‘Sprint Qualifying’ name and further details of F1’s new sprint races revealed

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1’s new sprint races are expected to be referred to as ‘Sprint Qualifying’ sessions when they are introduced this year.

Teams are nearing agreement on the proposal, which RaceFans has learned they will discuss in a meeting this evening. A vote is expected on the plan within the coming days.

Formula 1 intends to introduce Sprint Qualifying sessions at three rounds this year. They will take place on Saturdays to set the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

The Sprint Qualifying name is favoured partly to differentiate between the extra races and the grands prix. It will also simplify the necessary changes to F1’s regulations, which already contain hundreds of references to the ‘race’, meaning the grand prix.

The Saturday races will award points to the top finishers as an incentive for drivers to fight for position. They are likely to be awarded to the top three only, with three points for the winner, two for second place and one for third.

Other aspects of the regulations remain under debate. These include tyre regulations and how parc ferme restrictions will be enforced between qualifying on Friday and the Saturday Sprint Qualifying session, as second practice will take place between the two.

Changes to the DRS regulations for Sprint Qualifying are also being considered to encourage more passing. Drivers may be able to use the overtaking aid within two seconds of a rival, instead of the current one second.

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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...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 59 comments on “‘Sprint Qualifying’ name and further details of F1’s new sprint races revealed”

    1. The three-two-one points system isn’t too bad, although I would prefer no points at all.
      The two second DRS rule is a bad one. It would just increase the chance of the driver ahead also having DRS to reduce the chance of an overtake by the car behind, and from 1.9 seconds back there is no chance of an overtake.
      The Q2 tyre rule will hopefully be scrapped; it’s a gimmick.

      But overall, while I still think F1 is fine as it is and change is not needed, particularly with the 2022 rules to come, this doesn’t look as bad as I first feared. It is clearly an extension of qualifying, not an extra race, and it doesn’t look like it will devalue the Grand Prix at all (although it will devalue qualifying).

      However, I would still prefer to not have sprint races at all, and for that reason I am hoping that the three weekends with sprint races are some of the most boring in F1 history, forcing the bosses to get rid of them ;)

      1. Agree with all of the above. Hopefully the idea falls flat and is consigned to the bin like double points, aggregate qualifying, dropped points systems and the aborted knockout qualy system. Putting aside potential benefits of more people tuning in to watch (although the novelty may soon wear off and devalue Sunday to a degree), the only ray of light for me is that it means each day of a GP weekend will now have a competitive element.

      2. @f1frog You make a good point about the odds of the car in front having a greater chance of also using DRS, but that doesn’t account for the top three as much in that certainly the one leading, let’s say particularly off the start of the sprint qualifier, having gotten pole for that session on Friday, would not have DRS available. So in such a short race, this would give the second and third place cars at least a better chance, that is, while we have to suffer cars so badly affected in dirty air, ‘needing’ DRS in order to not make for a pure procession, and an unexciting session.

        Oh of course I am the first one to consider that DRS passes are meaningless and forgettable the minute they happen, and I only garner a minute bit of excitement from these passes, but I can see for this season, why this is their approach. Not perfect by any stretch, but then the real culprit is F1’s addiction to aero dependence, and that they will be shedding starting with the new cars. What would also not be perfect is a pure procession of these cars constantly stuck handcuffed in dirty air unable to make passes at all.

    2. It’s Liberty at work with the US approach to sports.

      You only have to cast your eye to American sports to see that more events isn’t always better: baseball, nascar, etc.

      So many events that it dilutes the value rather than enhance it.

      A Grand Prix is something special. It should stay that way.

      1. That kind of nuance Kyle just isn’t there is it? The dumbing down of culture continues apace.

        1. Nuance?

          You know things are bad when liberty refer to the sport (with all the history and heritage that entails) as a ‘product’

          1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
            13th March 2021, 14:47

            The US approach to anything is profit, just ask the Iraqis who were “freed” of Saddam.

          2. You know things are bad when liberty refer to the sport (with all the history and heritage that entails) as a ‘product’

            It’s bit like calling your family (with all the history and heritage that entails) the ‘firm’. :P

            1. Ahhhh, Coldfly, the Royal Punter.

          3. The moment liberty started calling f1 a show and having sky sports and especially “crofty” banging on about “the show” and how we can spice up “the show” I knew we were in trouble.

            To know that I won’t get to see the British &, Italian gp qualifying live but will get a pointless boring procession instead is just depressing. After all it isn’t like qualifying is the only time you get to see the cars go flat out. Now I will get to watch a pointless race with drivers driving slow enough to save fuel, save the engine and look after the tyres. If Mercedes are miles ahead again this season it will be so bad.

            1. It’s been ‘the show’ well before Liberty got anywhere near it. In a little more news – all human activity is pointless, as is the cosmos.

    3. Hey, my suggestion :o)
      Simple and to the point without any tacky ‘super’ superlatives.
      Not sure about the two-second DRS rule :o(

    4. Let’s enhance our new gimmick by increasing the effectiveness of our old gimmick

    5. Anything that makes the Dumb Racing System more effective/powerful is nothing but a negative.

      Quantity over quality is the wrong direction, Always has been & always will be! And the fact that seems to be the default way they go tells you that those running the sport (Liberty, The FIA & even teams) don’t understand that.

      50 utterly devoid of any skill, interest or excitement DRS highway passes will never be as exciting as a race featuring fewer proper gimmick free overtakes. Hence why many of the DRS-fest’s are quickly forgotten while races like Imola 05/06 stay in the memories for years afterwards. It’s proper racing fans want to see & not gimmick filled highway pass fests that offer no quality racing.

      1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        13th March 2021, 14:41

        I agree with you 100% but unfortunately for fans like you and I, Liberty seem to be going after the type of fan that was born with an iPad in their hands with the attention span of a squirrel and don’t have the patience of watching a GP on Sunday brewing for a cracking last 10 laps. The new generation needs action for the whole race or else it’s too boring.

        1. While I totally agree and have hated DRS from minute one, I hope this is the last season they have it, and for short sprint races I get it considering these terrible clean air dependent cars, on these terrible gimmicky tires. Let’s recall DRS only exists because the teams/BE agreed to it and couldn’t get off their aero addiction. Well after this season the cars will be completely different, far far less clean air dependent, and it is my fervent hope and expectation that DRS will no longer be ‘needed’ after this season. This is a terrible gimmick from the past regime that Liberty inherited, and everything they have done regarding the new regs for the cars for next year onward indicates to me that they are only retaining DRS as a stopgap measure in case the teams find loopholes and somehow retain too much clean air dependence in spite of the ground effects direction they are going. I am convinced that if for some reason DRS is used next year, it may be in a different less powerful way, and as well the rules will be tweaked for 2023 to make the cars even more clean air independent, and with DRS completely gone.

          1. @robbie DRS is still present in the 2022 regulation package, and there are no plans to remove it – James Key has stated that, given the emphasis on overtaking action that is being emphasised as part of Liberty’s plans for promoting the sport, the information the teams have been given is that DRS is going to stay for at least 2022, if not probably longer.

            Whilst you have repeatedly ranted that “DRS only exists because the teams/BE agreed to it and couldn’t get off their aero addiction”, I would say that both misses the point of DRS’s introduction and also misses why it is very likely to be kept irrespective of how the 2022 rules play out.

            What, ultimately, is the purpose of DRS? The idea of increasing overtaking chances is driven by the commercial logic that viewers want to see more overtaking, and thus the perception that increasing that aspect is needed to sustain viewer figures.

            It is the perception of what the viewer wants to see that is driving the need for DRS, and it is that same logic that is dictating the entire philosophy behind the 2022 rule changes – it’s the idea that the frequency and numbers of overtakes is the key to pleasing the fans.

            When ease and frequency of overtaking is perceived as a key part of promoting the sport, DRS, as a tool to facilitate overtaking, fits into that philosophy. I can’t see DRS being removed quickly for the reason that to do so goes against the way that Liberty Media is shaping to promote the sport and wants the sport to be full of what it perceives to be the right sort of action.

            1. Repeating my previous ‘rant’. DRS should be replaced with a Downforce Recovery System.

              F1 doesn’t need less drag on a straight; just make sure car design creates sufficient wake for a following car.
              In the curvy bits a following car can use a bit of help though to recover the downforce lost due to the dirty air of the car closely in front.
              Anon @robbie @canadianjosh

      2. Ditched Racing System sounds cooler.

    6. I wish they had taken this opportunity to try doing the sprint races without DRS at all to see how it goes.

      1. Indeed Mark, but that would make far too much sense. We also had the opportunity to have a couple of races without DRS last season. Those are the kind of things that need testing, not sprint races or qualifying or whatever it’s going to be called. Bah.

        1. @john-h DRS is in the regulations, so a must in every (standard) race for consistency’s sake. Next year it mightn’t exist anymore.

          1. They could have easily made a change with approval from the teams @jerejj.
            And really, no DRS next season. If anything they are going in the opposite direction despite the aero changes.
            I remember very well when DRS was introduced way back when, and we were all told not to worry, it’s a temporary measure, etc. Of course that wasn’t the case.

      2. Mark it would likely just be a procession, especially for such a short race, imho. That is no way should be construed as me being a fan of DRS whatsoever. But I get it for this concept, for now with these cars.

        @john-h I don’t think they are going in the opposite direction at all. I think terrible DRS is understandable for these short sprints and for these types of cars, and as I say below I look forward to the disappearance of DRS next year. If not next year, then with some tweaking then for 2023. Perhaps see my comment below so I don’t just repeat myself here.

      3. Same here.
        Same fuel load (more than sufficient), same tyres (just hard enough to last the whole not-race), no DRS, and the point should be a Sunday grid position rather than a point.

        It’s only a test. If it doesn’t create an exiting non-race than we can add that to our collective experience database.

    7. Why not award points for the top eight finishers like F1 did from 2003 to 2009? Another suggestion: Top five in the following form:
      1st: 5
      2nd: 4
      3rd: 3
      4th: 2
      5th: 1
      DRS when within two seconds, I don’t care either way, but any rules regarding race starting tyre set or tyre use, in general, should get scrapped. Most definitely the former.

    8. Biggest beneficiary: bottom tier teams.
      The other midifield teams will either save even more PU or many will have performance problems/power failures on Sundays.

    9. Points for 3 cars in a 20 car field makes me wonder what the point of these events will be. Will we see cars stopping with minor issues to protect their engines or other parts?

      1. For some teams, not fully racing on the SQ will make as much sense of not timing a fast lap on Q3.

        1. But risking starting from 20th rather than 10th.
          I would still fight for that.

          1. If Williams are as slow as last year, I don’t think they’d want to put 20 laps on the engine just to start last anyway.

            1. @petebaldwin By that logic, why did Williams even take part in qualifying at all in 2019? Or even the races for that matter?

      2. That is – points for the fastest 3 cars who will also be the fastest 3 cars in the race, and have the advantage of also starting the race from the front.
        Championship over by summer break, here we come.

        1. I wonder if the race points then becomes 22, 16, 14, etc

    10. And my suggestion for this Saturday race would be “Qualifying by the first corner”.
      In the current performance status quo, the result of this “qualifying” will be solved by the first corner, either with a crash or with a procession after it.
      The worst part is that the pole position may get awarded by the perfomance betwen the “lights out” and the first corner.

    11. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      13th March 2021, 14:30

      This is a joke, more points for Mercedes and Max is what this will be and the 2 second DRS rule…….never in my life would I have thought F1 would steer towards NASCAR gimmicks but the day is almost here. The 2 second DRS rule will be the cherry on top of this idea.

      1. @canadianjosh Overtaking from 1.9 seconds back is less likely than from 0.9 seconds back, so most likely no difference to the outcome.

        1. It means that a driver who does a great job in qualifying and finishes above where his car should be has an even smaller chance of defending his position on Saturday.

          1. @petebaldwin Not really. If the car ahead is quicker, he’ll stay ahead. If he’s quicker and gets overtaken, then re-overtaking should be easy.

    12. They managed to come up with something even worse than the original bad idea of sprint races.

      I hope this fails miserably so it’s forgotten like elimination qualy. But they are trying everything to make the races as mixed as possible, so people’s initial reaction is “wow this was awesome, let’s do it at every race”.

      1. @fer-no65 What’s funny is that in trying to mix everything up, all they’ve done is guarantee that the opposite will happen. On the odd occasion that a driver makes a mistake in qualifying and is out of position, they now have even more DRS to easily get back into pace order. Points for the top 3 means dominant teams can pick up more points to win the season earlier than they would have and if their logic is right that they need an incentive to race, surely giving points to only the top 3 means most of the field won’t race each other…

    13. As someone who has been referring to this a sprint qualifying all along, and trying to direct the narrative away from ‘sprint race’ or ‘just another race for the sake of another race,’ I am thrilled that this is what they will call it. This is exactly what I had hoped for. I was not an advocate for points, but had also said that if they all agree points are necessary, then so be it, they will have all agreed. I know this will now invite people, especially if a Championship comes down to a few points, to harken back to a specific Sprint Qualifying and ‘blame’ their guy losing the WDC by a few points on said session, potentially, but that happens already anyway. People easily harken back to one incident as being the decider, when the reality is that it is everything that happens in every session that they are on the track, including practice, that makes up for the sum total of the points and the standings at the end of the final race.

      The DRS thing? I have hated it from day one, but I actually get it for this type of short race with these types of cars. Yes the passes are meaningless and forgettable the minute they happen, and so is the terrible way these aero dependent cars are so processional without it. If I could have wound back the clock I would have had them actually do something about the dirty air problem back when the addressed it in a very mild way back in 08/09, if not way sooner, and then they wouldn’t have felt the need for such a terrible gimmick. But for this season, and these sprints, I get it, and I just continue to hope to see it completely gone if not next year then the year after if tweaks are necessary to the cars. The cars simply shouldn’t need it next year, and that includes if they continue to have sprint qualifying. That to me will be the final decision to start a much much better product on the track, the disappearance of DRS.

      Great stuff. This is going to be exciting.

    14. Reverse grids looking better every day.

      1. Will only happen once the Bernie generation has moved along.
        Maybe this is a subtle step in that direction.

    15. So they’re trying to encourage new fans and all they do is make things more complicated and harder for new people to understand and it was bad enough already…

      DRS is enabled when 1 second behind the car in front, except on Saturday when it’s 2 seconds…

      The winner gets 25 points, except on Saturday when they get 3…

      Only the top 10 get points, except on Saturday when only the top 3 do…

      Presumably there’ll also be things like: A driver must use two compounds of tyre, except on Saturday where they won’t…

      1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        13th March 2021, 22:38

        It’s absolutely pathetic to change the DNA of F1 but Liberty is an American company after all so nobody should be surprised if I’m being honest.

    16. So they are really going to follow through with it. The last couple seasons were the best in years. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Not sure why it’s needed. It feels like something they should test in simulations rather than use real race weekends a guinea pig to see what works. Adding points to it makes it part of the championship tally. Not sure if that’s right either. That will make it 2 races in one weekend. I thought all this was about shaking up qualifying, not changing the entire complexion of the series. I’m in wait and see mode.

    17. I don’t know about all this. To me it’s as if one (or 20 cars) running in circles hoping something different will happen. To my knowledge that is the definition of stupidity. But then again I ain’t the brightest brain in the world.
      So on Friday they will have a quali to decide who is the fastest so they can start off in that position for Saturday sprint. So the fastest cars will head the field and probably stay that way because they are the fastest. And overtaking even with DRS on alot of circuits is not enough. So therefore Sundays race will be a longer replay of Saturdays short sprint race. With more points for the top three which will stretch out the championship even more.

    18. Forget all this, we’ve just lost Murray :'(

    19. Has anyone addressed the ramifications (pun intented) of crashes and other car wear and tear during the Sprint races? Not to mention the wear and tear on the crews

    20. Heh, points for the top 3 meant to encourage overtaking… Doesn’t really make sense. I imagine pretty much everyone else will get what places they can at the start then go straight to defensive/hold position mode.

      What team strategist is going to suggest risking car damage in an overtake for no extra points and a position that’s just going to be nullified when they head to turn 1 on the grid the next day.

      The only time it will get interesting is when a back marker like Russell has a good start and will defend tooth and nail to hold his new position for the real race.

      1. @skipgamer I think this will work against someone like Russell, if Williams performance is similar to last year. Russell usually qualified 14th to 16th, then fell back in the race as the cars with better race pace made their way past. If he does the same again then not only does he have 20 or so extra laps to have to defend, they now have DRS from up to 2 seconds behind making the task of defending even harder.

      2. But he won’t be in the top 3.
        The top 3 tends to be the least competitive part of the F1 field.

    21. 2 second DRS rule could have the opposite effect to what is intended.

      DRS is most effective when the car in front doesn’t have it, hence we’re likely to see more DRS trains with this change.

      Not sure if it’s been well thought through.

    22. I love f1 qualifying the way it is if this gahead i will not be able to see it be like thousands of other people I work on fridy YOUVE TAKEN AWAY THE BEST PART OF THE WEEKEND

    23. Oh cool! More DRS! Just what everyone has been asking for for years…!

    24. Only 2 races per weekend? Liberty have missed the boat. The ferry to Spectacle Island.

      They still have the chance to spice the show up to 3. Stage a Friday race with 3 second DRS to establish the order for Saturday’s 2 second DRS race to confirm the order for Sunday’s 1 second DRS race.

      Oh… and fan boost and sprinklers!

      1. I’ll get on board with 3 races and sprinklers. I’ll pass on the DRS and fan boost, though

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