Start, Silverstone, 2020

Will F1’s new Sprint Qualifying races enhance the championship?

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Formula 1 has finally secured agreement from teams for Sprint Qualifying races to go ahead this year.

The championship intends to use three grand prix weekends this year to determine whether the format is successful, and could roll it out to more races in future, though not all.

The proposal is a major departure for the sport, and goes beyond changing how qualifying works on a Saturday. The three Sprint Qualifying weekends will now have significantly different structures.

At Sprint Qualifying weekends, teams will go into a regular qualifying session on Friday, following just one hour of practice. The qualifying session itself will be slightly different, as teams will only be allowed to use soft tyres, and no more than five sets of them.

A further hour of practice will take place on Saturday ahead of the Sprint Qualifying race. The new event will run over a distance of 100 kilometres – slightly less than a third of a race distance – and will begin with the drivers in the order decided by Friday’s qualifying session.

The top three finishers in the Sprint Qualifying race will score points: Three for the winner, two for second and one for third. Teams will not be required to make any pit stops in the Saturday race, as in Sunday’s race, the starting order for which will also be decided by Sprint Qualifying.

Formula 1 says the new format will “increase the on-track action and engage fans in new and innovative way”. Do you think it will?

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With up to 23 races on the 2021 F1 calendar, introducing a new format for three of them will bring variety to the schedule. Replacing one non-competitive session with a competitive one – with championship points on offer – has obvious appeal.

The earlier qualifying session on Friday will create greater opportunities for unexpected results. Having an extra start at these race weekends will add to the potential for drama.


Changing the race weekend format only adds artificial variety, not the kind of sporting interest which comes from competing at different tracks which play to different teams and drivers strengths.

Much of the criticism of the quality of F1 races in recent years has centred on how hard it is for drivers to following each other closely. That will be addressed by changes to the cars next year. The Sprint Qualifying races are unlikely to improve this.

I say

It’s clear F1 wants Sprint Qualifying because it believes they will be more lucrative. The sporting justification has been a secondary consideration at best.

That’s why F1’s employees and influencers are earnestly peddling the line: ‘It’s only three races, let’s give it a try’. But the very fact this is only being introduced at a limited number of races is one of its biggest failings.

At a stroke, 20 rounds of the world championship are now worth fewer points than the rest. Aside from F1’s disastrous experiment with double points in 2014 (and a handful of shortened races where half points were awarded), decades of tradition have been disrupted.

That in itself would be no bad thing if the innovation was an obvious improvement. But even its supporters are shying away from making that claim.

The format itself is, at best, inoffensive. Compared to the naff gimmick of using a reverse grid – which was kicked around and (happily) kicked out last year – the latest Sprint Qualifying race plan at least doesn’t set out to punish those who performed well. But that really is damning it with faint praise.

Moreover, while it’s unlikely (though possible) a Sprint Qualifying race could decided the championship, it could certainly cause the title to be decided earlier in the season than it might otherwise have been. Is that really what F1 wants?

It’s not ‘just three races’, it’s an entire championship that’s being spoiled. To do it in a year when we finally have a decent title fight on our hands is unfathomable.

You say

Will Sprint Qualifying races enhance this year’s championship? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments:

Do you agree F1's new Sprint Qualifying races will improve the 2021 championship?

  • No opinion (1%)
  • Strongly disagree (56%)
  • Slightly disagree (17%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (9%)
  • Slightly agree (13%)
  • Strongly agree (5%)

Total Voters: 263

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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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104 comments on “Will F1’s new Sprint Qualifying races enhance the championship?”

  1. The removal of Parc Fermé is a welcome change, though.

    For me the biggest issue of this experiment is the Friday qualifying. Quali could/should happen on Saturday morning. Anyways I don’t mind another competitive session, although it seems a bit pointless. Either qualy or this race, but both are unnecessary.

    Those three additional points mentioned in the article are not that significant. Point for the fastest lap of the race is at least as bad, or even worse. And I understand the point of the article… it doesn’t happen every GP weekend. But they race 33% more. Much, much more deserved 3-2-1 points than the point for the fastest lap.

    1. Without the usual qualy, the grid could be based on the previous race result. Or championship order. And yeah, it could hamper those who retired from the previous GP. So will the Qualifying race non-finishers be hampered.

      One thing I cannot see in normal circumstances (i.e. no accidents or drama on Saturday) is how will it not produce a much more processional Sunday GP.

      1. It will not enhance the championship. It is a sideways movement at best.

        I am ok with the change. But I feel the tyre rules can end up resulting in the top teams being short of tyre preparation before the main race.

        FP1 has 2 sets available, but focus in FP1 will remain on qualifying only. After Friday qualifying, teams now just have 60 mins to prep for a ~30 min sprint race and ~90 min main race. And in that 60 minutes, teams have just one set of tyre available.

        In the Saturday sprint race where no mandatory pitstops are needed and race length is short and points are available, top teams (Mercedes and Red Bull) will end up going for the softest tyre option available for both the drivers.

        But after top 2, the other teams can utilize the races as a tyre evaluation exercise. One driver takes one set, the other takes the other set. Halfway through the sprint race, few teams (mainly at the back) may even choose to make a pistop and try out the other tyre.

        Hence in the Sunday race, I expect Mclaren / Ferrari to have a better understanding of the harder tyres and hence, a higher chance of upsetting the top 2. Additionally, because the Q2 tyre rule is gone (gone, right?), the disadvantage of Mclaren / Ferrari (who qualify for Q3 using soft tyres) to Mercedes / Red Bull (who qualify for Q3 using medium tyres) also disappears.

        Hence, the Sunday race I feel can become more exciting. Fingers crossed!

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        26th April 2021, 19:10

        If you need to have a qualifying race, set the grid based on the fastest lap across FP1 & FP2. There is no need for qualifying as well as the race.

        1. In that case they would elimiinate the second best part of the GP weekend conpletely. Planning qualy on a working day alone is enough fir me to dislike this plan, scrapping it would be a killer.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            27th April 2021, 9:25

            Yeah I agree but will it still be as good when it doesn’t really matter as much? We’ll see a great pole lap that no longer means someone is on pole…

    2. Martin Elliott
      26th April 2021, 19:22

      I read that parc ferme WILL start after Qual to prevent major changes for both races.

      Whilst using Soft Tyres for all Quali (only 5 sets) what tyres could that leave for the races and choice for starting set?

    3. @f1mre the Parc Ferme regulations are not being withdrawn – they are still largely in place, just with a few minor adjustments. Once the sprint race starts, the cars are locked into Parc Ferme rules at that point, and the set up is largely fixed at that point.

      There are a few small adjustments which may be made – the ones we know right now are that small adjustments may be made to the weight distribution and cooling may be adjusted if there is a significant difference (more than 10ºC) between the sprint race and the main race. The indication is that there will be a few more components which may be switched out, but I suspect those might be largely “like for like” – in other words, mostly limited to repairing damaged components, rather than a full set up change.

      1. @anon – aren’t Parc Ferme conditions applying from the end of P1 and in place therefore from the start of the Friday Qualifying?

    4. Coventry Climax
      27th April 2021, 16:08

      @Imre: The Parc Fermé is not removed, it is turned into a Parc Partly Fermé, with all the possible vagueness that the FIA always creates where rules are concerned. “Track Limits Here and There, Sometimes” being another example.

  2. On reflection I think I’m okay with it. Seems the sporting effect will be the potential to see some fun mixed grids on Sunday but achieved in a way that’s sporting and fair.

    1. I hope so. So far it seems like ‘a way to get more revenue’ was the motivation behind it. So let’s see. Hopefully you are right and it delivers some fun.

  3. I’m not going to discuss the philosophy, the relevance and so forth. That would make me write for hours.

    I’m just going to highlight some doubts I think F1 needs to address and clarify:

    – Are the 5 Friday Qualifying soft sets going to be returned to Pirelli? Is 1 of them reserved for Q3?
    – Are the 2 Saturday Sprint Qualifying sets going to be returned to Pirelli?
    – Only 2 sets for Race, what happens if you have a puncture? Are you going to have the Quali-worn sets?

    You may think they are some minor details, but they can create loopholes or make some sessions (FP2 with half-Parc Ferme and only 60 min and 1 set? Ridiculous) completely useless.

    1. @diezcilindros The 2-set limitation only applies to sprint races, not the proper one.
      Having only a single set for the 2nd practice sessions is somewhat weird, though.

      1. Sunday

        Full distance Grand Prix with two remaining sets of tyres

        Copied from the official website (hope I’ve written the code correctly).

        1. @diezcilindros If they are only going to give them 2 sets of tyres for the GP then it’s not only going to take away some of the strategy options but also going to see a lot more tyre management in races with higher degredation.

          Neither of those things are a positive in my view.

    2. Another highlight: what about grid penalties? Are they gonna be imposed for the Saturday grid? That would give drivers the choice to diminish the damage. Or are they transferred to the Sunday grid following the result of the Sprint race?

  4. yes the people on the site will strongly disagree, i strongly disagree too, but maybe we’re just the minority.

    anyway, we strongly disagreed with the previous change to the qualifying format and it was changed back to the traditional one so I hope this will happen here as well

    1. This is the biggest problem I see here. Many complain that something needs to change & that many races have become processions, but many of them are also adverse to any type of change or trial.
      Let’s be honest, this season is weird anyway. It was never planned to be like this. Why not use it to test some other ideas. If it doesn’t work, drop it next season. Sadly, the gate keeping isn’t going to help the sport. F1 has grown a lot in the last few years, partly due to shows like Drive to Survive. That show promises a lot of on track action and drama. New people coming into the sport expect that. If they come into the sport and watch 20 cars drive round in a procession, “because that’s how the sport has always been” they’ll leave again.

      1. i don’t think anybody here wants processions or is generally averse to change. I’m all about making changes to the technical regulations every few years to spice things up. but not every change is good.

        fan boost will also probably make the show better. do you think it’s a good idea to introduce it to Formula 1?
        i’m just saying that change for the sake of change isn’t good.

      2. I agree on trying several formats so i don’t have any problems with sprint races. But i would rather see they also tried in those three trails 3 different formats (like what we had now, reverse grind after the sprintrace and reverse like F2 only reverse of the 1-10 (so nr. 11 is on pole) After that we could see ourself if was a great thing or not.

        And i would love to change the name sprint q into sprint race. So the format as they are trying now i don’t think that is going to stick. The rewards are too little and doesn’t change anything they same 1-3 are the same as the 1-3 on the race.

        Or they are just trying to add it and use reverse order next year as trial….

  5. Job security for the carbon techs.
    Added challenge of keeping the car in one piece for the real race.
    More thrashing for the teams if they don’t, providing more opportunity for something to go wrong in the real race.

    What’s not to like?

    1. Won’t

      1. couldnt

        1. Shouldn’t?

          1. Yep! Also: “Should never, could never, would never, and never does”!

  6. I voted for ‘neither agree nor disagree’ because properly judging is difficult before trying out, so I’ll reserve my judgment.

    1. @jerejj – same here – lets see what the impact actually is :)

  7. I strongly disagree. I just don’t see how this ends up improving anything. I’ve read the various arguments for it that have been posted here & elsewhere over the past months & I just don’t agree with any of them.

    The main thing seems to be ‘We need a more exciting way to qualify’…. But why do we? Qualifying as it is is perfectly fine, I think it’s the most exciting format we have ever had & has over the years provided us with some thrilling fights for pole & some mega qualifying laps. Replacing that with a shorter race to me add’s nothing of value.

    And yes I know normal qualifying will still be around but with it no longer deciding the grid it loses some of it’s value as well as some of that tension over that final run for pole given how that will no longer be the run for pole. It’s like when we used to have 2 qualifying sessions in the past where the Friday session always felt less significant given how that wasn’t what decided the grid. The action was the same as what was seen on Saturday but there was less jeopardy in it.

    I just look at this sprint qualifying format & see tons of negatives & I fail to see any positives no matter how hard I try to look for some.

    1. At the end of the day its all about money, as key stakeholders (TV, promoters) want a competitive element to sell across all 3 days of a Grand Prix weekend.

      1. Total agree.

        For the casuals, who aren’t checking the timetable, current qualifying is reduced to the last 3 minutes of each Q, being Q1 irrelevant for HAM-BOT-VER for the last years.

        The new format brings more excitement. I’m pretty sure we F1 nerds will pay more attention to the cars and their sponsors logos. Even Ferrari’s green smudge.

      2. I disagree. While it sort of looks like Liberty Media have more to sell, for me they don’t. I pay monthly to watch all F1’s broadcasts regardless of whether there is or isn’t racing. So whether I watch all of the sessions, portions of the sessions, just one session, or none makes no difference (at least as far as I know) to F1. My local broadcaster paid them for the right to broadcast what F1 made available to them.
        While I expect I will watch the three important sessions on the weekends where a Sprint Race is held, I can’t be sure I will do that. If I can only watch two then I guess it is Qualifying that I will drop, and if I can only watch 1 then the Race is what I will watch.
        So no, this new format won’t make more money for F1 from me, and I’d expect that to be true for everyone else who pays a subscription to watch F1.

      3. Hold on! Qualifying is not a “competitive element” as it is ? ;)

      4. It’s indeed all about money. Money and greed. That was consistent with all recent events. Like new F1 2021 game 4X average price hike around the world. In some countries up to 8 TIMES. This isn’t just crazy. This amount of greed is totally mental.

    2. @stefmeister I’ll give it a watch this season with an open mind, but this is my gut reaction as well. Friday qualifying seems to have the drama sucked out of it as it doesn’t set the race grid. I’ll probably watch highlights on YouTube after work. Saturday sprint qualifying also seems to have less stakes because it’s really nothing more than stage 1 of the grand prix. It somehow feels less essential to the narrative of the weekend. If it becomes the routine, I can also see myself eventually skipping it and watching highlights on YouTube, as long as I’m caught up for the Sunday restart.

      I do understand those who welcome the prospect of more racing, another standing start on Saturday, and more opportunities for things to go wrong and mix up the field. I suspect for new fans who don’t have the baggage many of us do about what a qualifying session represents (those glorious, nail-biting, blistering laps on the ragged edge) and who perhaps have found the sport through Netflix or social media, there’s no downside to another bite-sized race on Saturday. It’s just more content.

    3. Well said @stefmeister

      Qualifying does not need to be fixed or changed.

      Mini or sprint races is a boondoggle.

    4. This is nothing more than Liberty Media pandering to their American audience that want sports entertainment.
      I cant believe the team agreed to this. The F1 pedigree is being diluted for the sake of ‘entertainment’.
      What next, Marshalls dressed as clowns or cheerleaders on the grid.

  8. Martin Elliott
    26th April 2021, 19:29

    F1 is meant to be a technology as well as drivers & teams championship. That means development parts keep appearing all season. Budget caps are already reducing that as has general testing days and time for testing during Free Practice.

    These 3 event will effectively ban any new parts since testing will only be for one hour of free practice 1!!

    Are we heading towards regulated development restrictions or just SPEC series!!

    1. Amen!

  9. My theory is that it can only backfire. If the sprint races are exciting, it’ll make the feature races appear even more boring and uneventful. And if the sprint races are boring, it’ll make no sense to have them in the first place.

    I don’t see how it can make the whole weekend more exciting. The main event is on sunday, and it still carries the same problems as before: cars not being able to follow each other closely and two teams with realistic chances of winning (which is a massive improvement over last year, tho). The field is competitive now, so this sort of thing should be avoided now that some convergence is being achieved. But money talks…

    I hate the fact that we are used to say “at least it’s not reverse grids” or whatever with each decision F1 takes. Like we have to be happy that they have not made it even worse… instead of looking forward to reasonable, well thought changes.

    1. In the end, in essence, nothing changes. Pole for sunday will be won by the fastest guy out there, just like before. Only now they have 3 more points in the standings, making it even more unbalanced towards the fastests.

      There’s nothing positive other than more action which means more tv time, more revenue and more levearage to impose bigger fees to the tracks that want sprint races.

      1. @fer-no65 There is already the potential for the fastest to get as many as 23 extra points for fastest laps, that lesser teams have very little hope of getting. And more revenue means more sustainability and growth. And if tracks want sprint races then good for them. They must not be that bad. More action, or, as Brawn put it a lifting up of engagement on Fridays and Saturdays isn’t a bad think imho.

  10. Of course it won’t.

    It won’t improve the race weekends they are been used at let alone do anything to make the season as a whole any better.

    They are just taking the gimmicky nascar stage race idea and holding the 1st stage the day before the rest of the race. An utterly pointless gimmick race which add’s nothing while detracting from the proper race and making the real qualifying session less relevant.


  11. So we are basically getting a 400km race with a red flag at 25%. Is there really something wrong with quali on saturday and racing on sunday? Feels like they trying to fix something that doesn’t need fixing.

    1. No there is nothing wrong with the current format. For some reason Liberty seem to think that they’ll magically get everyone buying subscription TV services to watch F1 and retrieve there older viewing figures by throwing gimmicks at the sport. All the while this is happening they’ll continue to ignore the actual problem of declining viewers which is you’ve priced the casuals out of watching the sport and if they’re not watching every race then they’re not going to be long term viewers.

      Unfortunately though there is a minority running the sport and those who follow it who seem to think that fake action is better than watching racing with substance and integrity. All the failure of this format will do is further fuel the irrational calls for random/reverse sprint races to decide the grid order. This trial is just the thin edge of a wedge.

  12. I don’t think the awarding of extra points will do much since it will likely be Lewis or Max collecting the majority of these points. It will cancel the bonus of some of the second runners at Merc or Red Bull pitting late to steal fastest lap bonus point awards. At three tracks that have overtaking big deal, at Monaco … hilarious.

  13. Victor (@victorandrei1999)
    26th April 2021, 20:03

    Let’s say that this new format will be great. What I would like to see in this case is that it will be implemented to all races, without Monaco where is impossible to overtake. This year is an experiment, but if it works and will be kept for the next years, I think it should be applied for most of the races. From my point of view, each event should have the same importance in the standings, otherwise it’s almost the same to what they tried in 2014, with the double points for the finale.

  14. The irony is that Red Bull finally has a car that can win pole every week and the sprint races will remove the advantage that RB worked so hard for. Always be careful what you wish for.

  15. Another silly experiment to “spice up the show” that will be looked back on as another failure in the not so distant future. The weekend format is finally solid, why mess with a good thing? Novelty for its own sake is a turn off. It’s like Liberty thinks they can make money off of F1 fan’s indignance.

    1. Yes, I agree totally. “Soccertainment” in motor-racing form 😞

  16. Does anyone know what points will be awarded?

    1. @napierrailton

      1st = 3 points,
      2nd = 2 points,
      3rd = 1 point.

  17. I don’t like it for qualifying, knock-out quali with three sessions has been a success in my mind.

    Here is what I would propose as an alternative, F1 can steal it and apply it.

    A *Friday* session for Reserve/Development drivers only. My thought is: 100km, no pit stops, positions determined by Friday morning practice times. To keep costs low, only have this at European rounds. I would have all F1 teams return to having a T-car as well in case one of the race cars gets damaged during the Friday sprint race. This would give drivers a chance to showcase their skills and give fans (and promoters) something to watch on Fridays.

    It makes sense, meaning…F1 will never do it. Still, it is a thought worth sharing and considering.

  18. A shorter sprint race with no strategic element, Drivers able to push harder & No points for those outside the top 3 is only going to feature less action rather than more.

    As such I just don’t see it adding anything to the weekend & don’t see it been something we see outside of these 3 trials.

  19. I’m curious now the races are set to happen, but not so much I’d be bothered if they cancelled them again. My guess is that they’ll take the gloss off the main race. And imagine an entire season of them, 46 races in total?! Complete over-saturation. They should be much shorter so that any early lap mayhem to the racing order is preserved for the main race.

  20. RIP f1. you were dying anyway. 70 or so years of wch.

    1. I don’t agree with much you say but I’m with you 100% here!! 👍

  21. There is something I might have missed but is there a limit on how much fuel they can carry in sprint race? I didn’t see any thing written about that.

  22. I voted slightly agree to the specific question of improving the Championship, because I think it is just a potentially more exciting way to qualify for three races, and nothing more. I do not have any sense that now 20 races are worth less, even though technically and mathematically they are. I guess to those teams who have a much lesser chance of getting a point for fastest lap, all races are worth less to them too then? We already have the potential for one driver to get 23 extra points in a season. It is also only one option that the Sprint points could decide the Championship early. If they get spread around over the three qualifiers, over various drivers, those points could be more negligible than the fastest lap points. To me and I think the majority, every race is still highly key to winning the Championships, and there will not be any sense of races now being worth less especially since the vast majority of them will be worth the usual amount.

    If it is only about making F1 more lucrative I’m fine with that. No for me I have no sense that an entire Championship is being spoiled, and it also remains to be seen if Mercedes will or won’t find their way and end up dominating this season again, as much as it doesn’t look like it so far.

    1. I also don’t mind ‘testing’ it this season, @robbie. (see full comment below).
      I’m actually surprised how many negative reactions this idea gets. I honestly wonder why so many are so upset (the reasons given are not very strong IMO). I do find though that a lot of the articles written about this test are written in a way to stir up the crowds and create as many comments as possible (which of course is the business model of many online magazines).

      And for FOM it is only interesting to introduce this in the future if fans (not just readers of this site) embrace it and go to the track more often, and switch on the TV for longer.
      Good on them and good for the fans in general, even though some of the upset fans might decide to switch off if it becomes a success.

      As for disrupting the Championships. You’ve mentioned the potential 23 FLAP points, and there are also ‘weird’ rules (e.g. red flag restart rules) and inconsistent steward decisions which can have a much bigger impact on those Championships.

      1. @coldfly to a lot of fans, Liberty Media has also done a very poor job of explaining why it was necessary to introduce these sprint races either.

        Many feel that a number of the arguments being put forth to justify this decision are fairly weak too – there’s been no explanation for why the current qualifying system was somehow inadequate, whilst the whole “oh, it’s a more exciting qualifying format” is an argument that came quite some time after the original proposal was put forward. There are a number of fans who feel that they’re not being given a good argument for why it could be a more exciting qualifying format – they get the impression that Liberty Media is just telling them to enjoy it.

        From what some of those working within the sport have said on this site, even the teams themselves seemed to be unsure what Liberty Media really wanted to achieve with this proposal, and felt that the whole process was a bit of a confused and rushed change. For a long time, it wasn’t even clear what Liberty Media would consider a successful trial to be either – they hadn’t really been public about that, and it’s only a few weeks ago that we had GT-racer mention what criteria had finally been decided to be the ones that would be used to measure the success of this measure.

        Equally, with the fastest lap point – that was a change that nobody really wanted either, and the attitude of the fan base still seems to largely be that the change was unnecessary and hasn’t really added anything (an attitude that seems similar to what we’re seeing now). It still doesn’t seem to be particularly liked – it’s more a case of being tolerated by those who feel that, even if they did complain, Liberty Media probably isn’t going to listen anyway.

        That change also highlights another aspect, which is that fans are mistrustful of how Liberty Media will frame their reaction – particularly when it comes to their fan surveys.

        We have had complaints that Liberty Media’s fan surveys are often written in a way that seems intended to push participants towards a particular answer that they want to hear – see the complaints that the survey for reverse grids was clearly intent on pushing fans towards saying yes to those races.

        Similarly, there were complaints, when Liberty Media announced they’d done a survey that apparently showed fans were positive about the fastest lap change, that that survey also had leading questions that were aimed at encouraging fans to say they did agree with the proposal, even if the feedback amongst fans seemed to be rather more mixed than Liberty claimed (although it is worth pointing out that Liberty Media’s announcement didn’t actually say what percentage of the fans supported the idea – they just claimed that a majority supported the initiative).

        That survey also saw complaints about Liberty Media hiding bad news too – when the public voting figures started going against the proposal, there was the accusation that Liberty Media then started hiding the figures, before abruptly closing the survey, because of the potential adverse publicity from seeing the proposal being rejected by the fans.

        I think there will already be some fans suspecting that, given their previous form for putting leading questions into their surveys, Liberty Media will be putting out another “fan voice” survey after these races that will aim to direct fans towards giving a positive response to these sprint races.

        There are also complaints that Liberty Media don’t seem to be carrying out longer term follow up surveys to see whether any of their changes are still popular down the line, such as a follow up survey on whether the fastest lap bonus point is still supported by a majority of the fan base.

      2. @coldfly Yeah good comment about the stewarding decisions that can have an impact on the Championship as well. The thing for me, unless I’m missing something, about the, what I consider to be rhetoric about the Sprint Qualifying points deciding the Championship is this…it is all going to depend on if one of the three races that uses this trial format is very near the end of the season. Sure, if the last race of the season has it, and if two drivers are still mathematically in it for the WDC, that’s one scenario where the points could matter. But to me it starts to get really muddy after that.

        Is the argument that if the ultimate winner wins by 3 points, then those three points will have been from winning pole on a trial weekend back at such and such a race, and therefore the blame/credit for the win comes down to that? It’s the equivalent of saying LH only lost in 2016 because of one dnf. It’s just a convenient way of playing woulda coulda shoulda to suit one’s argument for the moment. We all know it takes a season worth of circumstances to culminate in what decides the Champion, and anyone can plug in any number of those circumstances they want into the equation to come up with their personal reason for the result. What about LH’s poor starts that year? What about issues NR had? What about NR obeying a team order to let LH go in Monaco? What about the stellar season NR put together in general? The seven races in a row going back to the last three of 2015?

        Let’s say the last trial race is 4 races from the end of the season. Can the points from that trial really decide the Championship? There’d still be tons of points to play for including 4 from fastest laps. Is the implication that the winner was pushed over the edge to win the title with 3 more races to go, because of the extra 3 points on Saturday? To me if that bloke had such an advantage, ala LH in some seasons, that he wins it with 3 races to go, then that can hardly be blamed on the Sprint Qualifying, as he was out of reach anyway.

        And if all races have the Sprint Qualifying format then it’s fair for all, all season, and the extra points are there for the taking and just make up part of the story and the circumstances that determined an ultimate winner.

        I know there are scenarios that can me manipulated, as I have done, to show how Sprint Qualifying could decide the Championship, but to me that’s just part of the show, and those points are there for the taking fair and square, just as is fastest lap (except for the lesser teams generally), and except for the randomness that sometimes comes from stewarding as you point out.

  23. It’ll “enhance” it for the worse. I’m nearly at the point of wishing that it will indeed spoil the championship and the Grand Prix weekends in such a way that it will turn off millions of viewers, just so the people behind this disaster of an idea will get punished financially for it.

  24. So if more of these races are added, I guess we’ll have a bunch of Schumacher 2012 Monaco asterisks. Fastest in qualifying but not on pole… I can’t really see these mini races achieving much. There will almost definitely be no variation in strategy as no one will want to pit. There’s no way to recover the time lost. I guess I’ll reserve judgement until we’ve seen these 3 but I just can’t see that it’s necessary at all.

  25. So we get a short ‘follow the leader’ race before we get a long ‘follow the leader’ race.
    The problem with F1 is the inability to overtake because cars cannot follow closely. Fix the aero and everything else fixes itself.

    And how are the low budget teams going to handle the maintenance and repair costs associated with having to run 3 more races – and how will the 3 power units manage to survive the season.

    It is a another gimmick that fails to address the fundamental problem.

  26. I’d be willing to consider this if championship points weren’t on the table. Part of the argument of adding a point for fastest lap was that, unlike points for pole, meant that it remained impossible for the championship to be decided on a Saturday. That is now a possibility (unlikely thanks to the “trial” status but still possible).

    The limited rollout doesn’t help either, as it’s a classic case of F1 attempting to do something that will make them more money while using misleading fan opinion to justify their attempts.

    Also, this is clearly a sprint race that works in a similar way to F2 sprint races (without the reverse grids and with far fewer points on offer) but still directly affects the race (or feature race in F2). But branding it as “Sprint Qualifying” and then offering points for it – can’t say I’m happy with it.

  27. The 2021 championship will not be improved by this. But as in case some new planned tracks, if they do not fit the current cars, they can fit later, and this is the last year of this formula without a major change. History repeats itself, as many other phenomenons in the world or in the universe (to me seemingly almost all) are periodical (and can be described, and very well approximated with some kind of composition of periodical functions).
    These sprint races are too long, to stir up the order, and reward too few to be appealing for the competitors.
    It can be a title decider, as most of these 1-2-3 points will be taken by the top2 or top3 teams’ drivers, which can make around 5 points difference between the champion and the runner up.

    Apart from these downsides, and the fact that it messes with tradition, it could be somewhat worthy to watch and more spectacular in a season where the cars will be more nimble and struggle less in close combat due to less aero dependency, which means more consistent aero performance, even if it comes at the cost of lower downforce under usual circumstances (which I don’t mind at all, because that results in more challenge, and more spectacle).
    F1 should contrive the way, how to have distinct but simpler aero desings to achieve this.

    Interestingly Danny Ricciardo spoke against the sprint races now, but as IIRC the told in one of the last few seasons, that he is quite bored with free practices, he would llike to jump in the car and race more often instead. But now he has less FPs, and a questionable spring-race-qualifying format in sight.

    To extend the whatifery, what if they would try the following: let’s allow the entrants to do the sprint race without a pit stop, on a set of hards, meanwhile let’s provide two set of softs if someone wants to have a different strategy with one stop. The balancing should be calculated to achieve the that two approaches are as equally viable as possible, so provide for example C1 and C4, (or C1 and C3, so definitely not 2 neighbouring compounds, varying and recalculated by venue) as a tyre allocation for a particular sprint race to have sufficiently distinct durability and pace characteristics. Interestingly the C5 must be so vulnerable, that I barely remember those being fitted at races. Tyre management is very much part of racing, not a gimmick at all, but the narrow operational window is another thing, that is much worse.

  28. Besides giving FOM more air time to sell what benefit does this provide F1. Answer, none.

    I do predict unintended consequences, perhaps quite major ones.

  29. I fully agree with Keith’s sentiment in his opinion piece and I have just one question. Can’t we, the fans, really have a voice that would express how excruciatingly debilitating we find the corporate talk sugarcoating monetary interests? “Engaging fans in new, innovative ways.” Don’t these clowns know that the fans see through this, or are they just so unbelievably careless that they don’t even care to pretend while presenting the new product to the sponsors?

  30. Unfortunately the fact is that Liberty/F1 has to plan for its future given the exorbitant price it paid for F1 in the first place.

    The only way that they’re going to be able to do that is to generate interest in it for a whole new generation or generations of “viewers” (read that as people who see the sponsors messages) and the obvious thing to do is follow the lead of pretty much every other sport.

    Sport now is competing against all other forms of entertainment including gaming, reality shows and all the offerings of all the major streamers who sell their products at a much lower cost that the current sports providers.

    Their answer, I’m afraid is to:-
    1) Saturate the market with as many “short events” as possible in the hope that fans watch “some” of them, or some part of them. Anyone that believes that this is not the thin edge of the wedge is dreaming.
    2) Dumb everything down as far as possible so the precious snowflakes don’t have to think or understand anything.
    3) Artificially introduce mechanisms to spice things up – even if it causes more crashes which are considered “eyeball catchers”

    With 23 races + 3 qualifying races this year, I’ll be cherry picking what I watch, something I never thought I’d say about my beloved F1 but I just can’t afford to spend that much time watching the sport I’ve loved, warts and all, for the past 47 years.

    In fact, for the first time, I’m actually considering dropping my subscription to watch F1 completely, but F1/Liberty doesn’t care about that because they expect to lose us “old blokes with rusted on opinions” and need to get new fans.

    It’s sad, but at the end of the day I and those like me are no longer important to F1 so if I become a casualty they won’t worry one bit.

    1. @dbradock – I watch quali but skip all the talking. Then I watch the races. Even at length that’s 3 hours per weekend and 23 weekends? Almost 70 hours a year.

      Really not a lot of time.

    2. Well said. I used to watch every race and qualifying session, including podiums, post-race, pre-race… With this many races in the calendar, it’s already much harder to get excited about a race weekend. Races just don’t seem as special. As “grand”. I watch qualifying, and the race, but nothing in between. As soon as the checkered flag comes out, I switch off . So now they will start having quali on a Friday, making it much harder for most people to watch, and have another race, albeit a less grand one, on the Saturday. I would say that “they just don’t get it”, but then I remember that they’re not really interested in what the fans want, just how much more money they can bleed from the calendar each year. I have seriously considered quitting watching F1 each year for the past few years, but I keep hoping things will get better. Not gonna happen, is it? But hey, we’re old, what do we know?

  31. If there are only points for the podium, why should those in the midfield do anything but hold position and not risk furious over night repairs? And for the front can you really imagine that bottas and Perez will have any license to try to pass a team leader given the risk? For the wdc leaders, even if the table is close there are so many more points for Sunday that a lunge on Saturday won’t seem worth it.

    1. This.

      Its seemingly without much incentive for the majority of the field, i.e. we might see a huge risk of processional events. Really curious (and not in a good way) to see whom will stress their material for an extended period of time for +/- 1 grid place..

  32. Just swap the schedule of qualifying with 1rd practice and you’ll get a race with full actions.

  33. I think it would be perfectly acceptable, and maybe even become a very important aspect of a single race each year. Just as the Indy 500 and Daytona 500 each have their own, special quali rules, I think it would benefit Formula 1 to have a massive event race. Once a year. Whether that event race be a certain weekend, with whatever race falling on that weekend, or should it be at a specific track that works well with the format, then ensure that this track always hosts a gp on or near the same weekend, I don’t know.

    Monaco used to be an event race because it was Monaco, and also, sort of by accident (I assume), that it usually coincided with the Indy race. Monaco, however, hasn’t been anything special in well over a decade.

    1. yes but why should Monza & Silverstone be more valuable in terms of points than any other race?

      same problem as with Abu Dhabi 2014…

  34. I don’t really like the corporate sugar-coating about this at all, and I’ve always been heavily against this idea and the effect it would have on the actual uniqueness of the Grand Prix event itself and the genuine impact of winning one.

    But ultimately they managed to stave off the artificialness to the point that I don’t feel a GP win would be diluted at all. The extra points awarded will, if anything, reward the dominant teams even more, but balancing this out will be the first meaningful Fridays again since 2005.

    In these rough financial times and ever-changing fan topography around the globe, I’ve kind of detached myself from the purist mentality a bit. I’m not sure why it bothers some so much that only 3 events will get this trial.

    Formula One is always an evolving entity and I can’t help fell that those that unable to fathom that something like this could occur in today’s F1 are being a little naive.

    1. I am not going to get bothered about it too much either, though I mostly just don’t see it adding much at best.

  35. Like DRS, like this Double points, like FLap point, sprint qualy is an artificial gimmick! Giving points for it just takes the proverbial!
    The ONE thing we still had that links to the beginning of F1 is: Time trial qualy and a Grand Prix. Everything else has changed.
    I think I’ve now written off F1 as a sport. It’s a charade! A Hollywood style entertainment BUSINESS.
    This will be a tight season at the top. 9 extra points is BIG!

    1. This will be a tight season at the top. 9 extra points is BIG!

      Not as big though as the red flag restart rule which enables a damaged lapped car positioned 9 to finish comfortably second!

      1. The red flag rule is strange. My feeling is that, like Keith says in another article, nothing would be said about that, Orman other things, if Lewis wasnt the beneficiary or victim.

        1. nothing would be said about that, (amongst) other things, if Lewis wasnt the beneficiary or victim.

          That was a ridiculous statement by @KeithCollantine and proven to be incorrect, @deanr.

          Others and I have oftentimes argued that the red flag restart rule (and even the SC unlapping rule IMO) is unfair. We’ve said that independent of who was benefitted at the time.

          Of course there are the well known Lewis/Max/Vettel/Alonso fans/h8ers who will only argue/complain/shout as it pleases them.
          But we all know who they are ;)

          1. Jolly good. As you were then.

          2. @coldfly So the situation in your eyes is that if you had a car in 7th just lapped by the leader but they were 3 seconds behind the car in 6th about to be lapped they should end up a full lap down and unable to attack 6th for rest of the race due to a arbitrary red flag that is likely nothing to do with them.

            You’re quick to criticise but I’ve not seen your great solution to the problem. Whatever you decide will penalise somebody. The only part of the red flag rule that needs attention is the free tyre swap. You should only be able to change damaged tyres for the same type and no more free pitstops.

          3. I deliberately never proposed a solution, @slowmo. I only wanted to point out the many unfair parts, and this includes eliminating the gaps.
            Your proposal merely opens up another ‘unfair part’ (those who just changed tyres are now behind those who still need them).

            The only fair solution in the case of a serious situation which requires a red flag. Is to pauze the race and restart with the same cars/tyres/gaps after the dangerous situation has been resolved.

            But don’t expect that to happen, F1 and fans want action and a closed up field gives that.

          4. @coldfly how do you unpause the race and add the gaps back in? In practical terms how does that work? When running at VSC speed you see the intervals increase, the gaps only work at full racing speed or having everyone start from a fixed reference point and stagger the start time. I don’t think people have an issue with changing the red flag rules but the alternative must be practical to be executed.

          5. how do you unpause the race and add the gaps back in?

            They start from the pit (no tyres, no repairs) and leave (‘personal’ green light) with the same gaps as when the race was ‘red flagged’.
            Fairly simple.

            PS I’d even allow cars to be repaired/’retyred’ in the pit, but only after they received their personal green light.

  36. Sprint Qualifying () could certainly cause the title to be decided earlier in the season

    When there is a real title fight (like we are expecting this year) it is just as likely that the championship will be decided later! (If the 3 SQ sessions are won by the ’chaser’).

    I dislike awarding points as much as most who strongly oppose this; but the risk of an earlier decision is a typical straw man argument.
    There is a risk though that the points determine the eventual winners. But that can also be said of the red flag restart rule, and undoubtedly many questionable decisions during the remainder of the season.

    I look forward though to see if SQ and the short race format adds something to the season, and am glad they will test it so I can give you my opinion at the end of the season..
    This is probably the right season to test it as technical regulations are pretty stable and we’ll undoubtedly will see many complaints about how much ‘management’ goes into a full GP, the few fights for position, and the resulting boring races.

    Yes, F1 does it to make money. But you ‘make money’ by delivering something the fans like.

    We’ll see!

  37. Absolutely agree with @keithcollantine here. This year looks to have a close battle, not just for race wins but throughout the grid. I don’t see what value this adds, the fastest cars will still be the fastest cars. Next year we have new regs in the hope of making racing even closer.

    I’m not against change at all, but artificial ‘spice’ I’m not a fan of.

  38. What a shame. This will only dilute the product that is F1. It takes away the prestige of the Grand Prix itself. There are already too many races, and this is not the way to go to ‘spice up’ things as there was absolutely nothing wrong with the current qualifying format. The only way to ‘spice’ things up is to have a fairer championship, with much less expensive engine regulations etc, affordable to all teams. This sprint race is just going to push up costs. Its like the whole sport is trying to eat itself so that only 1 team remains. And having a sprint race as a form of qualifying is like having a 50m race at the Olympics the day before the 100m final. All it does is water down the main feature event. The fact that Nascar has gone from 180,000-200,000 sell outs to completely empty stadiums over the last decade should be a warning for F1!! NOT A ROLE MODEL!

    1. @Gubstar perhaps you should be more careful about finding out how other sports work before using them as an example. To qualify for the 100m final at the Olympics you have to not only take part in a qualifying race (semi-final) earlier in the day but to make it to the semi-final you also have to take part in a qualifying race (first round) the previous day. These don’t water down the main event in any way – literally millions of people will tune in for the semi-finals.

    2. And having a sprint race as a form of qualifying is like having a 50m race at the Olympics the day before the 100m final.

      Well @Gubstar, how do you think they determine if you can participate and in which lane to run?
      Or are you proposing to do a full GP to determine the starting order :P

  39. My position on it hasn’t changed, it’s very much like elimination qualifying in being a solution to a problem that didn’t exist in the first place and will likely die the same death.

  40. All of these changes advantage the bigger teams and will make interesting races on Sunday less likely. Only soft tyres in Quali takes away a lot of stretegy, Merc and RB will be ever farther ahead. Then, on Saturday, the only way anyone will take the risk of overtaking in a race that is worth 1/2/3 or (in most cases) 0 points is if they have a much faster car than the person in front of them. Which gives an even more pre-sorted grid in Sunday – and therefore even less overtaking, especially in places like Monza and Silverstone, where there isn’t much overtaking in the races in the first place.

  41. I strongly agree with Keith on these points.

    Especially, since we already have all the information we need about sprint races from F2 and F3.

  42. James Beckett, who organises the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone has a really good idea that should have been considered. The Saturday sprint races go ahead but only for third/reserve drivers. The top three then get to compete in the Sunday race. So the driver who finished first on Saturday gets to start 21st on the Sunday grid etc. That way third drivers get experience and perhaps greater opportunities.

  43. I find all of the negativity around this change really odd. I think all of the arguments against the trial are at least as weak as the arguments for if not more so. I’m really looking to see how it works out – if it doesn’t work well then hopefully that’s that but why not give it a chance. I’m certainly looking forward to watching much more of the weekend on these three weekends than I will for most GP weekends at the moment.

  44. Seems to me that the sprint qualifying is only going to make the main race less exciting.
    Assuming a regular qualifying happens and cars line up in usual performance order then the sprint race will most likely end up in roughly the same order. They then pause the race for 24 hours then line up the same order and off they go again. Probably will finish in the same order again.
    Only variation I can see if someone messes up in qualifying,say lines up in 10th when would usually be on front two rows of the grid. They get a 20 lap sprint race to make amends for their stuff up and make their way back towards the front of the field and probably finish that race where they should have qualified.
    They then start the main race where they should have qualified in the first place and they all start again and we have even more of a precession than if we didn’t have the sprint race .

  45. Nope, I don’t see the point, especially if they qualify close to their performance order, then both races will be less interesting and unpredictable, and if they’re awarding points for only the top 3, then what’s the point of introducing sprint qualy and races if only Red Bull and Mercedes can score points in these kind of races? Not to mention that one of the venues their doing it is Monaco…

  46. TLDR: Maybe, maybe not.

  47. It just seems like a stunt to get more viewers to tune in. I’m surprised the teams agreed to it. Their cars and drivers are at risk just for a stunt.

    To me, the sprints seem another silly way to make up for the aerodynamics that inhibit cars from passing each other, like DRS zones and IndyCar’s push-to-pass times.

  48. No!

    If, say, one of the slower cars idiotically drives into and wrecks one of the championship contenders in the sprint race, the faster driver will not be able to start the actual Grand Prix in the position he earned in qualifying. Such a disconnect between qually and GP kills one of the greatest features of F1.

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