Start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Sprint Qualifying format to get green light from F1 Commission today

2021 F1 season

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The long-debated Sprint Qualifying format is expected to be approved by the F1 Commission today, paving the way for its introduction at three rounds later this year.

In order for it to go ahead the plan must receive at least 28 votes out of 30. Each team has one vote, while Formula 1 Management and the FIA have a further 10 apiece.

The scheme, first revealed by RaceFans in February, is likely to gain unanimous backing. Formula 1 believes adding extra races on Saturdays will increase viewership of race weekends, and has been trying to introduce the format in one form or another for years.

But while Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has claimed the plan enjoyed “great feedback from everyone”, several drivers publicly expressed scepticism over it. Sebastian Vettel said it “makes no sense”, Sergio Perez urged F1 to think carefully about “risky” experiments with the race weekend format and Daniel Ricciardo said the extra races must not diminish the value of winning grands prix.

The drivers largely fell into line following a meeting with Domenicali during pre-season testing in Bahrain, where they are believed to have been urged to rein in their criticism having panned a similar proposal last year. Pierre Gasly confirmed the sprint race proposal was discussed but said “I don’t want to go public.

“We did this meeting to see all together whether we can move the sport forward and improve the show for all the people and all the fans, because that’s what we all want,” he added. “The main target is to improve the racing. I think all drivers are united in trying to make the car performance closer to each other, improve the show.”

The Sprint Qualifying races will be held at three rounds this year. The British, Italian and Sao Paulo grands prix are expected to be chosen.

The remuneration package teams will receive in exchange for putting their cars at risk of extra damage has been a sticking point, and could be subject to further last-minute revisions. This is not expected to prevent the format being approved. Final ratification will come from the World Motor Sports Council, which will likely be done via an electronic vote.

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Author information

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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  • 17 comments on “Sprint Qualifying format to get green light from F1 Commission today”

    1. How are they going to circumvent the parc fermé rules?
      After Q1 on friday cars are not allowed to be changed, yet there is a P2..

      They still haven’t explained how this format is going to guarantee better racing, apart from having an extra start and the first lap kerfuffle, they rest of the laps will be the same as a full length sprint race…

      Reply moderated
      1. They have never purported to guarantee better racing. They have put this together to trial whether there is a more exciting way to qualify for the race. This is about a potential better way to qualify for the race other than the flying lap 3Q method. The race itself on Sunday is unchanged, and imho the only way we are going to get better racing on Sunday is with the new ground effects cars that will be able to race closely.

        1. They have, by stating that they want to improve the show and draw in more fans.
          That statement is synonymous to me with improving racing and trying to get more crashes. I say more crashes because every motorsport video on youtube with crashes goes viral in comparison to similar videos without crashes.

          Imho there is no better way than flying lap qualification, which is condoned by the fia, otherwise they would get rid of it during the sprint race weekends. However qualification can be filmed and broadcast better than the current 15 mins you dont see anything or anyone system.

          And yes, ofcourse racing can only improve by either adapting the cars to the tracks they drive on, or by adapting the tracks to the cars. Something the FIA has failed to do for the last 40ish years.

          Reply moderated
        2. Coventry Climax
          27th April 2021, 14:42

          Completely agree with what @SadF1fan says, both initially and as a reply to @Robbie.

          I listen to a type of music that has never made it to the charts, let alone reached nr 1 status. To my opinion, what does reach no 1 ‘status’ reflects the utter musical bad taste of the general public, the people making it can hardly be called musicians as they show no proficiency on any instrument at all (and I consider voice to be an instrument too), and what they create can hardly be called music.
          Ofcourse, the musicians that I do like to listen to, are free to start making stuff that they hope will reach high in the charts. And if it does, that’s good for them, the size of their audience and the amount of money they get from it.
          But I will have moved on to other musicians, long before that.

          @Robbie, to stay in the analogy; do you think you could try another song for a change? Sure, your choice, but I’m close to not playing you anymore.

    2. About time, but what if the Brazilian round can’t go ahead again? Perhaps COTA might replace it.

      1. @jerejj I guess they’ll probably drop that one off before tonight’s meeting and replace it with one that actually has a chance of going ahead.

        My guess is they’ll add it to something like Sochi or Saudi Arabia because nothing short of a nuclear attack would stop F1 from going to those tracks.

        1. Not sure which track – I think Saudi Arabia and Russia are both unlikely to be chosen this year, the first since it is the first event there, unlikely they want to make that more complicated for a first run, the second because of currently Russia isn’t great either for Covid nor does it offer full grandstands – I do agree with both of you @jerejj, @dbradock that it is surely only a matter of time before Brazil gets replaced.

          I would be happy with Texas, but doubt the CotA track will be able to offer extra money for the favour. So probably another track. Who knows, we might get it at Bahrain? Seems to be a favourite to “experiment”. Not sure whether a track like Hungary or Suzuka would be willing to pay extra? Although at Suzuka it would probably do a lot to prove the fallacy of the idea that sprint qualifying races will jumble up the starting grid (apart from with accidents or rain)

          1. @bascb F1 is done with Bahrain for this year. Next March or April.
            I’m not worried about Russia as it wasn’t great for COVID last year either but still went ahead, even with a considerable attendance, so it should be equally okay for this year. As a closed-event at the very least.
            I suggested COTA merely because it’s close to Brazil on the schedule and possibly more likely to go ahead than Mexico.

    3. The drivers largely fell into line following a meeting with Domenicali during pre-season testing in Bahrain, where they are believed to have been urged to rein in their criticism

      So basically much like nascar the drivers are been gagged. Although i think this has been an issue for a while as i recall them been told not to talk about the tires or be critical of new circuits.

      I think they should all be allowed to talk openly about how they feel, They are the one’s who have to drive the cars on some of these circuits, on these tires & will have to run these gimmick races.

      1. @roger-ayles When have the drivers really had their say? And not just in F1. I’m sure if the drivers had more say F1 would already look entirely different by now. They have been complaining about the tires for years, and as well having cars that ‘you can’t pass with.’ Not arguing with you, I do wish they had more say too, but that just isn’t the reality. I think they have input, but it seems to stop there. I like to think the cars and tires they’ll have next year onwards will be much more to their liking.

    4. Will a certain M Mouse be driving the safety car between spirnkler activations and custard pie launches? :-|

    5. I wonder if they vote today who can lead the short debate tomorrow and then vote for the debating order for the final vote.

      This process has certainly taken very long, or at least the reporting on it.

      I will save my vote until after the test.

    6. This not a “test”, this is the most they could get away with this year. If it was a test then Formula 2 would be trialing it, and it wouldn’t have any points attached to it. No matter the outcome they will go ahead with this sham.
      And this is not intended to “improve racing”. It is intendee to expand the F1 advertising platform.

      1. All racing depends on marketing and advertising, so if that is one spill-off then that’s only good for the sustainability of the sport, and otherwise, no it is not about improving the racing, it is about seeing if there is a more exciting way to qualify for the race itself, and if indeed it is more exciting and that draws more attention to the sport, then what sport and what business wouldn’t want more attention drawn to itself? The improvement to the racing is going to come from the cars next year that will be much better at racing together rather than being cars that are so much better when alone in clean air as we have had for decades.

      2. These sprint races have been used in F2 and its precursors for years, and I think it would be difficult to call them anything but a success. While I personally don’t mind the idea in F1, I can 100% understand why other fans would be less accepting of them. I’ll hold my judgement until the trials are actually completed.

    7. At least there is no reverse grid

      1. Reverse grid would have made it way better. Would actually have justified having a sprint race.

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