session. IMO there should only be one way session in which points are awarded, which is the main race.

        3. @coldfly Most broadcasters will not repeat qualifying just before the sprint race, instead just doing the 90-second highlights reel that they currently show just before the race.

          Linear TV is where most of the money currently is for F1 – the internet is largely used for “sizzle reels” and supplementary income at this point. That may change over the next decade or so as the average person becomes old enough to be a regular user of internet-based sports TV and contracts change to reflect this.

          @hollidog The point of giving a point for turning up is to penalise teams that elect not to turn up (something very likely to happen if nothing is done, since the fastest 6 cars usually make it to the front even if starting at the back, and a midfielder hitting P7 is largely just running the risk of being taken out in the main race).

          1. Linear TV is where most of the money currently is for F1 – the internet is largely used for “sizzle reels” and supplementary income at this point. That may change over the next decade or so as the average person becomes old enough to be a regular user of internet-based sports TV and contracts change to reflect this.

            @alianora-la-canta Looking around me I think we are already a lot further. Even many regular TV connections come nowadays with the option for playback via the internet, and most TV’s are ‘smart’ ones with Apps.
            The various options I have are all played via my main TV with a single remote. The only one that requires me to open my computer/phone/tablet is F1 TV, but then still I cast it to my TV as soon as the session starts.

        4. I think the main issue will be engagement of the fans. I noticed when the calendar was growing that first, I was doing everything possible to keep watching as many races as I could live, and replays for the others (few) while taking all possible measures to avoid spoiling. Then when it reached 20 races per year, number of conflicts grow, can’t always avoid spoiling and I started to miss some races. When the trend started, it continued and I gave up on the effort, focusing instead on watching the races I could, leading to watching less races than before, less quali sessions and being less engaged.

          I think we all have a drop point and a limit on the effort we are ready to put in order to watch and enjoy F1. By adding more, you could actually get less viewers per races as viewership will be diluted over more races.

          One eventual benefit of the sprint races would be to use them as marketing product. 3 races per year, special quali format, single lap per driver like old times, both quali and races broadcast free for all. Nice way to hook new fans enjoying raw speed, getting to appreciate each fast lap, and having a shorter race to get into the sport.
          The incentive for team to push is still undefined, and might require more tweaking or thinking to have a relevant race for them.

          1. One eventual benefit of the sprint races would be to use them as marketing product. 3 races per year, special quali format, single lap per driver like old times, both quali and races broadcast free for all.

            Interesting suggestion, @jeanrien.
            I’d buy into testing it like that.

    6. We already have a sprint race. The main event on sunday.
      That the FIA allowed the sprint race to turn into a mini endurance race where tyre and fuel management are more important than flat out racing is endemic of all the reliability, tire and fuel rules.
      On top of that the cars are too wide, too long, too heavy and they don’t make enoug noise.

      MotoGP proves every single race and every single season that F1s problem isn’t the racing format or the build up of the weekend.

      The problem is letting the technical regs get out of control and allowing a car on track that you can only drive fast but not race.

      1. You don’t know what you are talking about, a GRAND PRIX was never considered a sprint race until the v10s used so much fuel that refueling was allowed in 1994. If the v10s had to carry their full race fuel then they definitely would not have had sprint races. In the 60s some of the grand prix were twice the distance they are now. Learn F1 history.

    7. ”30 races for the cost of 20.”
      – At least some upsides would or might come with this alternative weekend format, although I, like most, am still generally against it.

      1. @jerejj Except it won’t be for the cost of 20. More damage to cars means that the running cost of a non-gamed sprint race set would be (assuming all races had one, which they won’t) 50% more than having 20 races. The non-running expenditure stays the same, but it is still going to require a budget increase for the teams.

    8. Knowing that qualifying is staying, the most important thing to me is that championship points are not awarded, because, as the article says, that would devalue the actual Grand Prix.

      1. @f1frog I agree. I don’t have a huge problem with condensing the weekend, or adding new elements. My concern is fiddling with things that alter the historic relevance of achievements. It’s enough of a mess already with the changing of the points system every decade (or less).

    9. “We already have a sprint race. The main event on sunday.”

      @SadF1fan Nailed it there.

      If there’s a problem with the races not delivering enough competition, then work needs to be done to develop regs to ensure teams can compete more fairly in terms of budget and in terms of actually being able to follow a car. This is already happening with the delayed 2022 regulations and the budget cap.

      It always seems that F1 has kneejerk reactions to the current state-of-play.

      Let the budget cap and the new technical regulations have a chance before more artificial constructs are thrown into the mix. F1 isn’t Mario Kart. Yes – it is entertainment, but it’s also a sport and if you compromise that then the competition aspect suffers.

      F1 is about racing. you have to accept that a team or a driver may dominate, but that’s just like in any sport.

      1. @geekzilla9000 I don’t think anything is being compromised here. The fact is they have addressed the issue of too clean air dependent cars and we will see that come to fruition starting next year. This is not about races delivering enough competition, this is about perhaps a more exciting way to qualify that adds to the excitement of the weekend, and none of what they are talking about here affects Sunday races. It is the wholly new technical regs along with the bigger teams being curtailed financially and the lesser teams being bolstered, that will make a huge difference in the competition in the races.

        Your last line starts with “F1 is about racing.” Ok so what is wrong with them racing to determine pole? Whether or not a team is dominant has nothing to do with what Liberty are trying to explore here, which is an even more exciting way than currently exists, to set the grid order for Sunday.

        1. The problem I have with this is that it changes the core structure of F1 event. For me it will only harm F1, because it’s a change not driven by fans, by the teams or by the audience , it’s done by the commercial rights holder just to increase revenues. No wonder why this was always rejected by the teams, they don’t want it either. From my perspective, this move will just push old time fans like myself away in the long term. It has gimmick scent all over it. Don’t change the Grand Prix structure please.

          1. @mmertens Personally I don’t agree that it changes the core structure to any detriment. I think their main motivation is to make F1 more exciting and try to grow it, and yes make more money as every business entity in the world tries to do at all times. I don’t know why this would push out old time fans like yourself and myself when they will still qualify, and nothing changes for Sunday. All they’re trying to do is make qualifying more exciting and make the three day race weekend more action packed by putting a ‘normal’ quali on Friday, making that a better day and that determines the running order for the main qualifying on Saturday which will now be an exciting sprint race rather than solo time trials. Sunday remains exactly the same, with the pole sitter having been determined in a straight forward but more exciting manner than we currently have.

            1. Fair points Robbie. I agree with you that there might produce some more action on a weekend, but for me it looks like another event to try to follow, when we already having 23 rounds or so. The “weight” every gp has is already devalued compared to 15 years ago, and I believe that if we increase this qty with yet another event we might starting to make to difficult for fans to follow ( a bit of NASCAR territory, when they started increase race qty). If it’s already hard for us avid fans to follow the increased qty of races, I imagine these will only increase the risk of alienate more casual fans or make it more confusing and thus less appealing for newcomers to follow F1. I wouldn’t mind if they let all test drivers have a Sprint race on Fridays and do some sort of parallel rookie championship, this would give them more visibility and track time and also entertain the public on track, but I would not touch on the proven current format for a gp of qualifying + race.

    10. Ah I remember when the 2016 elimination qualifying proposal seemed ok on paper… I understand the rationale but disagree with the proposed solution. I honestly don’t see a problem with the current race weekend format. I think if F1 wants more exposure, surely focus needs to be online to pick up people who aren’t looking for it. Those who care enough to pay probably already are. The appeal of F1 surely is that it is fast and furious already. The idea of a sprint race would be akin to T20 cricket being reduced to 6 overs per side. I don’t really see the point.

      1. Ah I remember when the 2016 elimination qualifying proposal seemed ok on paper

        Nope, I remember it looking awful on paper.

    11. Biggest thing for me from a history perspective is how will driver records show poles and wins?

      Is pole allocated to the fastest driver in qualifying or is pole logged in the record books for the driver who won the sprint race?

      Same for wins? Will a driver now be awarded double wins on a weekend if the same driver wins both sprint and main race or will these be split off going forward?

      This is my biggest issue with this proposal. I already hate that the fastest driver in qualifying loses a pole if he has a mechanical failure penalty (like with Raikkonen in Monza 2005)…so would not be a fan if this is how poles and wins get logged going forward.

      1. @shumi Since they have spoken about not wanting to disrupt the DNA of F1 I would speculate that Friday’s qualifying would merely set the running order for the Saturday sprint race, for after all something has to decide in what order they would start on Saturday. I don’t envision anything other than a mention in the record books as to what running order was determined on Friday. Sure there is inevitably going to be a ‘pole sitter’ determined on Friday for the Saturday sprint, but that will not be something put into the records books as a ‘historical stat’ shall we say. At least, as I see it. For the time being I’m thinking of Friday as “pre-qualifying,” with this proposal of theirs.

        So then to wins…if I’m right and all they will have done on Friday is determine a running order for Saturday, nothing that is of note as a stat for the actual record books, then they just go ahead and do their sprint race on Saturday, which is the qualifying session, and simply the winner of the Saturday sprint race is the winner of qualifying and is the pole sitter as normal. The winner of the sprint race would not be the winner of “race 1” of the weekend…he’d just be the pole sitter and that, along with the running order of the rest of the grid, determined by the finishing order of the sprint race, would be the qualifying order that would be noted for the formal records, as always. Sunday is just plain old Sunday, lol.

        So to me what this format would do is… a) make Friday a more significant day with both practice and then a qualifying session akin to what we are used to on Saturdays (I’ll call it pre-qualifying) b) make actual qualifying more exciting because it will be a sprint race rather than the format they now use, with a pole sitter and a grid set in the annals of history as usual, and c) a Sunday race no different than we have been having for decades. Sure there might be a little confusion getting used to the idea that the winner of the sprint race didn’t actually win a race but moreso won pole, but I don’t think that is too hard a concept to wrap one’s head around. Of course he undeniably won a race, but his reward is pole, not a race win for the record books. The win would be recorded as pole sitter for Sunday’s race. Perhaps if it were termed a qualifying race as opposed to a sprint race people would grasp better that LH or Max, having won pole and the race didn’t win ‘both races’ but rather they won pole and the race, just as they can do now.

    12. I am aware that the plural of “personal anecdote” is not “data”, but, for what it is worth, for me this could be yet another step towards too much of a good thing.

      When F1 moved beyond 15-16 race seasons, I started skipping some races – there is a limit to how many afternoons I will spend in front of the TV. Once I started skipping races, my interest in the next races started to decline as well. The number of races that I watch has dropped below that original baseline number.

      Psychologically, it stopped being a continuing flowing “story” over the season.

      If the number of actual races to watch, to keep up with the story, again increases to two races per weekend (plus qualifying), I think, for me, I will miss more chapters of the “story”, the flow will be even more broken up, and less compelling to follow.

      But, I am aware that F1 does not exist to target me specifically, so if that is what Liberty wants to do, they are of course welcome to it.

    13. All of the above comments and points are valid and interesting. However, they all relate to the merits or otherwise, of implementing these changes and the impact on the sport. Sport is the key word here.

      However, the ONLY driving force behind these proposed changes is, MONEY (or investor return). Not the teams, not the FIA. It is Liberty Media trying to effect changes to a sporting event, for the sole purpose of monetary gain on their part.

      I accept that it may generate slightly more cash flow for teams, but at what cost to them? And at what expense for the ‘sport’.

    14. So, 50% extra running costs, no point in anyone below the top 3 teams putting in effort (and remember, for most of the last 7 years, 3 teams have been clear of all others) and the likelihood of the most damage being to those with no incentive to attempt the race? (Assuming the mooted “points to 6th” scheme runs).

      This is another recipe for gaming the system. In this case, because most teams have no incentive to run the sprint race, except possibly compulsion.

      1. For those saying it’s all about money… …there’s little money to be earned from a regulation quirk that results in mass gaming of the system, because the audience and paymasters all see through the trick and complain, thereby reducing the series value.

    15. Let them shoot themselves if that’s what they seem intent on. A lot of posters on here seem like they want to see it happen and that’s cool but sprint races over time will greatly water this sport down and ignore you don’t believe me ask NASCAR. They had one of the most popular most in person sporting events in the world and we’re talking 36 times a year but they wanted to try new things….getting away from what made them successful and moving away from tradition. What I’m talking about is the Chase and it sounded good at the time but it eventually drove fans from the stands plus they keep on digging a deeper hole with WWF fixes like “stage racing”. I guess in short what I’m saying is keep Saturday as qualifying and Sunday the big race day. Sunday’s won’t feel the same if we have races on Saturday too and eventually if sprint races become a thing along with 23 GP weekends, 46 races will water down F1 racing and you’ll wish things had remained the same. 2020 will become the good old days.

      1. @canadianjosh I couldn’t agree more with you.

      2. I completely agree with you. I got the feeling F1 forgets what a powerful format they have with that all important Sunday afternoon (sometimes evening) race. Everything that happens in the weekend leads up to that Grand Prix. A sprint race on Saturday will greatly dilute the significance of that race. I cannot imagine this will not affect the number of viewers on Sunday.

        1. @canadianjosh @jerejj Ronald I disagree. Saturday is still qualifying. It is still a race for pole, but just in a literal race format as opposed to what they do now. If one would only think of the Saturday event as a qualifying race as opposed to a “race” or a “sprint race” then one does not have to think of this as diluting anything. They’re still determining the running order for Sunday as always. All they’re doing is racing for it together at once rather than individually in a solo time-trial format as we have now. So I don’t at all see this, if it were to become THE new format, as 46 races that will water down F1. It will still be 23 races and 23 qualifying sessions, the winners of which were pole winners, not race winners. The race winners are determined on Sundays as always. The Friday pre-quaili session and the following Saturday qualifying race would not affect the usual order of things in that there is no artificial means of messing with the usual order of things such as a gimmick like reverse grids would do. All that they are proposing is a more exciting way to qualify, end of. Saturday’s qualifying race determines a pole sitter or pole winner, not a race winner, even though of course the bloke technically won a “race.” Just don’t think of it as anything other than a qualifying race, or even a qualifying session, and there should be no confusion.

    16. In 2003 pre-qualifying to determine the qualifying order was introduced. In 2005 it was replaced by the two-lap aggregate qualifying. Then there was the 2016 sudden-death qualifying in 2016. Neither system lasted too long, unlike the current system that is proven successful. But F1 is not giving this new idea up, so it is inevitable to happen…let’s see how it goes. But having points for qualifying race and none for regular pole position definitely seems wrong.

    17. The headline should be: Why Formula 1 won’t give up on its Saturday sprint race plan? Money.

    18. There are lots of potential problems in this proposal but the idea that it will make it possible for venues to raise ticket prices seems the most dubious. In some venues, like the Gulf, it is immaterial but in Europe and the Americas the ticket prices are extrembly high and, like all prices, there will be a point of diminishing returns. After the economic effects of Covid I think we may have reached it. And without more revenue why would venues want the extra costs and complications?

    19. I’m looking forward to when Friday is rained off, so we have ZERO practice, straight into rearranged Qualifying Sat morning before the Saturday Sprint.

      Or better when Saturday is rained off, so we have Friday practice and qualifying, then double race Sunday… because if they’ve allocated points to the sprint race, it must happen for championship integrity!

    20. 1) I don’t have time for more F1.
      2) Qualifying is often better than the race
      3) My understanding is Liberty consumes nearly half of revenue, partially because they paid too much for F1, partially because that is how economies work right now. Goofing around with the weekend format is like bailing a sinking ship with a thimble.

    21. Instead of moving qualification to Fridays (thus many fans would not see those, and that would be quite bad, and would discount the qualification’s value) :

      – Let’s have the quali at Saturday afternoon as usual (or at it’s usual time).
      – As they like to have nigth or dawn races, let’s have the sprint race at dawn or night at Saturday’s. Therefore these would be held at TV prime times, which means more income from adverts.
      – And then they can have the main race at Sunday as usual.

      Imo if the sprint race not includes a mandatory pit stop for tryres, then most likely it would converge the result of the quali towards the usual power rankings (before the start of the race). The less pit stops, the less surprising strategies there are, the less of them are working out. But DRS will be there to help the stronger entrants to hunt down some weaker ones who eventually qualified better. Imo DRS took away from me the opportunity to see a lot of good defensive drives, since it’s in existence. Like it too away from me to see Schumacher at least holding off some opponents in his Mercedes years. But at least when coaching is not allowed and the driver should drive the car alone, I regularly hear about how close the opponent is to the DRS window. That is the real management of the gap, that is the real stationary warfare. Or they coached Giovinazzi before his Spa shunt, that he want push more here and there. Want more randomness, less stationary warfare, and more rewarding of driver skills like spatial awareness, managing resources and so? Then leave such things to their perception.

    22. … that he can push more here and there ….
      (remarkable moments and laps, it’s before Kimi’s “he is off moment” as I remember)

    23. Maybe it’s just me, but if these sprint races aren’t going to be reverse grid, then what’s the point? I’m not really interested in tuning into a vanilla race merely split across two parts — a short segment on Saturday for a smattering of points and the rest of it on Sunday — which is what the proposed sprint race format seems like.

      If the idea is to get in more races like doubleheaders in IndyCar or Supercars, then we might as well make them proper doubleheaders, with full (or mostly full) distances and two separate grids for each race. You could set them off the results of a single qualifying session — for instance, with the current format but using the fastest laps by each car for race 1 and their second fastest lap for race 2 (thereby making every run in a session count for something), or with single-car qualifying and two lap runs.

      There are lots of other ways you can spice up two races — use slightly different track layouts (or even different track limits strictness), slightly different race distances or tyre compounds for different strategies, etc. that would make both races intriguing. The proposed sprint race format sounds like a Nascar stage race, except even less interesting, because at least in Nascar, the opportunity to pit between stages or stay out for track position at least creates strategic variety. Honestly, if they go this route, I wouldn’t mind if they pulled a page from Nascar and consider forcing all cars to start Sunday on the same tyres that they finished on Saturday, or fit new tyres and drop to the back of the Sunday grid.

      1. @markzastrow As I have responded to you elsewhere I don’t believe this is about having a race split across two parts, nor will there be a smattering of points on Saturday. Saturday’s winner wins pole, not a race win, not points. Pole. As I mention to you elsewhere I think you are mistakenly assuming that the quali session that would be moved to Friday is a session that sets the order for Sunday’s race, and it does not. Friday’s quali sets the order for Saturday’s qualifying race. I think of it like this…Friday is practice followed by ‘pre-quail’ in order to set the order in which they start Saturday’s qualifying race. The order in which they finish the Saturday qualifier is the order in which they start on Sunday as usual. All Saturday’s qualifier is is a more exciting way to determine the grid order for Sunday’s race.

    24. If it’s Monza Canada and Brazil fair enough. Three great venues. But I half expect well end up with the desert crown Prince ones being made the special events instead because $$$ as usual.

    25. Lets spice things up instead, get creative. The saturday race can be carried out in “cheap” identical F3 cars, so the grid will be set on a fair basis and dont risk the expensive cars :) Or maybe some other fun cars? I mean when its time to fudge the race format, at least make it more fun :)

      1. A field of 20 identical Renault Alpines would be awesome. There would be too much resulting body work to use Aston Martins or Ferraris and who wants to see a bunch of Mercedes 450s hissing around the track.
        One question that hasn’t been aired, when will the cars be in Parc Ferme conditions.?
        Recent rules would indicate prior to Friday Qualifying, the cars being effectively locked up at that time. No adjustments / changes apart from repairs following the sprint race. Not the best if what is wanted is excitment.
        While I don’t like the idea, it will be interesting to see the cars running fresh rubber on low fuel loads with only something on the order of 20 to 25 laps for a 30 minute event. It might actually make the main Sunday race look pedantic.

        1. One more totally modern idea. A Sim Race.
          No CO2 emissions, effectively carbon neutral, no damage or wear on the real cars, cheap to host and manage, easy to broadcast world wide live distribution. Teams could make changes to the virtual cars and Pirelli could introduce random or pre-planned (secret) tire mishaps to spice things up even more.
          Yeah … that’s the ticket.

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